Updated 2 months ago
With almost $5 billion worth of projects under way or about to break ground in downtown Orlando, civic leaders are soliciting suggestions to ensure the area can improve as a place where people will want to live, work and be entertained. Project DTO, short for Project Downtown Orlando, is led by volunteer businesspeople, representatives of the arts and sports communities, longtime residents and relative newcomers.
During a kickoff at City Hall in April, Mayor Buddy Dyer charged the group with crafting “a road map for Orlando to become the nation’s highest quality urban environment.”
Cari Coats, an Orlando marketing executive who spent 16 years with the Orlando Magic front office, heads Project Downtown’s executive advisory committee. She is also executive director of the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship at Rollins College and owns a marketing firm. Members of the committee include Tom Sittema, CEO of CNL Financial Group; Paul Mears, of Mears Transportation; Kelly Cohen, managing partner of Southern Strategy Group; Bill Dymond, president of Lowndes Drosdick law firm; and Vivian Bryant, executive director of the Orlando Housing Authority.
The task force, which reports to the executive advisory committee, has more than 70 members and is chaired by Fred Kittinger, associate vice president of university relations at the University of Central Florida. Subcommittees are focusing on specifics such as arts and culture, economic competitiveness, urban amenities, open space and historic preservation.
In 2003, Coats led a group that came up with more than 140 recommendations that have paid off, such as attracting a multiscreen movie theater to Orange Avenue and a full-service supermarket for the ground floor of a condo tower. The new task force is soliciting feedback from the public — asking people to report what they like about downtown as well as things they don’t like — through its website, projectdto.com, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The task force’s work will last about a year.
PROFILE: Summit Broadband
Summit Broadband, a small high-speed internet and telecom company based in Orlando signed a $3.6-million 10-year contract to be the fiber network provider for Valencia College in Orange and Osceola counties. Valencia says the deal will save the school more than $1 million. In five years Summit, which also delivers phone, cable and data transport service, has grown from 30 to 150 employees, and late last year the business was bought by a subsidiary of Nassau-based Cable Bahamas for $53.4 million in cash.
Former Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, who also has served as Florida’s Secretary of State, was appointed chairman of the board for central Florida- based Urban Trust Bank.
Daniel Polfer was named chief technology offcer for SightPlan, a software company in Orlando.
Dawn Willis was named publisher of the West Orange Times in Winter Garden by the Observer Media Group, after the Sarasota-based company bought the weekly newspaper. Observer Media owns eight other community papers in Florida.
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — Sprint laid off 400 workers at its call center in Altamonte. > Crescent Communities is building a 249-unit apartment complex on eight acres of its 80-acre, mixed-use Gateway project, off Maitland Boulevard.
BREVARD COUNTY — Work has begun on widening and deepening Canaveral Harbor to allow large ships better access in and out of Port Canaveral. The $35-million project is to be completed in November. > Canaveral Port Authority commissioners approved a new 10-year marine terminal operating and lease agreement with Morton Salt. The deal will generate $13 million for the port and allow Morton Salt to add a warehouse and new product lines. The company already employs 54 at the port.
DELAND — Florida Hospital DeLand has signed a fve-year marketing agreement with Stetson University’s athletic department. The 156-bed hospital will pay $35,000 a year for a presence at Stetson athletic events and venues and for promotional support for all of the university’s 18 sports teams.
KISSIMMEE — Royal Oak Homes, based in Baldwin Park in Orlando, opened its newest townhome community, Emerald Lake, with two models at the community off South poinciana Boulevard and Lizzie Brown Road in Kissimmee. Steve Orosz, co-president of Royal Oak Homes, says 76 townhomes will range from 1,500 square feet to 2,000 square feet and be priced from the mid-$140,000s.
LAKE MARY — Tolaris Homes started construction on the frst of six custom homes planned for Sand Hill Cove, on a private culde- sac off Country Club Road near downtown Lake Mary. Rick Bavec, a principal with Tolaris, says the homes will be priced from $600,000 to more than $1 million.
Orlando-based Park Square Homes bought two prime residential parcels totaling almost 16 acres just north of Heathrow for about $2.6 million, or $163,000 per acre. The company plans to develop 38 luxury singlefamily homes.
ORLANDO — University of Central Florida researcher Debashis Chanda and other optical and nanotech specialists at UCF developed a potential breakthrough for producing lightbending material for socalled invisibility cloaks, which could be used in military, entertainment and other applications. The work was featured in the March issue of Advanced Optical Materials Journal.
SANFORD — Aerosim Flight Academy has partnered with Piedmont Airlines to train pilots for the airline through its Airline Pilot Pathway program. In the past fve years, Aeorism has placed more than 300 frst offcer pilots at 30 airlines and trained pilots for service in more than 15 countries.
WINTER PARK — First Green Bank, a central Florida-based lender that specializes in eco-friendly projects and clients, opened a ffth branch, on south Orlando Avenue in Winter Park. The building is designed to be a “netzero energy” structure, with enough renewable solar power to offset total energy consumption on an annual basis.