I wake up every day energized by the
opportunity, not just to serve as the Mayor of Orlando, but to serve
as your Mayor at this time in Orlando’s history.
I truly believe we are headed toward
a future as the next great American City of this new century.
And, downtown is fueling our region’s
Together, we have come so far … so
fast, in our effort to realize our vision of a world-class downtown
for everyone who lives, works, plays, learns and raises a family in
Four years ago, we stood up and
challenged the status quo. We ignored the notion that Orlando could
never compete with the great cities of the world.
We dreamed big, we acted boldly and
today, I’m here to tell you, Orlando is the envy of those cities.
Brick by brick … and block by block
…We laid the foundation for a downtown that defines us and binds us.
But a city, like a home, is not just about bricks and mortar, it’s
about spirit … the spirit of this community.
We diversified our economy and
strengthened our neighborhoods.
We attracted businesses, restaurants
and residents like never before.
We are seeing the results of our hard
- We have transformed our skyline.
- We’ve bolstered our bottom line.
- And soon… we’ll have a commuter
This is the state of our downtown –
surging forward and accomplishing our goals by leaps and bounds.
Now, this is one of my favorite
events every year.
I enjoy it because there’s no talk of
“baby steps.” No … our downtown renaissance is about giant strides.
Our success is the result of the hard
work of so many people.
- My partner and friend, Orange
County Mayor Richard Crotty.
- The president of our hometown
university, Dr. John Hitt
- Our dedicated City Council.
- Our downtown development board
chaired by Jennifer Quigley.
And, my biggest supporter, my wife
Karen … thank you for all you do for our family and for this
The accomplishments of the past year
alone are nothing short of extraordinary.
We saw progress across the board -
from government to residential to commercial and retail. Projects
like: The new federal court house, The Vue, Star Tower, 801 North
Recently, we had the topping off
ceremony for Dynetech Centre. 55 West is only two stories away. And
soon, we will have our first downtown supermarket, Publix at the
But our success is about “smart
growth” and bringing quality jobs to our downtown core … jobs for
the entire region.
We’ve seen a “ripple effect” that’s
expanded what we call downtown. Our vibrant urban core now spans
from Florida Hospital in the North to Orlando Regional in the South.
We are extending these anchors, adding mixed use projects like Mills
Park and SODO.
We are building a downtown for
everyone in Central Florida. Soon, our downtown core will be a
destination for world class sports, arts and entertainment. This
summer, with the help and cooperation of Mayor Crotty, the Orlando
City Council, the Orange County board of commissioners, our venue
partners, the tourism industry our EDC and Chamber of Commerce, and
a host of other community and business leaders we turned the dream
of three community venues into a reality. These venues will serve as
the cultural cornerstone for our region for generations to come.
And remember, these public projects
are more than just buildings, they are catalysts of economic
opportunity for local businesses and workers, providing a
sustainable foundation for local business growth and jobs.
We are also ensuring our downtown
renaissance means opportunity for the next generation … our
children. A little over a year ago we started the Parramore Kidz
zone in downtown’s Parramore neighborhood - where 73 percent of our
children live in poverty. This innovative program connects the
neediest of our youth with services and educational opportunities.
Today, 1-in-4 kids have been helped.
Our downtown renaissance is about
opportunity for everyone.
With an influx of people, we’re
acting now to make sure it’s easy to get around our urban core. A
more walkable, liveable center city is on the horizon. The hallmark
of a downtown is multi-modal transit. We’re on the way to having a
commuter rail system to link our downtown with the rest of central
Florida. And, with our partner Lynx, we’ll see expanded service of
LYMMO, our free downtown circulator.
Though our accomplishments are many,
we will not rest on our laurels. We are headed full steam ahead
toward a future for downtown that remains brimming with promise and
As downtown grows, our unwavering
commitment to keeping people safe remains stronger than ever. Crime
will not be tolerated anywhere in our City and that certainly
includes downtown Orlando. That’s why we’re continuing to strengthen
our safety infrastructure.
Beginning this week, we’re
implementing an aggressive plan to keep our downtown core safe. We
have created a “downtown patrol district” to focus our resources on
the community policing that a vibrant city center must have.
