Greatest Year in Downtown Orlando’s History!
On Wednesday, Mayor Buddy Dyer praised the past year as the greatest one in downtown Orlando’s history. The mayor made the pronouncement in his annual “State of the Downtown” speech before a crowd of community and business leaders. Dyer used the speech to trumpet a downtown resurgence, and to signal a roadmap for the future of downtown Orlando’s growth.
“This was the year we stopped trying to be a world-class city with a world-class downtown,” Dyer said. “This was the year Orlando became world-class.”
Here are the highlights:
* Dyer chose the Church Street Exchange building for a reason. Once famous for its 1980s party scene, it has recently been converted into co-working space with at least 10 tech companies. That rebirth symbolizes what’s happened with the rest of downtown over the past decade, Dyer said.
“I’ve talked to young people who 10 years ago might have gone elsewhere, but today are starting their careers in downtown and choosing to live footsteps away from where they work,” he said.
* A lot has happened in the past year: The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the refurbished Citrus Bowl opened; Orlando landed a Major League Soccer franchise and will soon start building its stadium; the University of Central Florida and Valencia College announced plans for a shared downtown campus; SunRail launched; Lymmo expanded and increased its ridership; and Florida Hospital committed $6 million to solving chronic homelessness.
* On Wednesday, Dyer made good on an item mentioned in his speech last year by installing the first “smart” parking meter. By the end of the month, all 1,000 downtown meters will be replaced with ones that allow users to pay with their smartphones and text a warning before time expires.
The Future of Downtown Orlando
* Dyer used a slick video to unveil ideas from Project DTO, a task force that’s been working on a plan for the future of Downtown Orlando. Some have already started, and others are just conceptual. The top ten themes for the future of downtown Orlando are…
1. An awesome outdoor City
2. A highly-connected community
3. The best education in Florida
4. A great place to do business
5. A creator culture
6. An iconic identity
7. Stellar music, arts, sports and entertainment
8. A diverse and open community that takes care of its own
9. A celebration of history, heritage and culture
10. A City built for the future
Sources: “Mayor Buddy Dyer trumpets downtown’s best year ever,” Orlando Sentinel; and “Dyer shares top ten themes for the future of Downtown Orlando,” Bungalower