Creative Village: An Ambitious Project for Orlando

The joint campus between Valencia College and the University of Central Florida, which will open this fall, is part of a greater city project called Creative Village.

The idea of Creative Village began in 2005 with the intent to use 68 acres of unused space near downtown to combine education, residency, hospitality, and commercial property to create a self-sufficient, complete, and diverse urban area.

Kelly Moody, Chief Planner in the Economic Development Department of the project, explained that in 2005, the Creative Village Development, LCC and the City of Orlando partnered to decide on the next potential usage of the downtown property once the former Amway Arena was demolished.

“In 2010, the federal government funded $17 million in grants to work towards the project,” Moody said. The federal help allowed Creative Village to start up and become the plan that, as of today, has received more than $1.5 billion in residential, commercial, and educational infrastructure investments.

What also makes the Creative Village stand out is its sustainable and accessible approach, as more than 90 percent of the debris from the Arena demolition was recycled for current structures and the area is conveniently close to the Lynx Central Station.

One of the partnership’s focuses was promoting growth for the Parramore neighborhood and the downtown area by providing affordable education, job training, and economic opportunities, as well as attracting entrepreneurs and businesses.  

VelocityRED and other real estate companies collaborate with Creative Village’s intention to encourage a mixed-income residential area.

The first phase of the 20-year-long project approaches completion with the opening of the UCF and Valencia College campuses this fall. The two remaining phases, that will run up to 2030, encompass more student-housing, offices, and hotels.

Mike Kilbride, the Assistant Vice President of  UCF Downtown, referred to Creative Village as an urban ecosystem based on educational and professional opportunities. “The uniqueness of this project is that students will have an academic experience anchored in 15-acres area but the campus will really be the city of Orlando itself,” Kilbride said.

Kilbride also said that the accessibility of the campus location will provide numerous downtown jobs and internship opportunities to students.

Among the facilities, the UCF Valencia campus will have are the UCF Police Department Building, the Center for Emerging Media, and the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons.

“We offer a full-service campus where students can live, learn, work, and play all within downtown Orlando,” said  Dr. Eugene Jones, Executive Dean for Valencia Downtown Campus.

The project is still under construction, and a job creation study for Creative Village estimated more than  6,000 new jobs and at least 5,000 jobs after the completion of the first phase.

Cathy Duvall, Director of Strategic Partnerships said the plan aims to expand residents’ access to services in a single but ample location and attracting more people into the city of Orlando in the next 10 years.