Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

UCF plans to build in downtown Orlando

The University of Central Florida plans to build a satellite campus in downtown Orlando, an estimated $200-million project that economic developers hope will serve as a catalyst for the city’s core.

UCF and Valencia College, which will also have a presence on the campus, say they could ultimately have more than 10,000 students studying and living downtown. Boosters hope the new campus will help spark the “Creative Village” project, a long-planned, privately led redevelopment of a 68-acre property near the northwestern edge of downtown that was home to a basketball arena.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says the UCF campus, modeled after one built by Arizona State University in Phoenix, would help make downtown Orlando a “24/7 activity hub for central Florida.”

UCF President John Hitt says the school is considering relocating a number of existing programs, including digital media, visual arts and others that would complement UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, which is already downtown. Programs with “an outward focus and a record of internships” and public-service disciplines are also likely candidates, he says. And the university will move UCF TV, the local public broadcasting affiliate, downtown.

Hitt also says the university wants to use the downtown campus to establish a national model program for students with intellectual disabilities.

Hitt says UCF will ask for between $50 million and $60 million from the state in the 2015 legislative session and estimates a total price tag of between $150 million and $200 million.


Tribune Publishing appointed Nancy Meyer publisher and CEO of the Orlando Sentinel. Meyer, who had been publisher of the Hartford Courant, replaces Howard Greenberg, who had been publisher of both the Sentinel and the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.Greenberg will remain publisher of the Sun Sentinel.

Jeffrey Smith, CEO of activist hedge fund Starboard Value, was among 12 new directors elected to the board of Darden Restaurants, as investors in the company voted to replace the company’s entire board with Starboard-nominated candidates. Darden, the parent company of Olive Garden restaurants, is the only Fortune 500 company based in Orlando.

Nemours Children’s Health System appointed Vonda Sexton managing director of strategy and business for Florida. She had been director of business development and strategy for Nemours in central Florida and will remain based in Orlando.

Digital Risk CEO and co-founder Peter Kassbov resigned this month, shortly after the struggling Maitland-based company announced it would lay off more than 30 workers. Digital Risk’s president, Alex Santos, also is resigning.

Business Briefs

APOPKA — The city gave former city administrator Richard Anderson a two-year consulting and lobbying contract that will pay him $528,000 plus expenses, even though he has no experience as a lobbyist. Anderson also received a payment of nearly $350,000 for unused vacation, personal and sick time.

KISSIMMEE — The Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo will be held in Kissimmee for the first time.The championship event will be held at the city’s Silver Spurs Arena from March 25-28.

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Two Marriott hotels broke ground at Walt Disney World’s Flamingo Crossings, the first two buildings to begin construction at the long-stalled project targeting budget-conscious travelers.Disney World’s government, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, has spent approximately $20 million preparing the site for development.

MAITLAND — The Maitland Art Center was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Parks Service, making it the first site in the four-county metro Orlando region to receive the designation.

MOUNT DORA — The city, a popular antique and arts festival destination, completed a $3-million renovation of its downtown that included wider sidewalks, new water And sewer lines and more landscaping.

ORANGE COUNTY — University of Central Florida researchers set a school record with $145.6 million in funded research during the 2014 fiscal year, a 30% jump from the previous year.

John Wyckoff, the former Greater Orlando Aviation Authority executive director credited as a driving force behind the development of Orlando International Airport into a world-class facility, passed away at age 82.

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to rehire SunRail platform attendants, or “ambassadors,” after ridership on the new commuter-rail service fell for the third consecutive month in September.

The Central Florida Expressway Authority decided to raise speed limits from 65 mph to 70 mph on the State Road 417 and 429 toll roads.

A jury awarded Orange County homeowners $20.7 million in a classaction suit for healthy citrus trees that were destroyed as part of the state’s citrus canker eradication program.

SeaWorld Orlando will not add polar bears to its collection after its last one died over the summer. The marine park instead moved harbor seals into the former polar bear habitat.

ORLANDO — FedEx Ground agreed to lease about 85,000 square feet in the 25-acre John Young Business Park. > F&J Developers broke ground on the Brownstones, a 28-unit luxury town home development in the Thornton Park neighborhood. > The city awarded a $147,000 community development block grant to the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, allowing the organization to remodel its facilities and expand services beyond free HIV testing. > Lockheed Martin’s Missiles & Fire Control Orlando group won a contract worth up to $100 million from the U.S. Air Force. > The Orchid Garden, a New Orleans-themed space in downtown’s Church Street Station complex, completed a $2-million renovation and is now being leased out for weddings and other events. > CNL Healthcare Properties, a realestate investment trust sponsored by Orlandobased CNL Financial Group, bought five health care facilities in the Midwest for $131.1 million.

PORT CANAVERAL — The port turned over its police operations to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. The Canaveral Port Authority had voted in May to deactivate its own police department because of concerns about keeping pace with growth and signed a $4.9 million annual contract with the sheriff’s department.

SEMINOLE COUNTY — County commissioners rejected a request by the Catholic Diocese of Orlando to build hundreds of family homes and apartments.

WINTER GARDEN — Pompano Beach-based Baer’s Furniture broke ground on an 84,000-sq.-ft. showroom.

WINTER PARK — The assets of insurance brokerage Kuykendall Gardner were acquired by Chicago-based Hub International, which used the acquisition to establish a new location in central Florida.


Gary Morse
Founder of The Villages

H. Gary Morse, the developer who transformed a small mobile home park into The Villages, the massive retirement community northwest of Orlando spanning three counties, died at age 77. In addition to guiding the growth of The Villages into a city of close to 100,000, Morse was an influential figure within the national Republican Party.

SpaceX launched a rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Its payload included a 3-D printer developed by a UCF alumni and a research project by a UCF physics professor exploring lowenergy collisions of dust particles to better understand the conditions that lead to the formation of planets.