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ORLANDO-Plans for the $2.5-billion Universal Boulevard project are taking shape with construction set to begin on several major components of the project in the coming months. Construction will begin in August on the second phase of the Village of Lake Cay, an 80-acre resort residential project by Pulte Homes and Universal City Property Management.

The first phase, which broke ground in spring 2005, consisted of 194 town homes and 480 condominiums. The second phase will consist of 320 condominiums. The third phase, which consists of a 250,000-sf grocery anchored neighborhood retail center, will break ground in November, Marc Watson, vice president of Newman, GA-based Thomas Enterprises Inc. tells GlobeSt.com. “We’ve closed on 500 units in the first phase of the project and 700 units in the second phase. Sales have been strong even in this slow period.”

Developers also plan to break ground on the 18-story Hilton Orlando Convention Center in November. The project includes 1,400 guest rooms, 52 suites, 38 meeting rooms and a 50,000-sf grand ballroom and is expected to be completed in 2009, Watson says.

UCPM, a subsidiary of Thomas Enterprises, purchased more than 2,200 acres for the project in December 1998. The site had been used by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control to develop and test weapons and electronics systems but extensive efforts have been made to remediate the land. UCPM changed ownership from Vivendi Universal to Thomas Enterprises. in 2003.

The first component of Universal Boulevard Orlando was the 230-acre Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. A 1,500-room hotel and an 18-hole golf course at the resort are expected to open in September. In March, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Intrawest Corp. broke ground on the Westin Imagine Orlando Residences, the first phase of the Village of Imagine. Phase I, which will contain 470 Westin branded condominium suites and residences and more than 40 boutique shops and dining outlets, is expected to open January 2008.

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