AuburnJen

Crossroads Plaza just off property facing demolition because of Disney road project

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According to the Orlando Sentinel, this whole area, which is now mostly restaurants, is going to go.  Here is the story.  Article copyrighted by the Orlando Sentinel.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-disney-crossroads-535-20161216-story.html

The Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista, a plaza across the street from Walt Disney World that's a popular destination for tourists, could some day be no more.

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to eventually reconfigure an Interstate 4 interchange at State Road 535 with a design that would require demolition of the shopping center.

Right of way acquisition for the project is scheduled from 2018 to 2022. So far, no construction date is scheduled.

Disney originally developed Crossroads in 1988, selling it in 2005. The 155,000-square-foot plaza's more than 20 tenants include Red Lobster, Pirate's Cove mini-golf and the region's last Gooding's. Tenants say they would have a hard time moving to a location as lucrative as one across from Disney's doorstep.

"It's a great area for me in my business," said Scott Anthony, a Firehouse Subs area manager. "We hope we can work with the Florida Department of Transportation and come up with a viable solution that helps everybody. I think there could be some other options … that would not affect any part of that Crossroads shopping center."

The project's impact on the center was first reported by GrowthSpotter, a division of the Orlando Sentinel Media Group.

Records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel show Disney and Reedy Creek, the taxing district controlled by the company, met several times with FDOT officials to discuss the project and associated I-4 improvements since 2014.

Disney said it did not weigh in on Crossroads, only on effects to its own property.

"We have long supported efforts to improve I-4 for Central Florida residents and visitors, and like other nearby property owners, were asked to provide feedback on the impact FDOT's plans and designs could have specific to our property," Disney spokeswoman Erica Ettori said in an emailed statement.

Between 15 to 20 percent of S.R. 535 traffic heads into the Disney entrance, FDOT said.

The interchange is not part of the I-4 expansion already under way. Instead, it's the next phase of the road's widening that would add express toll lanes.

The project's current design includes a feature that will take some traffic on a loop ramp that connects with Hotel Plaza Boulevard, the road leading into Disney. That ramp, an exit and drainage ponds would go on the Crossroads land.

In January, Tom Biggs of Walt Disney Imagineering met with transportation planners to discuss changes that were made to the intersection of S.R. 535 and Hotel Plaza Boulevard.

"In the end, Tom was encouraged to see the changes made… to the intersection since the last time the design was presented to WDI and planned to present the changes to decision makers," according to the minutes.

FDOT has also met with some Crossroads businesses, and it has held public hearings on the construction work.

Several designs were analyzed, including one that would have spared the property and another that only would have affected some businesses.

But the one FDOT selected handled traffic best, said Frank O'Dea, district transportation development director.

"We did a lot of traffic modeling with each of these options," he said. "The biggest issue for us is the way it handles the traffic. That area right now is kind of notorious for having congestion problems."

Attorneys for Crossroads tenants have argued officials aren't considering enough the plaza's benefit to the region.

The design "looks like a good design for Disney, but it doesn't appear to be taking into account the incredibly high number of loss of jobs" and the loss of tax revenue, said Brendan Lynch, an attorney with the Lowndes law firm representing an Uno Pizzeria & Grill in the plaza.

Also, "it's going to be a very expensive bill for DOT" to acquire Crossroads, said retail consultant David Marks, president of Marketplace Advisors.

Right of way acquisition from State Road to 528 to the Osceola/Polk county line is expected to cost more than $400 million. FDOT did not have a breakdown for right of way costs for the S.R. 535 interchange.

Marks said some restaurants could find other nearby place to relocate, but the plaza's shutdown could also generate more business for Disney Springs, a complex with restaurants, entertainment and shopping, Marks said.

"All that demand's going to have to go somewhere," Marks said.

Michael Tomkiewicz agrees. The GrayRobinson attorney represents Noodles & Company, a chain that opened its first Florida restaurant in Crossroads in 2014.

"If you can wipe out that shopping center, that's great for Disney," Tomkiewicz said. "People are more likely to stay there and eat."

