ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV's Racquel Asa has learned that a bit of Las Vegas flair is in the works for the heart of International Drive. I-Drive Live will transform a piece of land that has been vacant since 2007.
Traveling down International Drive it's hard to miss the green fence that lines the road, or the loud construction sounds coming from the other side of that fence.
Developer Chuck Whittall, of Unicorp National Development is responsible for the 20-acre project.
There's 20 acres of vacant property where the old Mercado used to sit.
Whittall said beginning in February the construction will go vertical, which means those driving through the popular tourist area will start to see buildings going up.
Along with a 425-foot observation wheel, an aquarium and restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot Las Vegas-style night club with a pool is now part of the plans.
"The economic impact is going to be huge. If we bring in 4 million visitors a year, it's going to be hundreds of millions of dollars worth of economic impact in our area.
Whittall said the project is six months behind schedule. He said they are having a difficult time getting some large murals approved because they violate county code ordinances.
We were asking for a little bit of change that hasn't been done here. But we think this change is what's going to make the project," said Whittall.
Whittall said 50 percent of the I-Drive Live project will be open early next year. The nightclub and observation wheel will be open by the end of 2014.