Master plans for parks & infrastructure to guide Creative Village investors

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Updated master plans for the phasing of infrastructure and green space at Creative Village were presented to city staff on Tuesday, and should give certainty to developers considering long-term investment in the downtown Orlando campus while also supporting property values.  

VHB's Orlando office led the update in recent years to the Parramore Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan, and worked with master developer Creative Village Development, LLC on the new Parks and Open Space Master Plan at Creative Village to ensure the two were integrated. 

The latest versions of it and an Infrastructure Master Plan were shared on Tuesday at the Creative Village Development Review Committee meeting.

VHB and the CVD team analyzed 28 park spaces big and small across downtown Orlando to help arrive at strategy for Creative Village's open space. The city doesn't have a parks master plan for downtown, but was encouraged to do so on Tuesday so all its public spaces could be coordinated in the future. 

Creative Village is forecast to have 10 parks or open spaces through its phased development between now and 2031. Those are led by the main Central Park, a revitalized Lake Dot Park to the north, and "The Quad" outdoor seating area within UCF's Dr. Phillips Academic Commons building.

Each new park design will have to come back before CVDRC for approval. The Parks and Open Space Master Plan sets a framework for when they'll be prioritized, and how each could evolve over time.

A conceptual site plan for Phase 1 of the Central Park will likely come before the CVDRC in the next month or two, and should set the tone for parkspace design on the campus, said Craig Ustler, president of Ustler Development and a lead figure in master developer CVD.

An update on Creative Village's Infrastructure Master Plan (IMP) was also shared, which was prepared by GAI Consultants

Since the downtown campus was formerly home to the 18,000-seat Amway Arena, the property already has a road network, electrical, water, sewer stormwater, gas a telecom infrastructure. 

More than $20 million of infrastructure work and related investments has been put in at Creative Village in recent years, due mainly to a TIGER II grant for expansion of LYNX Bus Rapid Transit service and the reconstruction of W. Livingston Street and Terry Avenue. This work forms the "backbone" of the campus, said Brooke Myers, president of VelocityRED and part of the master development team.

As individual parcels are vertically developed new infrastructure will be necessary, and some of the existing will be relocated or upgraded. But the IMP provides a "big picture" guide to prospective investors for how that will come in phases through build-out of the campus.

The IMP also affirms the responsibility for developing and funding infrastructure by using impact fee credits to offset the cost. If an improvement benefits multiple parcels and the cost is greater than what impact fee credits can cover, that individual parcel developer can work with the city and CVD on a cost-sharing agreement.

Also at the CVDRC meeting, approval recommendations were given for a master plan and major certificate of appearance for the UCF central energy plant, and for the master plan for a 14-story, 390-unit market rate apartment building with ground-floor retail and dining space on Parcel M. 

The apartment building's 6,500-square-foot commercial space on the ground floor was described by Ustler on Tuesday as a "food and social hall," with a beer garden and covered outdoor patio facing the central park. An interior courtyard open to the public would display public art and serve as an access point to the food hall.  

That building's master plan was purposely limited just for a site and foundation permit set, which Ustler's team should submit horizontal construction plans for this week. A Specific Parcel Master Plan, architecture details and elevations will be filed in the coming month and go before CVDRC likely in September. 

Construction on the adjacent 15-story student housing tower has reached nine floors of poured concrete this week, a project manager said, with installation of an integrated parking garage to start next week. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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