April 23 2013

Talking Sustainability: An Interview with Orlando, Florida’s Creative Village Developer

Technology, education, and sustainability are the driving forces behind Orlando’s upcoming Creative Village, a 68-acre infill project in downtown Orlando. Craig Ustler, 50 Most Powerful People in Orlando mainstay and co-developer of the site with the City of Orlando, sat down with me to talk about the carefully chosen, innovative urban planning practices he plans to apply on the site.

Creative Village Amway Arena Parramore Downtown Orlando Education

One of Ustler’s major inspirations is Portland’s Pearl District. “It’s not a real estate project anymore. It’s a neighborhood and a culture, a sense of community. It gets the right results and it has become a lifestyle.” The district’s success and the city’s overall reputation (think: Portlandia) have made it so “it’s not even debated whether a new development would be green.” So, how will Creative Village achieve this cultural and branding shift in Orlando?

In terms of energy efficiency, Ustler points out that our current approach is backwards. “Instead of figuring out how to drive farther on a tank of gas or in an electric car to keep going with sprawl, we should take a look at our built environment.” If our neighborhoods support walking as a type of alternative energy and a household can eliminate even one car trip per day, you are presented with a dramatic, yet attainable, reduction in energy use.

Craig Ustler Creative Village Downtown Orlando Florida Development Mixed Use PD

Another important piece of the Creative Village sustainability puzzle will be urban agriculture. Combining urban food production in a high-tech, creative environment is actually a logical next step. “There is way more confluence in that than we thought,” says Ustler, citing that Brooklyn’s creative class cares as much about agriculture as it does about resource preservation.

Craig Ustler sees Creative Village as a place to send out a new message about Orlando. “The City’s already doing some pretty cool stuff, but it’s not necessarily organized in a way that it gets the message out.” His goal is to create a diverse, sustainable neighborhood that serves as a demonstration project for what new development projects can achieve. “We see Creative Village as a place to get that message out.”

What innovative sustainability practice(s) has your campus or neighborhood adopted?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Alex Lenhoff

Alex Lenhoff is a graduate of the Masters of Planning in Civic Urbanism program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. His other degrees include anthropology and foreign languages, which provide him with a diverse, human-centered perspective on urban planning. Alex returned to Orlando after spending a few years traveling through Europe, teaching English, and attending universities in Germany and Spain. He hopes to use his experiences abroad to further the built environment in Florida through efficient design, environmentally friendly practices, and authentic communities. During his time at The Grid, Alex wrote about Orlando’s challenges and successes, while profiling a city coming into its own.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 at 9:45 am and is filed under Environmental Design, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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