It’s officially farewell to the Crossroads.
The shopping complex at Walt Disney World’s front door was vacated late last month. The property will be torn down to become a new interchange for the Interstate 4 Beyond the Ultimate expansion project. The state acquired the Crossroads plaza in a $198 million agreement that’s considered the largest eminent domain settlement in Florida’s history, the lead attorney representing Crossroads’ owner has said.
The Crossroads was built by Disney then changed hands over the years. It was a favorite for some Disney-goers who ate at chain eateries like Red Lobster or Perkins Restaurant, bought groceries at Gooding’s Supermarket, or hit a hole-in-one at a pirate-themed miniature golf course overlooking the interstate near Exit 68.
But the Crossroads’ end has been years in the making in the complicated eminent domain case between the Crossroads’ owner, U.S. Cities Fund, and the state. What made this situation unusual was that the existing businesses were allowed to stay open for several years as the state acquired the complex in early 2019 and the two sides negotiated over the final price. The $198 million price tag included about $39 million for the 25 tenants, according to Orange Circuit court documents.
The eminent domain case also had a twist for Disney World history buffs.
Kent Hipp, the lawyer who led the GrayRobinson team representing Crossroads’ owner, is the grandson of the late General Joe Potter. Potter helped Walt Disney himself turn the Central Florida swamps into the Magic Kingdom. His name is immortalized on one of the ferry boats transporting visitors to the park.
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) spokeswoman Allison Colburn gave a timeline for what happens next. All Crossroads tenants have left the complex as of Aug. 31.
“The Department anticipates demolition of the site to commence in the next two months as preparations are made for the work, including utility disconnects of the entire complex. After preparations are completed, demolition work and site restoration will take approximately six months with most of the work being accomplished by excavators,” Colburn said in a statement.
The new interchange is part of the I-4 Ultimate project, a more than $2 billion construction project stretching 21 miles from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to east of State Road 434 in Seminole County.
“Over the past several years, Central Florida has attracted more residents and visitors, which has led to increased demand on state roadways. In particular, the number of motorists driving within the I-4 corridor continues to grow,” Colburn said. “As Central Florida evolves, the FDOT is investing in roadway and multimodal improvements so the community can continue to enjoy safe and reliable choices in how they travel.”