Work to Start on Downtown Orlando’s Creative Village

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Work to Start on Downtown Orlando’s Creative Village

Even with new uncertainties about state funding for a downtown UCF campus, work is set to start as soon as this month on Orlando’s long-envisioned Creative Village project.

Almost a decade after the concept emerged for a mixture of higher-ed classrooms, apartments, shops and offices on more than 60 acres on the western fringe of downtown Orlando, the initial site work is set to begin. It will start with a new road, utilities, and Lynx Lymmo lanes that would connect through the project.

Project developer Craig Ustler said the first signs of life at the project will be laying the groundwork for buildings that could get underway as soon as next year. It may not be as exciting as seeing new buildings emerge, he said, but it is a start.

“It’s a milestone to get started, don’t get me wrong,” Ustler said last week. “All of it, at the end of the day, is horizontal construction. It’s the necessary first step to building something vertical in the future.”

Regardless of state budget constraints that could chill the chances for a downtown higher-ed campus, Creative Village will get underway largely due to a $10 million federal transportation grant, Ustler said. He looked for an official groundbreaking in April and completion of the initial site work in about a year

Last week, Lynx issued the all-important “notice to proceed” for the project. The initial work is expected to begin this month, or possibly in May, according to city officials.

“This is a huge milestone,” said Brooke Bonnett, Economic Development Director for Orlando. “What’s going to be fun coming out of this is that people will be able to visualize where the buildings will be.”

Bonnett said the initial work will break up one “entire superblock” into more realistic development sites. The property had long been the home of the old Amway Arena, which was demolished in 2012 to make way for Creative Village.

The project will begin to take shape with the extension of North Terry Avenue to Amelia Street and the realignment of Livingston Street to straighten out a curve that once wrapped around the arena.

The initial construction work will accommodate an expansion of the existing downtown Lymmo bus service, which is a circulator with free fares. As part of an $11.4 million expansion, the existing line will intersect in Creative Village with a new Lymmo line that will serve the FAMU College of Law and cross under Interstate 4.

What happens next is less certain.

Ustler sketched out a “thoughtfully sequenced” construction rollout. Depending on state funds, the University of Central Florida and Valencia might launch proposed downtown campus buildings as soon as 2016. Plans also call for a private apartment complex and an office building at that time. And Orange County is moving forward with plans to build a $41.3 million, 14-acre campus for a K-8 school slated to open in 2017 next to Creative Village.

 

Source: “Work to start on downtown Orlando’s Creative Village,” Orlando Sentinel