ORLANDO – On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivered his annual State of Downtown address to hundreds of downtown residents, business owners, professionals, and community members, together with the Downtown Orlando Partnership.
During his speech inside Steimetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Mayor Dyer highlighted the work of “Project DTO” and its transformational impact on Downtown Orlando over the last ten years. He noted that because of the foundation and investments that were made through that strategic vision process, even in this post-pandemic environment, Downtown Orlando is in a strong position, but there is still much work to do and meaningful challenges to overcome.
“COVID altered the landscape for every major downtown on earth, so, as we examine the state of Downtown Orlando, we’re at an inflection point,” said Mayor Dyer. “We find ourselves with both the opportunity and the imperative to be a city that leads.”
Dyer highlighted the city’s efforts to lead this charge and take advantage of this opportunity with DTO 2.0, Orlando’s new playbook to further reimagine downtown, together with the community. The initiative puts Downtown’s evolution into a true neighborhood as the key focus.
“It’s about doing more and being more,” said Mayor Dyer. “It’s about building a downtown that appeals directly to the workers themselves. [We’ll do that] by reimagining Downtown Orlando, not as a singular employment destination, but as an authentic neighborhood, a neighborhood that belongs to everyone in Central Florida.”
Mayor Dyer went on to showcase key areas of the plan that focus on enhancing quality of life, growing amenities, furthering safety and opportunity and addressing community challenges. He noted this would take continued commitment, partnership and being bold and brave to approach what’s next for Downtown.
“The rise of our downtown as a true neighborhood for everyone is here,” said Mayor Dyer. “If we work together, we know that Downtown Orlando is ready to be that neighborhood.”
To help illustrate the speech, as part of the event, Mayor Dyer also showcased the stories of Orlando businesses, residents and city employees who are helping reimagine the future of downtown and transforming it into that “neighborhood for everyone.”
Additional highlights from the speech included:
A DIVERSE & THRIVING ECONOMY
- Reimaging the Bob Carr Theater into an iconic physical town square for Orlando’s digital economy and to foster in-person creativity.
- Working with one of Central Florida’s largest publicly-traded companies, Travel & Leisure, to explore bringing its 900-person headquarters to Downtown.
- Growing the innovation economy at Creative Village with new partnerships like the self-driving SWAN Shuttle in partnership with LYNX and BEEP.
ONLY-IN-DTO EXPERIENCES AND DESTINATIONS
- Bringing Fringe back to downtown, which will soon be joined by SAK Comedy Lab on Church Street.
- Opening two new downtown parks in the last two years including Luminary Green Park and Lake Lorna Doone Park; expanding and modernizing the iconic, signature park at Lake Eola and soon opening Art-squared, which will feature a café and the works of local artists, full performance stage, covered seating and rotating food trucks.
- Working with the Downtown Arts District to transform nine crosswalks into public art and add four more murals from local artists.
- Transforming five more Downtown traffic boxes into pieces of public art.
- Activating alleyways on Church Street and Magnolia Avenue and transforming them into unique gathering spaces.
- Expanding “Downtown for the Holidays” programming and features with new decorative light displays, a larger holiday market and the addition of a Shop & Stroll from Lake Eola to City Hall.
- And, upgrading Amway Center and Camping World Stadium to continue to host and attract more major events that bring major community impact.
A HOME FOR EVERYONE
More than 20,000 people call Downtown home, with more choosing Orlando’s urban environment every day.
- Today, more than 1,300 new residential units are currently in development throughout Downtown, including –
- Society Orlando is set to open this January with 462 new apartments, including studios and lower cost options.
- The Commons will add 400 more apartments at the corner of Rosalind Avenue and Pine Street with retail and office space.
- And, the Edge will usher in a new SunRail station at Church Street along with 234 multifamily units.
- The city continues to remain committed to creating and preserving housing units for all income levels in Downtown, including –
- More than 350 units of affordable housing in Creative Village.
- More than 200 units of affordable housing at Parramore Oaks.
- The preservation of nearly 200 affordable housing units for seniors at the Roberts in the South Eola district.
- The construction of 16 new single-family homes for working families.
- And, the creation of the Parramore Asset Stabilization Fund, a partnership with the Central Florida Foundation, to purchase and renovate more than 80 rental units throughout Parramore.
For those who were not able to attend Mayor Dyer’s State of Downtown Address, encore presentations are available at orlando.gov/stateofdowntown.