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ORLANDO-After five years of bickering among local governments and private business, the most ambitious public building challenge in Central Florida history gets under way in 2007.

Local leaders have agreed on a $1.04-billion aggregate development plan that will give the Orlando Magic a $480-million, 35,000-seat, 700,000-sf new arena; a $175-million facelift for the 70-year-old Citrus Bowl; and a new $389-million performing arts center. The deal was struck Sept. 29.

“Downtown Orlando is undergoing a renaissance that few cities in the entire country have experienced,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told a crowd awaiting the development announcement at City Hall. Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty said the three projects will make Downtown “a world class urban center.” Magic president Bob Vander Weide said principals at all three projects “have made concessions to get here today.”

Some in the crowd, however, remained skeptical. “I’d like to have seen a larger commitment [from the Magic],” said city commissioner Patty Sheehan. Fellow commissioner Phil Diamond said he would be “looking closely” at the deal. Doug Head, leader of the CountyWatch activist group, said he hoped the Magic would put more money on the table.

Most of the money is coming from public tax dollars. The deal-breaker for the entire three-project development was billionaire Magic owner Richard DeVos’ pledge to contribute a total $104.5 million for the new arena. He also promised to pay any overruns if the arena’s construction cost tops $480 million. The arena, unnamed so far, is expected to open for the Magic’s 2010 National Basketball Association season. The Magic have signed a 25-year, $12-million lease and have agreed to pay the lump sum in advance.

DeVos, a co-founder of Amway products, also pledged $10 million for the arts center. Private donors have pledged funds for the remaining cost of the center. Flanking the arts structure is expected to be about $500 million in private development of new office and retail space, hotels, residential condominiums and restaurants.

The three projects would be linked roughly by a still-developing Downtown corridor. The new arena would be built on six acres at West Church Street and Hughey Avenue, near the new Federal Courts complex. The performing arts center will be developed on nine acres across from the City Hall building. The Citrus Bowl is on Tampa Avenue, west of the new arena site.

The old arena, TD Waterhouse Centre, is expected to be demolished and redeveloped as a mixed-use project, city hall staffers tell GlobeSt.com. The old arena is in the Parramore District, an off-downtown neighborhood under redevelopment for the past seven years. TD Waterhouse Centre, originally called Orlando Arena, opened in 1989 at a development cost of $110 million, more than twice the projected cost of $45 million. The 350,000-sf center seats 17,200.

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