The Orlando City Council voted this week to approve the sale of three parcels in Creative Village for a combined $13.77 million, but the master developer will have to make design changes to the new buildings before proceeding with the construction of a luxury apartment tower, office building and Moxey hotel.
Ustler Development and The Allen Morris Company revealed plans for the $250 million expansion of Creative Village in July. The buildings, all designed by Baker Barrios, will rise on lots that are east of the Luminary Green Park and south of the Modera Apartments now in construction by Mill Creek Residential.
The developers have applied for a Specific Parcel Master Plan for the three buildings and are seeking a density bonus to allow for 326 residential units in the apartment tower. The Creative Village Development Review Committee unanimously approved the master plan, and for the first time the staff provided a “courtesy appearance review” to offer feedback on the design. Appearance Review Board Director Richard Forbes praised the building designs, saying they were “superior quality.” He called the 26-story apartment tower elegant, well-proportioned and stylish “from the ground to the sky.”
But he had a major issue with the office tower’s proposed 658-parking garage, which also would serve the adjacent hotel, and with the 328-space garage that would serve the apartment tower. In his staff report, Forbes said both designs fail to meet the standard required for the project to receive the requested density bonus.
The submitted design for the office tower’s six-level garage utilizes a metal mesh screen with interlocking geometric shapes in various shades of gold. A Creative Village monument sign would wrap the screen along the W. Livingston Street frontage, while placeholders would be set on the east and west facades for digital screens.
“Staff strongly feels that the parking garage treatments are inadequate and greatly diminish the quality of the architecture of the buildings they serve,” Forbes wrote. “Significant architectural integration and design enhancements are needed for the street-facing parking garage elevations in Parcels X and Y in order for ARB staff to support approval of the project.”
Forbes said he couldn’t support the design for the apartment tower parking garage because it also fails to comply with the requirements of the Creative Village PD. The proposed treatment does not sufficiently screen the sloped ramps of the parking garage. The treatment looked like a “knock-off” of the EA headquarters parking garage, he wrote.
“Staff is disappointed that the front door, the main entry to Creative Village, is dominated by parking garages,” he wrote. “However, if that is the case, then those garages should have the highest and best articulation, artistic flair and material treatments in the PD, such as the parking garage treatments at Lake Nona.”
Tavistock Development Co. collaborated with sculptor Jefrë to elevate the design of its parking garages in the Lake Nona Town Center.
Craig Ustler told the committee Baker Barrios had met with Chief Planning Officer Doug Metzger and Forbes, and the design team would submit revised renderings that address their concerns about the parking garages before the final appearance review in November.
“We agree with everything that Doug and Richard have worked with us on — and by we, I mean us and our architect. We acknowledge that there’s work to do on the parking garage cladding, both on the office and the apartment, garage,” he said. “We’re committed to doing that. We’ve already been brainstorming with Richard and Doug and internally on how to do that, and we understand the task at hand, so I don’t want the board to think that we aren’t addressing that.”
Ustler said he’s also committed to curating the ground levels of the campus with active users and retail tenants, and with commissioning a substantial piece of public art. The public art component is a requirement for the density bonus, along with higher design standards and screened parking.
“This is exactly the type of development that was contemplated for Creative Village in the first place,” he said. “We should be doing backflips if development is this intense, next to transit and in a walkable environment.”