By Anjali Fluker - Things are stronger than ever in the city of Orlando, and Mayor Buddy Dyer said there’s still more new endeavors on the way that will bring even more success in the coming years.
Dyer’s annual State of the City address on April 29 drew a more than capacity crowd to the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
In his address, Dyer pointed to everything the city has accomplished in the last year — including drawing a record 62 million visitors, opening the arts center, rebuilding the Orlando Citrus Bowl, the launch of SunRail, attracting major employers like Red Lobster Seafood Co. to downtown and the U.S. Tennis Association to Lake Nona, and starting plans for a new University of Central Florida/Valencia College campus in downtown.
But Dyer also announced he has more work to do and plans to run for a fifth term to try to accomplish even more en route to becoming a world-class city.
“At a time when the state and federal governments are in gridlock, here in Central Florida we are celebrating unprecedented achievements through strong collaborations that reach beyond partisan politics and create a unified community,” Dyer said. “Our region is buzzing about what we’ve accomplished together.”
And here’s a closer look at some of the key takeaways in Dyer’s address:
- Lake Nona’s Medical City in southeast Orlando boasts $3 billion worth of construction totaling 7 million square feet, including the Orlando VA Medical Center, which created more high-quality jobs and will serve 400,000 veterans when it opens this year.
- Orlando startups Code School LLC and Pentaho Corp. sold for more than $600 million combined. Read about the Code School sale and the Pentaho sale in OBJ’s previous stories.
- Church Street Exchange in downtown Orlando has gone from vacant to 70 percent leased in one year, featuring 70 startups.
- The Semoran Boulevard Vision Plan has helped encourage not only sidewalk and streetscape improvements, but more than $22 million in private investment.
- The city is updating its development software with more cutting-edge technology to provide developers, contractors and small businesses an easier, faster way to navigate the city’s planning and permitting process.
- The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority — Lynx — will break ground next month on its third route for Lymmo, the free downtown circulator bus.
- Orlando has more than 50 city-owned and privately owned buildings that are or will soon be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. The city alone has saved 30 percent in energy costs with its 24 green buildings.
- Orlando’s Audubon Park Garden District and Richmond Heights are the first two neighborhoods in the city to try to secure an EcoDistrict designation, signifying the communities are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and have smarter infrastructure and transportation methods.
- The city also is working with other groups on programs to help the homeless population, bolster public safety and encourage more affordable housing, including redeveloping six lots at Jefferson Park into single-family homes for veterans and local law enforcement officers.
“We do all of this on sound financial footing,” Dyer said. “We’ve maintained our triple A credit rating with Fitch, the highest rating available. We can stand with any city in the country when it comes to being fiscally responsible.”