Central Florida Roundup
Following the business: The largest theme park association moves to Orlando
As the home of five of the world’s top 10 theme parks — and seven of the top 25 — Orlando has long been known as the theme park capital of the world.
Sometime next year, the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions — more commonly known as IAAPA (EYE-ahpa) — will move its headquarters to Orlando after more than three decades in suburban Washington, D.C. The organization, which expects an incentive package from Orange County and the state, says it will bring about 40 jobs to central Florida.
IAAPA, the largest advocacy organization for the $39-billion global attractions industry, is best known for hosting an annual expo that draws more than 20,000 attendees from across the industry and displays the latest innovations in everything from roller coasters to carnival games. It also lobbies on behalf of the industry; for years it has been the leading opponent of congressional legislation to bring ride-safety regulation under the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
As part of the headquarters deal, the organization also announced that it will stage its annual convention in Orlando every year through 2030. IAAPA had previously committed to hosting the show in Orlando through 2020; before that, it had been alternating each year between Orlando and Las Vegas.
IAAPA’s board of directors is led by a pair of Orlando based executives, Chairman John McReynolds, lobbyist at Universal Orlando, and First Vice Chair Greg Hale, chief safety officer for Walt Disney Co.
“Our new headquarters will become a global gathering place where industry leaders will connect to conduct business, learn from each other, address challenges and imagine the attractions that will put smiles on people’s faces for many years to come,” McReynolds says.
» Craig Macnab will retire as CEO and chairman of Orlando-based National Retail Properties effective April 28, 2017. Macnab, who has been National Retail’s CEO since February 2004 and chairman of its board since February 2008, will be succeeded as CEO by Julian E. “Jay” White hurt, who is the company’s president and COO. Robert Legler, the company’s lead independent director, will become chairman
» Sharon Smoley has been named director of state government affairs in Florida for Charter Communications, the Stamford, Conn.-based cable operator that acquired Bright House Networks earlier this year. Smoley had been manager of government relations at Walt Disney World.
APOPKA — Gray Robinson landed a $90,000-a-year lobbying contract from the city.
CENTRAL FLORIDA — Sun- Rail, the region’s commuter train service, began testing Saturday service.
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Disney World will add another 25,000 square feet of convention space to its Yacht & Beach Club Resort, boosting the total meetings area at the hotel to about 100,000 square feet.
ORANGE COUNTY — Timeshare company West gate Resorts plans to invest $61.7 million across its 13 central Florida properties. The company says the spending will create 1,481 construction jobs as well as an unspecified number of permanent jobs. Developer Wood Partners will build a 300-unit apartment complex in the Dr. Phillips area, after commissioners approved the plans despite opposition from surrounding neighbors.
ORLANDO — The local Tourist Development Council approved plans to spend $45 million building the final phase of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center. Construction of the final phase — an acoustical hall that will be used by the region’s ballot, orchestra and opera companies — is expected to begin next year and be complete by 2020. The city council approved a “backyard chickens” ordinance allowing residents to keep up to four egg-laying hens. Michael Wenrich Architects and Abode Property Group are building a six-town home complex called The Olive in the Thornton Park neighborhood with prices beginning at $800,000.
OVIEDO — The city spent more than $5 million to buy the struggling Twin Rivers golf course and prevent it from being developed into a residential development. It will continue as a public course.
WINTER GARDEN — The city, whose historic downtown has blossomed into a popular destination for shoppers, diners and cyclists, opened an $8-million parking garage with more than 500 spaces.
Non-profit medical clinic operator Shepherd’s Hope will build a 10,000-sq.-ft. clinic and administrative office.
A new company has begun installing vending machines around Florida that promise pizza in just two minutes. Pizza Touch developed its vending machines, which bake frozen, nine-inch pizzas for $6 each, in Italy and has expanded in recent years to markets ranging from Australia to Mozambique. The company, a subsidiary of a European conglomerate with North American headquarters in Celebration, has three machines so far in Florida: One at the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, another in an apartment complex near the University of Central Florida and a third at a Mobil gas station in Lakeland. As many as 100 are on the way across Florida, the company says. “We’ve been testing the concept for two years, and now we are ready to go,” says Giselle Sandra, Pizza Touch’s relationship manager.
Golf Legend, Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer, known as “The King,” whose rivalry with Jack Nicklaus drew millions of new fans to golf, left a big impact on central Florida as an entrepreneur and philanthropist who spent his winters in Orlando and helped build the city into a hotbed for golf and a magnet for wealthy athletes, celebrities and retirees. Palmer, who died in September at 87 of heart problems, was the principal owner of the Bay Hill Club and Lodge — site of the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational, one of the most prestigious stops on the PGA Tour and the leading fundraiser for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.