New conceptual drawings for the Creative Village Central Park show an urban park that can host large events while also providing plenty of shady areas meant for intimate gatherings.
Ustler Development submitted a design package to City of Orlando in late September seeking feedback on the initial plans for the 2.5-acre park. The plan goes to the city's Creative Village Design Review Committee on Nov. 13.
The park is meant to be the physical center and "heart" of Creative Village. It would be built on Lot 5 of the Master Plan and is flanked by new student housing and market-rate apartments on the east and west. The site is currently being used as a construction staging area for Ustler's UnionWest student housing complex.
Ustler told GrowthSpotter the conceptual plan was based on the Open Space Master Plan he presented to the DRC in July. "Having said that, I obviously had some inspirational places that I thought about and that influenced our design," he said. "Two of my favorite fairly new urban parks are Klyde Warren Park in Dallas and Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte."
The design team also looked at examples of parks adjacent to urban universities, such as Arizona State University in downtown Phoenix and Bailey Park at Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Ustler enlisted VHB for the design work. The centerpiece of the park is a 1-acre great lawn/event space surrounded by walkways, shade structures and highlighted by a striking red art installation reminiscent of Cristo and Jeanne-Claude's "The Gates."
Ustler said all of the art pieces in the conceptual plan are merely placeholders for now. The final selections would be made based on the Public Art section of the master planning documents.
A tree-lined promenade with plenty of shaded cafe tables would be built alongside Terry Avenue on the western boundary of the park, with a pavilion at the midpoint of the block.
The CVDRC approved Ustler's 390-unit market rate apartment building in September. That project, which is being co-developed by The Allen Morris Company, includes 6,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space on Terry Avenue and a 570-space parking garage.
Ustler said the Central Park is intended to function in the daytime and at night, and a lighting plan will be submitted as part of the final design. It's critical to the success of the residential uses surrounding it.
"It creates the sense of place and is a significant amenity to the apartments and student housing," he said. "This park is also important to the Parramore community, and it provides a public space where the neighborhood and the students can interact."
The northern section of the park, which is bordered by Amelia Street, includes a terraced lawn leading visitors to a large round pavilion on a raised deck, with plenty of Adirondack chairs and another art feature.
The plan doesn't show a dedicated dog park or kids' playground. The entire park is meant to be kid-friendly and pet-friendly, Ustler said.
And while there are plenty of cafe tables, it doesn't include a permanent food and beverage component or designated food truck area.
"This is just the conceptual design package," Ustler said. "I can say that the park will be flexible and able to accommodate a lot of different uses but we don't anticipate a big part of our program being permanent F & B vendors because that can work against the ground floor retail/restaurant tenants in the adjacent and nearby buildings."
Also not included in the conceptual plan: public restrooms. Ustler said public restrooms are not required, but the decision on whether to include them would be made with input from the city, which will be the park operator upon its completion.
Ustler and VelocityRED, partners in Creative Village Development (CVD), would be responsible for designing and building the park, which would open in fall 2019 shortly after the completion of UnionWest. At that time, the master developer would dedicate the park to the city.