Development board set to introduce downtown Orlando advancement project

Project DTO 2.0 scheduled for introduction at board presentation Sept. 26

Orlando city officials are working to bring a seven-year vision to life to advance Downtown Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando city officials are working to bring a seven-year vision to life to advance downtown Orlando.

The City of Orlando Downtown Development Board is set to introduce Project DTO 2.0, which is the next stop following its previous Project DTO.

DDB Assistant Director David Barilla said Project DTO is a project from 2015, which was aimed at bringing the board and more than 100 community stakeholders together to discuss ways to advance downtown Orlando.

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“Project DTO 2.0 is now taking that vision and putting together that action plan to bring it to reality,” Barilla said.

It is a plan that Barilla said will impact residents who live downtown and others who frequent the corridor.

The board is still in the “Early Strategies” phase of the project, which is the second phase overall.

“Downtown is functioning a lot different than it did in the past,” Barilla said.

He added that about 20 years ago, downtown Orlando looked very different, and since then, the population has almost doubled. There are now approximately 20,000 residents who live in what the board considers downtown Orlando.

Barilla said communities can expect it to look and function even better in the future.

The project will focus on three areas: mobility, use and space. To improve mobility, officials are considering new streetscapes.

“Reworking our streets in downtown and taking those to a lot of one-way pairs to two-way corridors,” Barilla said.

In terms of use, the board is looking at new and exciting ways to enhance experiences around the area. Downtown Orlando has multiple tall apartment and office buildings, but Barilla said the ground floors should attract pedestrians.

“No matter how big the buildings get, that first floor, first two floors we all have as pedestrians — that’s where the most impact is made,” Barilla said.

Tyler Smith, a downtown resident, loves living in the area, but he said downtown needs more shops and restaurants.

“I always see people walking around throughout downtown, and that would be great to have another spot to go to, especially if it’s right under an apartment building,” Smith said.

To tackle the final key element — space — the board will discuss improvements to sidewalks and bike lanes.

“The plan is looking at all those things that happen in downtown, all the types of development, various strategic sites that are in the area and what those could ultimately be...” Barilla said. “Affordable housing and various components of housing, and making sure that there’s opportunities for all is absolutely something that’s part of the conversation.”

Barilla said there is a ten-year implementation window for Project DTO 2.0, but smaller-scale projects could be finished as early as the end of 2022.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the future of downtown, so it’s (going to) be great,” Smith said.

The development board will present Project DTO 2.0 to Orlando City Council on Sept. 26.

The official draft of the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

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Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.