Central Florida Roundup
The curtain rises on the newest additions at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando
Curtain Rises on Arts Center Additions
The Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center has unveiled Steinmetz Hall, an “acoustically perfect” concert hall, and will debut Judson’s, a cabaret-style space, in May. The venues mark the completion of the $613-million, 700,000-sq.-ft. performing arts facility in downtown Orlando.
Steinmetz Hall, the building’s third theater, has a dead-quiet, N1 sound rating — a feat made possible by the structure’s concrete frame and 400 rubber pads placed between the theater and its foundation that absorb and deaden noise from outside. Other features — including cork floors, automated acoustic fabric curtains and mechanized fabric panels inside the ceiling — also help to direct and filter sound. Movable seating, floors and walls allow the space to transform to different configurations to accommodate a variety of performances and events.
Steinmetz Hall is the first major performing arts venue to open in the U.S. since the pandemic began in 2020.
- About 18,000 Orange County homeowners will collectively receive $42 million from the state for citrus trees destroyed on their property in the early 2000s as part of an effort by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to stamp out citrus canker. The homeowners will receive about $700 per healthy tree destroyed.
- Kalera, an Orlando-based company that farms lettuce indoors, will trade on the Nasdaq exchange following a $375-million merger with Agrico Acquisition, a Cayman Islands-based special purpose acquisition company. Kalera is planning to build a farming facility in Orlando and will repurpose its current facility.
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach ranked No. 1 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 list of best online bachelor’s programs, tying the University of Florida for the top spot in the category.
- Amazon is opening its first print-on-demand books facility in the state at its fulfillment center off Boggy Creek Road near Orlando International Airport — an expansion that will create more than 100 jobs.
- The Daytona Beach News- Journal, like most other Gannett newspapers, has discontinued its Saturday print edition but is providing readers with a full digital replica of the paper. Home delivery of a print edition is still available the other six days a week.
- NPR affiliates WMFE and WMFV named Judith Smelser president and general manager. Smelser, who was serving in those roles on an interim basis, had been a reporter and news director with the stations.
- Austin Russell, CEO and founder of Orlando-based Luminar Technologies, donated $70 million to the Central Florida Foundation, the Orlando region’s community foundation. The non-profit is working with Russell to develop a multi-year grant-making strategy aligned with his vision and values.
- The Orlando Economic Partnership’s Leadership Orlando program recently launched the Black Boardroom Leadership Institute — a program aimed at growing the talent pipeline of black leaders and reversing the diversity gap on non-profit boards in the Orlando region. Currently, only 11% of local boards include black members. Funded by an anonymous donor, the program will run through November 2022.
- Daytona Beach-based NASCAR has partnered with Hillwood Development, a Dallas-based developer owned by Ross Perot Jr., to build an industrial park on 200 acres adjacent to Daytona International Speedway at the intersection of I-4 and I-95. The Commerce 500 project will initially create 635,000 square feet of space for an unidentified ecommerce tenant and eventually include 2 million square feet of industrial space.
- A condo project in Daytona Beach Shores has been rebranded as Max Beach Resort. The 12-story, beachfront high-rise built by Toronto-based Bayshore Capital includes 71 suites, with up to three bedrooms, kitchens and private outdoor living spaces. Crescent Hotels & Resorts will operate the property.
- California-based Brookline Investment Group purchased the Beacon Apartments in New Smyrna Beach for $72.5 million, the most expensive apartment sale in Volusia County on record.
- Space Florida is negotiating with an unidentified aerospace company to invest $300 million in a facility at the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport. The deal — dubbed Project Griffin — would bring 2,100 manufacturing jobs to Brevard County if it comes to fruition.
- FiconTEC, a photonics assembly and testing company based in Germany, has opened an applications lab at CREOL, the College of Optics and Photonics at University of Central Florida. The lab, which serves as a research and development manufacturing facility for the company, is also open to students, faculty and industry partners.
- Advanced IT Concepts — a Winter Springs-based firm that provides IT, training, simulation and other services — landed one of five prime contractor awards for a 10-year, Department of Defense contract worth up to $800 million. The contract provides information systems engineering and information technology support services to the Army Information Systems Engineering Command.
- Construction is well underway on the Epic Universe theme park, Universal’s fourth Orlando theme park. It is slated to open in 2025, two years later than originally anticipated because of construction pauses during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be Universal’s largest U.S. park.