Downtown South to Become Testing Ground for Community Design

This is the Downtown South Neighborhood Improvement District

The Downtown South Neighborhood Improvement District got approval from City Council today to hire GAI Consultants and S&ME (Littlejohn) for $370,190 to develop a consolidated “Complete Streets” Master Plan for the District. Read the consultants' roadmap HERE. This project will commence FY2016-17 and likely end in FY2017-18.

Complete Streets are roadways that are safe and comfortable for all users – people walking, bicycling, and taking transit, people driving and truck drivers making deliveries. This includes impactful elements of development and transportation design:
  1. Orient buildings to the street 
  2. Reduce parking minimums 
  3. Cluster development and mix the land uses 
  4. Don’t allow traffic fears to block economic development 
  5. Design roadways to be safe for all users

The District expects to serve as a “lab”, “testing ground” or ”proving ground” used by the City, OUC and others for exploring new approaches to community design, infrastructure, vegetation and human interaction.

Ideas, examples and prototypes of “smart”, “green”, technology‐driven innovations in infrastructure, physical design, safety and human interactions are expected.

This Complete Streets Master Plan would govern the following: 
  1. future street sections
  2. streetscape materials (softscape, hardscape, site furnishings), lighting and opportunities for art and graphics
  3. multi‐modal mobility needs
  4. technological enhancements
  5. the relative position of buildings adjacent to the street

GAI Consultants and S&ME will also execute the following:
  1. planning the enhancement of an Orange Avenue streetscape with FDOT's design consultant, VHB
  2. Create a hierarchy of streets for bikes/peds, cars, transit and regional shipping trucks.
  3. conducting a charrette between the Advisory Council and Main Street Board to validate the vision of the District
  4. furthering enhancements to the Division Avenue, Michigan Street and Orange Avenue corridors
  5. creating development guidelines with accompanying Land Development Code amendments and visual guidebook that wraps up the various vision plans, guidelines, and improvements to the area suitable for marketing, development, and staff purposes.
  6. The following concepts will be explored for application within the Improvement District: Eco‐district, urban village, food hub, night‐sky, Ready for 100
  7. Each street in the district will get a ‘Summary Complete Street Character Sheet’ showing typical section and street materials, infrastructure issues, and building characteristics (generally) for each street. 
GAI will review the City’s Major Thoroughfare Plan, the County’s Transportation Plan, the MPO Plans and FDOT plans, “Green Works Orlando” plan, the South Downtown Vision Plan, the Downtown South Safe Neighborhood Plan, Orange Michigan Special Plan, GMP, LDC and other planning documents that apply to this area.

The following groups will be involved in this project: 
  1. the District
  2. City and County staff
  3. the Consulting Team of GAI and S&ME (Littlejohn)
  4. Kittelson Associates
  5. Toole Design Group
  6. Le‐Huu Partners
  7. SoDo Main Street leadership
  8. Orlando Health senior planners

Streets that are planned and designed using a Complete Streets approach may include:
  1. sidewalks
  2. bicycle facilities (such as protected bike lanes in urban areas)
  3. special bus lanes
  4. comfortable and accessible public transportation stops
  5. frequent and safe crossing opportunities
  6. median islands, accessible pedestrian signals and ramps
  7. curb extensions
  8. narrower travel lanes
  9. roundabouts, multimodal bridges

Extra Reading: In 2015 we told you Complete Streets was coming to Orlando and that SODO was going to have a major revamp: