ORLANDO, Fla. – A new project underneath Interstate 4 is called the Under-I. This will be an urban park to be constructed in almost 10 acres of the downtown stretch of the interstate.
“We think it’s a really big deal. I mean, it’s a very innovative project, very creative use of space,” Thomas Chatmon, executive director for the downtown development board said. “This gives us the opportunity to fulfill one of the visions of Mayor Dyer which has always been to stitch together if you will, bring together with the west side with the downtown.”
Right now, the urban park project is in its conceptual stage. It’s intended to unite the west side of Orlando with downtown.
“Just to the east of Garland is the Central Business District, the Traditional Business District of downtown, and just to the west of Huey is the Parramore community. A traditionally African American community rich in heritage and history,” Chatmon, who is also with the redevelopment community agency of the city said.
From East Garland to west Huey Avenues and from North of Washington to the South of Church street, the city beautiful expects people who are indigenous to the area will visit the urban park on a daily basis--a park which will be free to everyone.
“This is a very innovative creative way of looking at a space beneath an interstate, we don’t know of anything that exists like it so far and so we think it’ll be a first for America,” Chatmon said.
City of Orlando officials said the urban park will provide a variety of activities like a soccer field, volleyball and basketball courts, areas where people can gather, performance spaces, play areas, and vendor kiosks.
“This is gonna be truly unique, but also I think it’s a project, depending upon what we ultimately decide to go with our vision, which could really be a destination for tourists to come and take a look,” Chatmon said. “Construction cannot begin until the Ultimate I-4 construction that is ongoing now, ends. We project that we are about three to four years out.”
Orlando officials said there are five programmed blocks in the Under‐I Preliminary Vision Plan. Each is expected to have a collection of similar activities.
The area north of West Washington Street is the Heritage Block that could feature elements such as:
- A trail connection to the future Westmoreland to Lake Eola Park Urban Trail and a connection to Gertrude’s Walk and the Orlando Urban Trail
- Parramore history pavement displays
- Three interchangeable mural walls
The Sports Block, bounded by West Washington Street and West Central Boulevard, is the largest block of the Under‐I Park. This block features sports and recreation areas for all ages and lifestyles.
Between West Central Boulevard and West Pine Street, the Play Block is an area where families and children can come together and play. The northern end of this block is anchored by the Central Boulevard LYMMO station, providing direct access to the LYMMO Grapefruit and Lime lines, as well as other regional LYNX routes.
In the block between West Pine Street and West Church Street, the Unity Block could have multiple gathering and performance spaces to unite the community including:
- Life‐size chess challenge or digital gaming area
- Community rooms
- Skate park
- Pop‐up event spaces for musicians, performers, and artists
- Outdoor classroom spaces for education and exercise classes such as Yoga or Zumba
The south side of West Church Street is the Market Block that would provide eating, entertainment, and market spaces with ample room for vendors and patrons.
Once the Ultimate I-4 project comes to an end, FDOT will hand over space for the park to the city of Orlando development board so construction can begin. It’s expected it will take about 18 months for the project to be completed.