We are keeping track of what I am calling Amway Center Phase 2, a $100 million entertainment complex that is planned to be built in the land surrounding Amway Center. The plan includes purchasing the parking lot immediately across the street from Amway Center and the Orlando Police Headquarters.
As was suspected at the beginning of the whole process of building Amway Center, the Magic are exploring several options to complete this plan -- including the landmark Orlando Union Rescue Mission (the building with the red neon cross that can be seen on I-4).
Mark Schlueb of the Orlando Sentinel reports the Magic are expected to meet with representatives from the Orlando Union Rescue Mission to discuss the possibility of purchasing the property. Mission CEO Allen Harden told Schlueb that the Magic would definitely like to have the property since it is on the same block as the proposed entertainment complex.
These negotiations, if successful, will not end the mission, which has been located in Downtown Orlando since the 1960s. The charity, which acts as a homeless shelter with a religious bent, provides immediate needs to homeless in Downtown Orlando. Their main shelter is located a few blocks away on Washington Street (the famed neon cross is located on Central Street near the Amway Center and serves as a men's shelter).
That is to say, if the Magic do end up purchasing this location, the charity will not be shutting its doors or ceasing its services.
It does raise another issue that many opponents of the Amway Center feared and that Orlando Magic officials tried to alleviate at the time the building was proposed. That, of course, is the issue of gentrification and the pushing out of services and homes available to lower income families.
Nobody argues that this is happening. The Parramore area on the north side of I-4 is one of the poorest areas in Orlando. Spend a day following Orlando Firehouse No. 2, "The Pride of Parramore," for a day and you might understand some of the issues facing this area.
Amway Center, along with the Orlando Arena once upon a time and other developments, were supposed to benefit this area by bringing buisness to the area, inviting people to spend money in the area and sort of bring the area out of the wilderness of economic fortune. In reality, while some businesses in the area are owned and benefited by the new arena, most people are likely pushed further away from downtown.
That is the unfortunate reality of enlarging downtown options. Those that previously owned the land have to move out and move elsewhere.
The Magic have done a good job trying to reach out to the community and donate their time and money. They are not necessarily "bad guys" in this situation. They donate time to the Coalition for the Homeless in Downtown Orlando every Thanksgiving and they built those basketball courts throughout the entire city as part of the arena deal.
That does not even count the countless hours the Magic as an organization spend throughout the community and the countless hours Magic players spend on their own in community endeavors.
This is simply a reality of trying to provide entertainment options in Downtown Orlando.