Theme Park University reader Nick writes in, “Hey, I’ve got a strange question. I was in Epcot the other day and noticed that the old Universe of Energy building was gutted from the front wall and you could see all the way through the back. It’s basically an empty shell at this point. My question: why not just demolish all of it and create a brand new building? If 90% of it is gone, why not just start from scratch?”
Great question and one I’m sure many guests who visit Epcot have been thinking as they watch over the construction progress. For those of you who haven’t seen what the old Universe of Energy building looks like lately, they have completely gutted it and only the original roof and left and right walls remain.
If you’re thinking that the reason they kept the original shape/architecture of the building was for historical purposes, you’re technically right. Epcot has always been known for their pseudo-futuristic architecture that makes the park so iconic. However, there is actually another reason that Disney would want to keep those walls up.
In construction, often times if you’re doing demolition on an existing plot of land with a building or house on it, many contractors will tell you to leave up at least one or two walls. Why? Massive tax savings. Often times, if you leave one or two walls up and the original foundation, the project isn’t considered new construction, it is only considered to be a renovation.
Generally speaking, remodeling versus rebuilding means reduced construction costs and reduced permitting and impact fees. You can also potentially save money on your annual taxes. In some cases, permitting becomes easier because you can be grandfathered into older laws versus newer, more restrictive ones.
Now I fully expect people to read this and think that Disney has unlimited funds and resources and budgets on projects like this are so high that these kinds of permitting fees and tax benefits don’t matter. Believe me, they do and without question, it was taken into account when they were designing the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster.
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