This means more officers during the
day and at night. We’re also re-activating a bike unit exclusively
for the Parramore neighborhood. These are police on the street who
will make a personal connection with those who live, work and visit
Wheels of a different variety are
part of another effort that we’re rolling out this fall, our
downtown ambassadors. Programs like this have been a staple of
resurging downtowns across the country like San Diego, Nashville and
Charlotte. In November, Orlando joins the club.
Our ambassadors will offer
information, directions and assistance. They’ll provide police with
extra sets of eyes and ears atop Segway electric vehicles. We’re
opening a downtown information center on Orange Avenue as part of
this program. It will serve as home base for our mobile ambassadors.
We are also moving forward with plans
to relocate “the big house, fire station 1” into a new, a
state-of-the-art, fire complex that will also house all of our
special operations units.
This weekend, you may notice
paramedics on bikes … OFD will launch its Downtown Bike team to
respond to emergency medical calls in our city core on weekends,
holidays and during special events. This effort will allow for
quicker response time and keep more fire units available to answer
additional 911 calls.
We will not falter in our commitment
to keep people safe.
We also have a duty to protect the
environment and our downtown plays a vital role in this effort to
“go green.” Just a few days ago, we launched “Green Works Orlando,”
our comprehensive plan to make Orlando a more
Our effort begins with the buildings
downtown that are driving our renaissance and growth. Because we
realize buildings impact our environment just as much as cars do,
all new municipal buildings will be “green” like our new fire
Our green program includes more
trees, more green spaces and a push to partner with downtown
businesses and residents who want to focus on sustainability.
That partnership also extends to our
relationships with Orange County and OUC. Construction is underway
at OUC’s new administration building to make it the greenest
building in our urban core.
Today’s event presenter, the Downtown
Orlando Partnership, has agreed to expand their popular “Golden
Brick Award of Excellence” program. A new Green Bricks category has
been added to recognize those who make a positive environmental
From green innovation… to cutting
edge animation… downtown Orlando aims to be the “high tech home” for
film and digital media. Not too long ago, we unveiled a vision for a
downtown “Creative Village.”
House of Moves, the world’s largest
motion capture studio, is almost ready to open its new east coast
facility and will serve as a another cornerstone to the Creative
Nearby, UCF’s Florida Interactive
Entertainment Academy is already producing the graduates that will
fuel this growing industry in our City.
Technology is literally everywhere
downtown. SmartCity has turned up free, outdoor, wireless Internet
service for mobile users creating WIFI SmartZones throughout
As we advance towards the future, we
do so with a focus on restoring one of the most historic areas in
Church Street Station was once a
destination for visitors and residents, and now, Church Street is
returning to its past glory. As you read in the paper this morning,
just outside our doors will sit a new Hilton Hotel connected to this
very ballroom. A host of new restaurants will be opening like a new
pizza restaurant, a new steakhouse and a dessert cafe. You will also
be able to see the guy who started it all on Church Street Bob Snow
as he reopens the Cheyenne Saloon early next year.
And the best news of all is that
Church Street Station will once again be a hub for restaurants,
entertainment and transportation for our downtown.
Finally, last week, Orlando was
accepted into the renowned national “Main Street” program. This
initiative provides small, neighborhood businesses with tools and
training so they can work together to make their local business
When approved by our City Council, we
will be the first “big city” urban main street program in the
The “main street” philosophy is
simple: A city can only be great if it has a great downtown … A City
can only have a great downtown if it has great neighborhoods.
Orlando is already blessed with
distinct, vibrant neighborhoods. This “big city” plan will establish
programs in each of our six City districts to foster healthier,
stronger commercial corridors.
Over the years, I’ve used a lot of
numbers to chronicle our downtown renaissance. I certainly used a
However, ultimately, our downtown
success story isn’t all about square footage or dollar signs.
Our accomplishments cannot only be measured in facts and figures.
To truly see where we’ve come from
and where we’re headed... you have to realize that success is also
measured in the faces and places that make up our downtown.
Our downtown success story is in this
It’s with each and every one of you
and our entire community.
Each of you has a story, a reason why
you chose to be involved in reshaping and reinventing what downtown
Orlando could be.
Each of you has worked to create a
downtown that belongs to everyone… a downtown that acts as “Central
Florida’s front porch”…
A place where people from across the
region come to be with each other, celebrate with one another, be
It’s a place where we build community
bonds and lasting memories.
In the spirit of this thought, I’d
like to welcome all of you to Orlando’s front porch – right here in
Back to Top