New DRC unique to Creative Village would oversee 68-acre infill redevelopment

Future development in Downtown Orlando's Creative Village will likely have to pass before a review committee formed specifically for the district starting in 2017, similar to the process established for other large master-planned communities in the city.

A proposed amendment to Orlando's Land Development Code would add the Creative Village Design Review Committee (CVDRC) to serve as the first stage of review for development within the 68-acre urban infill site.


The specialty DRC would be much like the previously formed Southeast Town Design Review Committee, which is the first to review new projects in Lake Nona, and the  Baldwin Park Town Design Review Committee.

The proposal will go before Orlando's Municipal Planning Board on Oct. 18. Those meeting minutes would go to City Council in mid-November, where council members decide on whether to ask staff to draft an ordinance.


Staff could draft that ordinance and have it back to council by mid-December at the earliest, where it would require two readings (into January 2017) before being adopted.

Orlando already has a design review committee covering most of downtown, the Appearance Review Board. But the city envisions Creative Village being large enough and unique enough to warrant its own DRC, said Kyle Shephard, assistant city attorney.

The project's city-appointed master developer, Creative Village Development, LLC, (led by Ustler Development, Baker Barrios and Emerge Real Estate Ventures), approved earlier this year of creating the CVDRC, based on the fact it would have a seat on the committee. Senior staff from planning and public works would also likely hold seats.

"We look at the proposed CVDRC structure as the best way to assure that the collective vision for Creative Village is executed while also making it as 'user friendly' as possible," Craig Ustler, president of Ustler Development, told GrowthSpotter. "I think it will be very valuable to have an entity like this overseeing and coordinating the development, because it focuses on the specifics of the (Creative Village) master plan and various stakeholder objectives. A master development project of this complexity is most well suited for this more specialized and integrated approach."

Development plans for property in Creative Village could still be presented prior to the new DRC adoption. Those plans would go through the existing review process for downtown projects, which includes the ARB (appearance and architecture), MPB (site plans) and City Council.

Creative Village Development (CVD) has control over all the land in Creative Village pursuant to the Master Development Agreement, which includes a purchase option agreement.

CVD will self-develop or co-develop certain parcels, while others will be offered for sale to qualified third-party developers, via a land brokerage process.

"We would not vote on our own projects, but one of the very specific things we talked about with the city that is different about this DRC-type entity as compared to others is that the Master Developer would have a role in it because we are, by definition, the city's partner and Master Developer," Ustler said.


The University of Central Florida announced on Aug. 25 that its Downtown Orlando campus that will anchor Creative Village will have its opening pushed back a year, to August 2019.

UCF and Valencia College will occupy about a quarter of the 68 acres. The rest will be developed by Ustler's CVD team and other developers, with a mix of student apartments, affordable housing for Parramore residents, retail and office space. Full build-out is programmed to occur over 10 to 15 years.

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