On December 1, despite intense lobbying from Universal Orlando, Orange County commissioners unanimously approved the proposed Skyplex Orlando development on International Drive, which features a 501-foot roller coaster.
For months, Universal officials have fought the project, citing concerns about traffic in the area and focusing on the height of the roller coaster. Lobbying efforts included sending thousands of mailers to neighborhoods across Orange County.
Joshua Wallack, developer of Skyplex, said Universal was "too aggressive" in efforts to thwart his project, and his team downplayed fears the tower would emit too much light and would be an eyesore to nearby communities. He hopes the complex will open in 2018.
Commissioners approved the rezoning request for Skyplex after 46 people spoke during the nearly three-hour public meeting. An overwhelming majority, including 41 I-Drive business leaders, residents in neighboring Tangelo Park and others, threw support behind the embattled project.