State of Downtown
October 24, 2011
Watch on YouTube
I have one question for everybody. Who loves
A special thanks to everyone who volunteered to be
in our video. You certainly have inspired me. Let’s give them all a round of applause!
I want to begin by saying that amid the fun
associated with State of Downtown… the future of Orlando is serious
business. Jump-starting our economy, creating jobs, and
revitalizing downtown will make a difference in the lives of all Central
this work is serious… doesn’t mean it can’t be done with pride, a
positive attitude and with
There’s an important reason we use the word…
“Love.” When we love something… We Cherish it. We fight for it. We’ll do extraordinary things in the name of love. Yet, most of us think of love only in terms of our
spouse or family. We don’t associate “love” with our relationship to
the place we call home. But, that relationship between people and their
places is actually one of the most powerful forces around.
It can inspire people to work together to solve
problems or help those in need.
It can turn a visitor… into a resident.
It can bolster local businesses.
This idea is the focus of a book Leslie Hielema recommended. The book is called “For the Love of Cities,” and it
ranks Orlando in its top 20 list of “most lovable” cities. After reading it, I was so moved that I got in
touch with the author. I told him that people come up to me all the time
to say they love Orlando. So, what can we do to harness that love… and use it
to make Orlando even better?
Peter Kageyama, the author, is
here today. With Peter’s help we gathered some of Orlando’s
most creative minds and asked if they would help put together a simple,
organic movement to:
- Make people more cognizant of why
they choose to live in Orlando
- Start a public conversation about
ways we can make our city more lovable
The response was overwhelming. What started out with 35 people turned into a
workshop last month with 150 residents. It’s important to note that the City and our
sponsors merely set the stage. It’s our residents who are making this project
A little later this afternoon we are going to
report on the plan those residents created… and officially launch:
“Why I Love Orlando.”
But, before we do that,
we want to first spend some time celebrating the reasons we love
After all, this is the State of Downtown Address!
Downtown Orlando is home to 17,000 residents. Every day, 75-thousand people come to work here. Downtown Orlando is Central Florida’s economic
engine. It’s our region’s gathering place. It’s our hub for arts, entertainment and small
You are here today… because you’ve invested in the
future of our Downtown. More than that, you’re here because of a connection
with Downtown. Maybe you had your first date at Lake Eola Park. Perhaps you have a favorite restaurant
Downtown. Or maybe taking your kids to a parade is an annual
large and small, Downtown is an important part of your life.
In the last nine years, we have worked incredibly
hard to reinvent and revitalize Downtown Orlando. Early on, success seemed to come easily. We saw a building boom that doubled our skyline. We watched 624 new businesses open their doors that
are still operating today. Our Downtown tax base doubled. As we all know, the national recession slowed our
progress. So, we’ve had to work that much harder.
I am proud
to report that despite the effects of this recession, we made important
strides in the past year.
This month, we celebrate the one-year anniversary
of our award-winning Amway Center! Nearly 1.5 million people have attended events in
this building since its opening. The Amway Center has meant thousands of jobs for
our residents and been a catalyst for small businesses. While we’re talking about the home of the Magic… I
want to publicly appeal to the NBA and the Player’s Union to find a way
to compromise so we can salvage the season. I think I
can safely speak for everyone in the room when I say, we want our Magic
Around the corner the Dr. Phillips Center for the
Performing Arts is under construction. This project is also creating jobs and keeping
businesses afloat. The Dr. Phillips Center is the realization of a
dream this community has had for decades of a world class home for arts
and cultural events in downtown Orlando.
We also remain committed to ensuring that the
Citrus Bowl gets the upgrade it deserves so we can
retain our bowl games and
compete for new events that bring fans and dollars into our City. If you’ve spent time at Lake Eola you know our
iconic fountain has been brought back to life! Our beloved fountain is the perfect example of
something unique that inspires love for a city. I can’t tell you how many people have approached me
to say how happy they are that the fountain is fixed.
But, we didn’t just repair our fountain… we brought
it back bigger and better than ever. Tonight, I invite everyone to join me for the first
nightly “fountain show” at 8 pm. The show incorporates music, water and lights into
a performance that will give residents and visitors another reason to
enjoy Orlando’s signature park.
We also love Orlando because of our distinct
Downtown neighborhoods and tree-lined red brick streets. This year, we began installing plaques to recognize
our historic homes that are over 100 years old. As our economy begins to recover, we’re also seeing
positive signs for Downtown Orlando’s economy.
In the past year, 150 new small businesses opened
their doors Downtown. Our retail office market appears to have finally
stabilized, and our office occupancy rates are up slightly. More and more people are choosing to live
Downtown. In fact, our major residential apartment
communities are all over 90 percent full. There is one more important number I need to talk
about today. The number 50.
