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The developer of the proposed Vertical Medical City mixed-use tower hopes to break ground in January 2020.
The developer of the proposed Vertical Medical City mixed-use tower hopes to break ground in January 2020. (Jacobs/PRISM Renderings)

Orlando’s Appearance Review Board gave high marks Thursday to the proposed $1.1 billion mixed-use tower that could anchor the city’s downtown North Quarter District.

“I think it’s an awesome building, and I really like the premise and all the things you’re trying to achieve,” ARB Chairman J.P. Weesner said during the board’s courtesy review.

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Vertical Medical City would rise on roughly 2.5 acres at 1000 N. Orange Ave. and at 35-stories, would dramatically change the downtown skyline. The developer, Ponte Health CEO Tabitha Ponte, told GrowthSpotter the firm is negotiating a 100-year land lease for the site bounded by the SunRail tracks and Orange Avenue on the east, Marks Street to the south and Garland Avenue on the north and west.

The 444-foot tower would include a “spectrum of residential assisted living for senior citizens, together with advanced support services, Class A medical office spaces, healthcare research” and urban agriculture. “We are fully intent in creating what will be the healthiest, most sustainable building possible,” Lead architect Dan Kirby said.

The proposed site plan includes a lush courtyard and green roof element. Architect Dan Kirby said he tried to create an inner sanctuary with the garden that would be a place of healing.
The proposed site plan includes a lush courtyard and green roof element. Architect Dan Kirby said he tried to create an inner sanctuary with the garden that would be a place of healing. (Jacobs/PRISM Renderings)

Kirby, principal with Jacobs, presented the project, which is divided into two buildings. The shorter building would house a mix of Class A medical offices, research labs and a rooftop atrium with a working urban farm. The taller building - 35-stories - would have 955 senior living units with a mix of assisted-living, advanced care and memory care services.

“This project is all about what the team has called a continuum of life experience,” Kirby said. “It is intended to be the premier aging-in-place experience in the world, and to be a model for how that happens.”

The plan calls for 350,000 square feet of office uses, plus nearly 10,000 square feet of retail and dining on the ground floor. The parking garage would accommodate 601 vehicles, and Kirby said the plan is to utilize a mechanical, stacked parking system to reduce space requirements.

This is the view looking south, with Interstate 4 on the right and N. Orange Avenue on the left.
This is the view looking south, with Interstate 4 on the right and N. Orange Avenue on the left. (Jacobs/PRISM Renderings)

“The idea there is because it’s senior and assisted living, we might have residents who want their car, but they don’t want it every day -- or even every week,” Kirby said.

ARB Director Doug Metzger said the lot, which has been vacant since 1994 calls for a piece of statement architecture. “This has always been a gateway parcel," he said. "If we want to be a world-class city, we need to have world-class architecture and elements that clearly define our skyline.”

He said he would ask Ponte to provide nighttime renderings during the final review so the board can get a better view of the proposed lighting plan.

The project is scheduled to go to the city’s Municipal Planning Board in June.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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