Looking at a city through the lens of an urban planner gives you a different perspective than the average citizen. Sure, it might make you pessimistic at times, but you are also aware of the positive changes cities make every day, and that your city could follow suit. During my six months as The Grid’s Central Florida correspondent, my goal was to profile a city (and, at times, a state) coming into its own.
A passion of mine, and a leitmotif in my blogging, has been Florida’s growing interest in public transportation. In Orlando, the metro region is at the cusp of revolutionizing its transit system. Not just residents stand to benefit from these changes; tourism-based transit options will drive the region’s major economy.
I also took a look at the rest of Florida and found that transportation initiatives are de rigueur in all of the state’s major cities. While all municipalities are making progress in this area, Miami will become the poster child among Florida’s most well-connected cities, in part due to two new intermodal stations taking shape. In the downtowns themselves, I explored Miami’s new Museum Park and Orlando’s plan for a set of new community venues and how they represent just some of the reasons people are moving back to downtowns.
However, successful landscapes need more than downtowns and transportation. I met with Orlando’s Creative Village developer Craig Ustler to talk about environmental and social sustainability, topics I touched on again talking about rural Floridians, Central Florida’s urban growth boundary, and land preservation.
The end of my time at The Grid coincides with the completion of my Master’s degree in Urban Planning at Rollins College. Now it’s time to apply this research and these ideas to the real-world planning profession. You can stay up-to-date with my work at www.alexlenhoff.com and to continue watching Orlando’s evolution, check out my personal blog, www.theORLANDOAN.com.