A developer has filed suit to stop NBC Universal from building a theme park on 475 acres it owns just south of Universal Studios Orlando.
Georgia developer Stan Thomas, who previously owned the property on Sand Lake Road but lost it to foreclosure during the recession, claims there were restrictions placed on the property prohibiting its use as a theme park.
Ironically, the restrictions were written by Universal in 2000 to prevent competitors from building a theme park near Universal Orlando.
Universal purchased the 475 acres in 1998 from Lockheed Martin, and then sold it in 2003 to Thomas and his company, Universal City Property Management. Universal repurchased the land from California-based Real Estate Investment Trust, Colony Capital, which bought it after the foreclosure.
Universal’s attorney, Peter G. Latham, wrote in a letter attached to the lawsuit that the restrictions were “written for the benefit of Universal Orlando Resort and are not enforceable against SLRC (SLRC Holdings LLC, which is Universal’s land ownership company).”
The lawsuit has stirred rumors about Universal’s plans to expand beyond its borders. Universal purchased Wet ‘n Wild’s 50-plus acres on International Drive in 2013 and is closing the water park at the end of the year. Universal’s new water park, Volcano Bay, is scheduled to open in 2017 but the company has not announced any future plans for the Wet ‘n Wild site. Some bloggers speculate a hotel will be built on the land, which is across Interstate 4, east of the attraction. Universal also has not proposed any plans for the Sand Lake Road site.
Allison E. Turnbull, the attorney representing Thomas, wrote in a letter attached to the suit that Universal must abide by the restrictions passed in 2000, despite the fact that the land has been resold. Thomas still owns several large properties in the area that weren’t part of the foreclosure.
The suit asks a judge to place an injunction on SLRC Holdings LLC, blocking any tourist attraction.