The University of Central Florida filed plans this week for its downtown Orlando campus parking garage at Creative Village, and is nearing a vertical construction start next month on its main academic building.
The four-story, 580-space garage will feature on its ground floor an 8,947-square-foot campus store, conference room space, campus parking operation offices, student service offices and warehousing of campus supplies.
Projected investment in the garage is $13.5 million, with an early work package anticipated to be awarded by May and vertical construction to start by July, UCF's director of Downtown Campus Facilities Allen Bottorff told GrowthSpotter on Thursday.
To be based on the southwest corner of Terry Avenue and what is now Bentley Street, the garage will lie directly southwest of the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons building. Site work, production piles and other foundation work are underway on the academic building, and vertical construction should start in February.
The new parking garage Master Plan filed with the city will be on the mid-February agenda of the Creative Village Development Review Committee.
UCF and its project design team consulted regularly in recent months with master developer Creative Village Development, LLC (CVD), to ensure the garage's design and use of the ground floor was consistent with Creative Village's PD zoning ordinance, and the city's overall vision for a walkable urban district.
A Master Plan filing for the garage has lagged UCF's academic building by about 9.5 months, due in part to those parties working closely on the design, said Craig Ustler, president of Ustler Development, a principal in master developer CVD.
"A standalone parking garage is a challenge from a design standpoint. Most urban design principals in play at Creative Village are that you want parking integrated in the buildings," he told GrowthSpotter. "Most developers are designing urban garages now to screen their (use), or make it blend in. An example is the GEICO garage next to Amway Center, which is standalone, and while not screened had particular attention paid to its architecture."
Ustler said his master development team felt UCF and its designers have done that for the garage, particularly with ensuring the ground floor promotes foot traffic.
"We want a lot of sidewalk activity at Creative Village," Ustler said. "With the campus store taking about 10,000 square feet and the student service offices there, at the pedestrian level it won't feel like a parking garage."
For the building's exterior, UCF opted not to incorporate plant-covered "green screens" or art panels, and instead will make the entire architecture more significant than a normal garage.
"It's a fundamental idea to make the overall architecture of the garage good in the first place," Ustler said. "We think this will set a good standard for Creative Village. One concern was that if you hide your garage too well behind design people won't know where they are. Because of student turnover on campus, we thought it was important for the garage to be obvious."
UCF's Bottorff said the building's design is "a byproduct of our focused intent to develop a campus that purposefully includes our community into the campus, rather than creates a boundary that defines our edge."
Construction of the academic commons building and 15-story student housing tower across the street are underway and on schedule, Ustler said. Both buildings will be completed in mid-2019 in time for the August 2019 start to the school year.
By that time, UCF will also have completed construction of the parking garage, and renovations to the existing Center for Emerging Media and the UCF energy plant in downtown.
Editor's Note: This article was updated Friday morning to correct the number of floors in the garage to four, and that it will not be connected to the UCF academic commons building.