Tomkiewicz said his firm hired an engineering company on behalf of Noodles to prepare an alternative design. That would have saved some of the property, partly by building ponds across S.R. 535 on Disney-owned property.

But FDOT said it wouldn't handle traffic as effectively.

Still, O'Dea said, "if someone has things they think would work better, we're certainly open to looking at them."

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I'm surprised Disney would be at all in favor of that Gooding's being demolished. It's the only store in the region that makes the grocery prices in Disney's trading posts and resort gift shops look reasonable.

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If this is the same shopping center I'm thinking of, and has to be with the Gooding's, I seem to recall it being pretty dated and run down.

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Since they closed jungle Jims, I haven't been there as much.  I've polished off many headhunters in my day.

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If FDOT can do something to make it easier to get in & out of the 535 & I-4 area, that will be good for all the businesses there.  Most of the businesses in that shopping center could relocate further north on 535 and probably get even more business than they have now.

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On 12/18/2016 at 3:20 PM, keith_h said:

If this is the same shopping center I'm thinking of, and has to be with the Gooding's, I seem to recall it being pretty dated and run down.

 

That's it. Right across the street from Hotel Plaza Blvd entrance.  It's very convenient to anyone using that entrance to Disney. When you are sitting in the traffic at those lights you can't help but see and even smell the restaurants right there.  

I can see why Disney would be in favor of building a ramp that would bring traffic directly from I-4 to Disney Springs.  If that happens, it won't matter where the businesses relocate to, most people will take the new ramp and never even touch 535.

And you're right about Goodings, the last time we were in there I was struck by how shabby it was starting to look.  Between that and their high prices, we started going to the Winn-Dixie just up the road instead.   :mellow:

 

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14 minutes ago, Avatab.... Steve said:

 

That's it. Right across the street from Hotel Plaza Blvd entrance.  It's very convenient to anyone using that entrance to Disney. When you are sitting in the traffic at those lights you can't help but see and even smell the restaurants right there.  

I can see why Disney would be in favor of building a ramp that would bring traffic directly from I-4 to Disney Springs.  If that happens, it won't matter where the businesses relocate to, most people will take the new ramp and never even touch 535.

And you're right about Goodings, the last time we were in there I was struck by how shabby it was starting to look.  Between that and their high prices, we started going to the Winn-Dixie just up the road instead.   :mellow:

 

Lots of good cheap places to eat in there, but the traffic trying to get out of the parking lot is ridiculous.  It takes longer to exit than it does to dine.

Only thing Goodings is good for is people from other countries that aren't used to supermarkets.  They are probably thrilled with the selections and their low low prices (compared to where they live).

I made the mistake of going to the one that used to be on International Drive when we were staying at a nearby hotel and the wife and kids wanted ice cream.  Their prices made Mickey Bars look like a bargain.

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Hm... I wonder what this means for Johnnie's???  This is our new favorite place for awesome Happy Hour specials and STONE CRAB.  It's set a ways back, not sure if it's technically still Crossroads Plaza or not but you have to drive through to get back there.

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The Perkins Restaurant is our go to place for breakfast and also for a quick, not expensive dinner.  They make the best pancakes.  Dinners are more homelike food and affordable.

So many people will be out of work, I hope this can be worked out in everyone's best interest.

There is also the Sweet Tomatoes Restaurant that I enjoy.  So many places in there.

 

That Goodings has always been overpriced, even when there was another one a few miles down the road.  The Crossroads one was always higher for the same goods.

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12 hours ago, fladogfan aka Gretchen said:

 

So many people will be out of work, I hope this can be worked out in everyone's best interest.

 

My guess is that Disney is happy that this is happening, and maybe even encouraging it behind the scenes. They have a lot of investment in the new Disney Springs that have to be recouped.

If Crossroads does go away, hopefully many workers will get jobs at DS. Even better would be if another retail complex would arise in that same general area of 535 and 4.

IIRC there is another Commercial park with stores and restaurants that is just south of that interchange, but so much traffic goes the other way into Disney that many never see it.

 

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I'd hate to see all that interstate traffic whizzing down Hotel Blvd.  And we occasionally stop in Crossroads late in the evening for something to take back to the MH.

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