Soap box: how not to kill Orlando while growing up

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As we head into 2022, Bungalower Media is setting intentions for the New Year, and while we do that (and do Organizational Pilates), we’re giving out some self-care tips to keep The City Beautiful in. their pocket over the next 360 days.

Setting intentions is the act of stating what you intend to accomplish through your actions, whether it’s on the New Year or on a day-to-day basis. It’s a commitment to taking the journey you choose each day with a focus on who you are, what you do and why you do it, and it shouldn’t be limited to people practicing yoga in stretchy pants.

“NO MORE STRIP MALLS”

Cheap land leads to cheap construction and is ultimately the herald of urban sprawl. Central Florida’s development landscape is still relatively young compared to the rest of the country, and it’s cheaper for businesses to build on virgin land than within city limits. This means that all of those corridors between Orlando and its neighbors will continue to see larger, random stretches of single story development.

Urban sprawl is not only hard on the eyes, it eats away precious wild lands and arable land. Urbanization has reduced Florida’s scrub habitat by more than 60 percent, leaving less and less space to recharge our aquifer and provide habitat for endangered species like the lovable gopher turtle. We deserve better.

Things to do:

  • More accommodations: More housing options in the city center means fewer reasons for people to retire to the suburbs. This means less new developments in environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Say goodbye to single-use buildings: Single-use zoning limits the number of revenue sources a developer can have on a property and promotes cheaper construction.
  • Urban growth limits: Cities like Portland have drawn lines on the map to restrict new development on natural lands and push for more infill development towards the downtown area.
  • Hire a new Creative Director of Places: Mayor Dyer reshuffled his staff in 2020 and randomly created a new Director of Placemaking and Competitiveness post at Town Hall for his former chief of staff, Frank Billingsley. Billingsley has since retired from his post without having had a chance to really adjust to his role, and we hear that the city isn’t necessarily interested in replacing him. While losing the role before even letting us see it really takes off would be a big mistake, it may present the opportunity to evolve it into something like a Office of public space management which could focus on public space issues such as access, security, roaming, inclusion and infrastructure. But why can’t we have both?

“MORE DISPOSABLE DEVELOPMENT”

Developers don’t build like they used to. Some of our most historic and beautiful buildings were created by investors who expected to get their money back more than 20-30 years after their creation, which means they took the time to invest in the quality and architectural details that we can enjoy for a hundred years. later.

Most modern developers are now operating under the assumption / belief that they should turn a profit ASAP and that means creating cheaper buildings with higher rents to satisfy their investors, leaving us with buildings that have a life span. shorter life and considerably lower attractiveness.

This environment, coupled with the fact that older buildings are more expensive to renovate and modernize, means that we are seeing more and more of them being razed to free up real estate for something bigger and flashier.

Historic preservation initiatives can provide incentives to developers in the form of tax credits to help offset these higher costs, but often lack strict codes to fully protect these buildings. The City of Orlando has codes and policies in place to help promote the preservation of historic sites and even signs, but sometimes like with a historic sign at the old Porter Paints on Colonial Drive, it’s always easier for businesses to simply sweep items under a carpet (or vinyl wrap).

To try :

  • Offer better incentives: Some cities offer certain types of permit exemptions for certified preservation work or even density bonuses if developers work with them to preserve a certain site from demolition. Some have grant and loan programs associated with historic properties or heritage areas.
  • Stick to the restrictions you have: The restrictions do not mean prohibitions, but rather are meant to help guide the right types of uses and development that the municipality has identified for significant properties. If these restrictions don’t match that developer’s vision, let them build somewhere else nearby.

“GROWTH SHOULD NOT BE DIRTY”

Growth is not a dirty word. Cities can improve as they grow, but it’s all about intention and mindfulness. We can manage growth through a process called “incremental development” which is basically building something piece by piece and that’s exactly how communities were originally built, block by block and building by building.

To try :

  • Strengthen our main streets: When they were originally launched in 2008, Main Streets in Orlando were tasked with helping to mark and differentiate their respective neighborhoods and to help empower the businesses that made them home. Years later, it’s time to give these offices more money, more autonomy, and the ability to help control and foster development on their own terms with comprehensive updated neighborhood maps. Main streets know what their historic assets are and they know what their communities are lacking. They should be allowed to actively recruit companies that should be moving in, and they should be doing so with a real salary from the city of Orlando.
  • Encourage more small-scale developers: Small development is really sexy right now and applies to projects that are generally overlooked by large developers like infill apartment buildings or real work properties. Small projects are more flexible and can fill in missing pieces in neighborhoods and help inspire new energy and new activities and are a great way for newcomers to dip their feet in the development basin. They can also help ease the burden of missing middle and affordable housing and should be encouraged by local municipalities. Imagine a small-scale developer incubator program with private and public investments to support Orlando’s tech hub programs.

“WE ALL DESERVE TO BE CONNECTED”

Getting from point A to point B by car is becoming increasingly difficult in Orlando. We know that because every time we publish an article about new housing development everyone is commenting on how much traffic is going to get worse. We also know that, because we live here and we know how to avoid corridors like Virginia Drive around 5 p.m. because it’s a two-lane road that leads to nowhere.

Most of our historic neighborhoods have been designed with grid road networks that help reduce congestion by providing multiple route options, but in older suburbs and newer subdivisions you will find that these various route options are much thinner, both by dated design standards and natural geography; College Park, for example, is notoriously closed to other neighborhoods like Ivanhoe Village to the east by Lake Ivanhoe and I-4, and actual doors and walls to the south along Colonial Drive.

The City of Orlando recently took the opportunity to reconnect Parramore with adjacent Holden Heights with the extension of Hicks Avenue to Anderson Street, following the removal of a series of access ramps for the 408 and I-4 which had Strangled griffin park and restricted flows between the two neighborhoods.

But connectivity also means more choice when it comes to transportation. Good transport links can benefit business communities by increasing access to employment, they can shape healthier places by encouraging cycling and reducing air pollution, and

To try :

  • Without a car : We’re not saying ban cars all over town, but how about some neighborhoods like the Central Business District? Oslo and London did it, why can’t we?
  • Think outside the reserved bus lane: Public transport ridership is declining across the country, which makes it difficult to advocate for funding when the numbers don’t support it, but autonomous vehicles can help make this point, especially in places like downtown Orlando that have dedicated lanes in place to keep buses off the main drag. But what if these lanes were used to promote scooter sharing or the use of bicycles instead?
  • Support public transport initiatives: Good public transit costs money and a good way to find it is through a penny tax initiative. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings looks to kickstart his sales tax idea by the penny that has been put on hold by the pandemic, so consider supporting that when you have the chance. It is estimated that this could bring in $ 600 million a year to the county for transportation projects and that is a lot of bike lanes.
  • It’s not “these people”, it’s just about us”: It’s too easy to honk someone on their bike because it slows down your trip to the office. Do not treat this person as something “other” just because they are different. She’s a person, just like you, who tries not to ruin everything during their day. And if they had had an alternate, safer route to get to work, they probably would have taken it, so breathe and relax.


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