Although the one million-sf addition won’t be topped out until 2003, the Orange County Convention Center already has booked conventions through 2026. A total 164 conventions were signed up because of the projected new space.

A distinctive feature at the center will be a 1,500-foot open-air walkway with moving sidewalks crossing over International Drive in south Orlando. The walkway will connect the existing 1.1 million-sf center with the expanded space.

The ongoing construction of new hotel rooms near the center are expected to escalate in the next three years, bumping up the current 100,000-room number by at least 10%. In turn, the region’s room occupancy level is projected to fall to about 65% in 2003 from 72% in 1999, according to Bill Peeper, president of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Hotels typically break even at a 55% occupancy.

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