Theme park development can be a complicated business. Though Walt Disney World can basically do what it wants thanks to the Reedy Creek Improvement District arrangement, Disneyland recently lost out on a big hotel and transportation project proposal due to disputes with the City of Anaheim. And now that Universal's Epic Universe has been officially announced, Universal is trying to make as many deals as possible with Orange County Florida to lower their costs and get investments from the local government to help with development and infrastructure related to the new park.
Adjacent to the new theme park complex, Universal is looking to build Universal Creative Headquarters, which will serve as a center for the design, development and construction of all of Universal's theme parks, hotels and resorts around the world, not just in Orlando.
Nicknamed Project Justin, this new global headquarters is slated for completion by the end of 2021, and will cost nearly $350 million to build, which is being funded by state capital investment tax credits.
And though this is already a massive local government investment, another new project was approved just yesterday.
Expanding Kirkman Road
Anyone who has ever driven to Universal Orlando Resort has probably experienced Kirkman Road, which is one of the main arteries into the current resort. And late Tuesday evening the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted on a $305 million dollar Kirkman road expansion project that extends the road nearly two miles and will provide transportation to Universal's Epic Universe's eventual home.
After hours of public debate Universal Orlando Resort was finally granted $125 million in tax money to build the road around 11:00 PM. Many objected to Universal getting even more taxpayer money to support its new project, but Universal promised to pay back the local government through increased tax revenue and of course additional jobs for locals.
Universal will also be paying for much of this construction project, contributing an estimated $180 million dollars for the road. The company also will be responsible if the project ends up going over budget and costing more.
Though it might seem strange to see Universal leaning so hard on the local government for its new projects, this type of arrangement isn't really all that uncommon. However, many are starting to question how much of this revenue Universal really needs, considering multi-Billion dollar parent company Comcast surely has the money to put towards this project, and it will be interesting to see if Universal partners with the local government for any more of the construction costs associated with its continued growth.