In May 2023, Disney announced that a $1 billion project the company planned for the Lake Nona area of Orlando was canceled.
Disney purchased land in the Lake Nona area of Orlando in 2021 to build a campus that would relocate thousands of Disney employees to Central Florida. They later announced that this plan was delayed as of June 2022 and the move was again delayed for over 3 years — before the official announcement was made pulling the plug on the project.
When it was first announced that the Lake Nona project was scrapped, many were quick to speculate about what would happen with the land. Since Disney isn’t moving forward with the relocation, there are 60 acres of land ready to be developed. They could choose to pivot and do something else entirely with the land — but new documents show that may not be likely.
Disney bought the land from Tavistock Development Co. LLC, but it turns out that Tavistock may have some control over the land again now that Disney has backed out of building the new campus.
According to the Orlando Business Journal, not only does Lake Nona’s master developer have a say in what happens to the land, but also the timeframe in which it happens.
Legal documents related to the original sale between Disney and Tavistock reveal when Disney might have to resell part or all of the Lake Nona land back to the developer. Whether the land is developed or sits vacant can have an impact on neighboring property owners, residents, and businesses.
Orange County public records show a memorandum of repurchase option between Tavistock subsidiary Lake Nona Land Co. and Disney’s Dynamic Campus LLC said that Disney needed to reach these construction milestones:
- “Completion of 250,000 square feet of interior construction and a certificate of occupancy issued by seven years from the property sale closing date. That puts it at Sept. 14, 2028.”
- “Completion of a total of 500,000 square feet of the project by 10 years from the closing date, putting it at Sept. 14, 2031.”
The deadlines are “repurchase triggers,” which give the seller the right to buy back any undeveloped parts of the 60 acres of land. Not only that, but they could do so for the original $46.4 million, or a prorated price.
Right now, Disney hasn’t indicated what they plan on doing with the land. A Disney spokesperson said that Disney was “considering next steps for the property.” What those next steps might be though, we’re not entirely sure.
Folks in the Central Florida business community think Disney could eventually change its mind and decide to move forward with the relocation after all, depending on how the battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shakes out.
Orlando land broker Daryl Carter of Maury L. Carter & Associates (who is not related to the project) thinks Disney execs have a few options for what to do next.
“They’re going to evaluate what the property is worth today, what the cost is to carry or hold it — and what it’s going to be worth three or five years from now if they sit on it. The other thing that a big corporation like Disney is going to evaluate is other potential uses of that capital [retained from selling the land] and where else could they put that money to use,” Carter said.
Another document posted to Orange County public records for the sale of the property to Disney in 2021 contains clauses about the right of first offer and right of first refusal.
The right of first offer means “for 99 years from the sale date, Disney will have to provide written notice to Tavistock of its intent to market the property for sale or lease. Tavistock then would have 30 days to decide whether to buy or lease the property before that opportunity is provided to another entity, per this memorandum.”
The right of refusal means that “terms of an unsolicited offer to Disney to buy or lease the property…would have to be presented to Tavistock, which would have 30 days to match it.”
While we’re not sure what will happen next with the Lake Nona land, we’ll be keeping an eye out for the latest updates. For the latest Disney World news and beyond, stay tuned to DFB!
Disney Just Canceled Two Massive Projects. So What’s Next?
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