Downtown’s Creative Village inched closer to reality Monday after Orlando city commissioners approved plans for the first phase of the $1 billion project and gave a nod to a review committee that will streamline the review process.

The mini metropolis will transform the former Amway Arena site into a high-tech, urban infill neighborhood where people will live, work, learn and play.

The 68-acre village will have a mix of affordable and market-rate housing, office space, restaurants and parks. The initial phase includes a 165,000-square-foot building for 7,700 for students from the University of Central Florida and Valencia College. Students who live and learn at the campus will be within walking distance to downtown internships and work opportunities.

A 600-bed, $90 million student housing project along with a 116-unit, $29 million mixed-income housing project will round out the first phase. The first part of the project to be developed sits on nearly 20 acres north of West Livingston Street and east of Parramore Avenue.

UCF and its partners have committed $74 million to the downtown campus. The university is seeking approval from the Florida Board of Governors and has asked for $20 million in funding from the state Legislature.

UCF Downtown is scheduled to open in the fall 2019. UCF will offer programs such as communication, digital media, public service and health-related technology. Valencia College will offer classes in digital media, health information technology and culinary and hospitality, including workforce training and other certificates to increase access to education in the underserved Parramore community.

Also Monday, the city approved the creation of a Creative Village Development Review Committee, where city employees will approve planning review requests normally reviewed by volunteers who sit on city boards. The committee includes city employees from the planning, public works and transportation departments.

The committee will streamline the review process. The city followed a similar approach when developing Baldwin Park and the Lake Nona area. By approving a development plan for each community as a whole, city employees who are familiar with the project can fast-track approval for individual elements.

The downside is there is less citizen input at each phase but the committee meetings will be open to the public.

The Creative Village is a public-private partnership between the City of Orlando and the developer, Creative Village Development, LLC.


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