This is the 50th anniversary of the
Downtown Orlando Partnership (DOP), the organization responsible for putting
this event on every year. For half a century, DOP has helped elected leaders,
residents and businesses craft a shared vision for how our downtown
should grow and prosper. Please join me in recognizing the Downtown Orlando
Partnership and its contribution to Orlando today and over the last 50
Why We Love… The Future of Downtown Orlando
While we are proud of our history, we are equally focused on the next 50
years for Downtown Orlando.
I hope everyone had a chance to see the 3-D model created by students
from the Nap Ford Community School.
It’s their vision of a revitalized Parramore neighborhood and downtown’s
When I look at the project, I’m excited to think that these same
children will likely play a role in bringing this vision to life in the
These kids who are playing video games today… might choose a career
designing them in the future.
The Creative Village is a 30-year project which will transform the site
of the old Amway Arena into a hub for high tech companies and generate
5-thousand permanent jobs.
Demolition of the Amway Arena begins in December. When it comes to the future, no single project will transform our city
and our downtown more than SunRail.
SunRail will give Central Florida’s residents a needed alternative to
their automobiles… and create tens of thousands of jobs.
When our new Governor was evaluating whether or not to let SunRail
proceed, he asked our local businesses to tell him why it was vital to
our economic future.
Dozens of our region’s largest employers stepped up, including those
associated with Downtown Orlando’s four SunRail stops.
Orlando Health said SunRail will allow them to create an additional
8-thousand jobs in the next 15 years.
Florida Hospital described its 810-million dollar plan to re-engineer
their entire campus to connect with the rail line.
The Orlando Magic said they would explore ways to make it easy for fans
to use SunRail to get to games – and proposed a new retail and
entertainment complex just steps away from Church Street Station.
Last month, they added plans to move their corporate headquarters to the
100-million dollar mixed-use complex.
The LYNX Central Station stop will be Central Florida’s transit hub.
Today, RIDA Development is announcing that they are moving ahead with
plans to transform the adjacent property into a 200-million dollar mixed
use development that integrates retail shops, residential units and
green space into a walk-able village connected to a SunRail stop.
The project, called “Central Station,” will be a national model for
sustainable, transit-oriented development.
It will create hundreds of much-needed jobs and encourage new economic
activity along the Orange Avenue corridor.
These projects are examples of the power of public-private partnership.
The private sector is making important investments in our downtown
because of the infrastructure that the public sector is building.
And it’s not just the areas near SunRail stops that will benefit… it’s
our entire Downtown.
Plans are underway to expand LYMMO, our free Downtown circulator.
We are working to bring LYMMO west to Parramore and east to Thornton
Park and north and south to both Florida Hospital and Orlando Health.
This will ensure that our entire Downtown core has easy access to SunRail.
Expanding mass transit has also set the stage for more development and
more job creation including:
The old OUC building’s proposed transformation into a 117 room boutique
The new 300-unit residential complex called Steel House.
And, the 155-room Cambria Suites at Washington and Rosalind.
In all, there are 13 projects in the works that will create nearly a
thousand jobs and bring 3 billion dollars of investment to Downtown
We are also working hard to bring customers into our downtown
Buy Local Orlando, our program to encourage residents to spend money at
Orlando’s locally-owned businesses, is already a success.
Next month, we are rolling out a free Smartphone App that will give
users the ability to see real-time discounts and special offers using
Imagine standing on downtown street corner… and being able to see that
the restaurant across the street has a dinner special or the shop in
front of you is giving 10 percent off.
The Smartphone App is one more tool our community can use to work
together to move our local economy forward.
It’s been said that when something is loved, it flourishes. That goes
for people, pets, plants. Anything. It certainly goes for a city and its
downtown. This is the ideology behind the effort we are calling, “Why I
Love Orlando.” Now, I’d like to call Peter to the stage to talk about
the work our residents have done in support of “Why I Love Orlando.”
Let’s give everyone who participated in the Why I Love Orlando
workshop a round of applause.
To wrap up this afternoon, I want to encourage everyone to get
involved by “liking” the Why I Love Orlando Facebook page. I can’t
wait to see how our residents show their love for Orlando.
One of our first examples is the “Giving Circle” done by Appleton
Creative which is here on display today.
I want to say thank-you to the “Why I Love Orlando” sponsors. I want
to thank the sponsors that made the State of Downtown Address possible.
Your City government exists to help lay the foundation for you to
succeed. I want to thank the members of the Orlando City Council for
their partnership in moving our city forward. Most of all I want to
thank each of you for being here and for your commitment to Downtown
Orlando and our entire City. I know times have been tough. But, I also
know Orlando residents are resilient. Uniting in our love for Orlando,
we can move from recovery into prosperity.
I Hope you remain as excited and optimistic as I am about the future of
our City and the future of Downtown Orlando.
Thank you very much. Have a great day in Downtown Orlando!
Back to top