Legoland Florida Helps Piece Together Area's Real Estate Market

Those colorful, snap-together plastic building pieces we all loved as kids now have a theme park attraction all their own. Legoland Florida is set to open in Fall 2011 in Winter Haven, Fla., at the old Cypress Gardens site. (There is already a Legoland Resort in Carlsbad, Calif., as well as related theme parks in Europe.)

As with all new visitor venues, swirls of economic impact to the area are immediately mentioned, but what about the real estate market in the surrounding area?

Well, it would seem that job creation would automatically affect housing in the area, but when will the impact be evident?
Not right away, according to Mike Plum, managing broker of the Coldwell Banker office. "It's not going to be immediate but it is encouraging that there were nearly 1,000 local folks who attended the Open House to introduce Legoland to the area," he said. "It's obvious the community is behind this 100 percent."

Short sales and foreclosures are still dominating Winter Haven's market; and until those are moved through the system, it will be hard to determine the future of the market. However, Mike says they are in a great position statewide to reap benefits from the recovery and the cycle will change.

"We will be well positioned to benefit when the market does change and improve, and Legoland will certainly be a factor in expediting this," he says.

The park -- with 50 rides, shows and attractions, along with Lego models and other interactive elements -- is expected to create 1,000 jobs, according to P.R. rep Jackie Wallace.

"We are extremely excited about bringing a park like Legoland to the area and expect the job creation to have an economic impact on the area and those jobs could definitely have some impact on the housing market in the area," says Wallace.

Another way is new people moving to the area because of the attraction. Plum says, "In our experience we've noticed that people move closer to attractions to share them with their children and grandchildren, and we hope that will have a positive effect for Legoland."

It's pretty obvious the folks in Winter Haven are excited about the arrival of Legoland. Take a look at the city's Chamber of Commerce website: Right on the home page there are links galore, including one detailing the aforementioned open house as well as a fully dedicated blog.

Seems like all the building blocks are in place and ready to go for a 23-month build-out of the park. Now wouldn't it be perfect if this place was the stepping stone to a housing market boom in an area that sorely could use a boost?

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