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  • Mark Baratelli, Editor

Under-i Urban Park Project in Downtown Orlando Begins With Hunt for Consultant Team



We told you in 2015 it was coming.


Monday the City of Orlando issued a Request for Qualification Statements (RQS) to begin the process of selecting a primary consultant and consultant team to complete the design and construction plans for the future Under-i park.

The Under-i will be a 9.75-acre urban community gathering space beneath the I-4 bridge decks in downtown Orlando. The project area, also known as The Bridge District, is the longest at-grade connection between the east and west sides of the downtown core along the entire 14-mile I-4 corridor that bisects through the city center. This area is generally bound on the north by West Washington Street, West Church Street on the south, Hughey Avenue on the west and Garland Avenue on the east.

Through the Under-i project, the city seeks to transform the area to provide a multitude of active and passive uses that include sports courts, gathering places, performance spaces, play areas, vendor opportunities and local heritage experiences. The city also envisions this new community park will inspire residents and visitors by highlighting Orlando’s diverse community and delivering creative and engaging experiences that promote health, education, art, play, and fellowship.

“As downtown Orlando continues to grow it’s important that the city provide diverse amenities that offer a high quality of life for all our residents and visitors,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Once complete this project will not only provide new authentic experiences and unique places, but also further unite our entire downtown core.”

The new Under-i park will also help further meet the vision set forth in the DTOutlook plan by the community to ensure downtown Orlando remains “An Awesome Outdoor City.” Additionally, the DTOutlook calls for the exploration of opportunities to unite the east and west sides of downtown which the new urban park will help accomplish by creating a new place for people to gather, connect and enjoy additional venues for entertainment and events.





More Under-I Goodies:


The I‐4 Ultimate construction project, scheduled to conclude in early 2022, is rebuilding all of the interstate bridges through downtown Orlando. The rebuilt I‐4 Ultimate bridges, significantly higher and wider than the previous bridges, will create new and unique spaces below Interstate 4 in the downtown core between Church Street and Washington Street. Those distinctive new spaces are referred to as the Under‐i.


The city will transform the Under‐i spaces into a multitude of active and passive uses that include sports courts, gathering places, performance spaces, play areas, vendor opportunities and local heritage experiences. The city also envisions this high‐caliber urban community park will inspire residents and visitors by delivering inclusive, vibrant, best‐in‐the‐nation spaces that will unite our diverse community, deliver creative and engaging experiences and promote health, education, art, play and fellowship.


Construction is tentatively scheduled to start after the completion of the I‐4 Ultimate project.

A description of the city’s preliminary vision plan for the Under‐i is below.


The Under‐i Preliminary Vision Plan, while conceptual in nature, illustrates the scale, aspirations and potential of the Under‐i. The set of uses and their locations reflect a program that has evolved since the origin of the Under‐i concept six years ago during the Project DTO initiative. However, the Preliminary Vision Plan layout and program are still conceptual in nature and will continue to be refined and finalized, during the development of the Vision Plan and 100% Design Documents.


There are five programmed blocks in the Under‐i Preliminary Vision Plan that each contain a collection of similar activities that are intended to provide patrons with exceptional experiences. The block themes are: Heritage, Sports, Play, Unity and Market.

The area north of West Washington Street is the Heritage Block that could feature elements such as:

  • A trail connection to the future Westmoreland to Lake Eola Park Urban Trail and a connection to Gertrude’s Walk and the Orlando Urban Trail

  • Parramore history pavement displays

  • Three interchangeable mural walls

The Sports Block, bounded by West Washington Street and West Central Boulevard, is the largest block of the Under‐i Park. This block features sports and recreation areas for all ages and lifestyles. In the Preliminary Vision Plan, the Sports Block features:

  • An indoor size soccer field, two Futsal pitches, 4 multi‐purpose courts (basketball, volleyball, pickle ball, etc.)

  • Shuffleboard

  • A cross fit facility

  • A 1/4 mile running track

  • Table sports such as checkers, dominos and ping pong

  • Picnic tables

  • Staging area for food trucks and tournament support activities

  • Restrooms and a park administration pavilion

Between West Central Boulevard and West Pine Street, the Play Block, is an area where families and children can come together and play. The northern end of this block is anchored by the Central Boulevard LYMMO station, providing direct access to the LYMMO Grapefruit and Lime lines, as well as other regional LYNX routes. In the Preliminary Vision Plan the Play Block includes:

  • An accessible playground

  • Bocce ball court/open play area

  • Giant sand box

  • Interactive sculpture garden

  • Super swings (multiple types of swings)

  • Restrooms

  • Splash pad

In the block between West Pine Street and West Church Street, the Unity Block could have multiple gathering and performance spaces to unite the community including:

  • Life‐size chess challenge or digital gaming area

  • Community rooms

  • Skate park

  • Pop‐up event spaces for musicians, performers and artists

  • Outdoor classroom spaces for education and exercise classes such as Yoga or Zumba

  • More table sports (chess, checkers, ping pong)

  • Unity Square – a gathering space for everyone

  • A stage space for concerts and special events

In the Vision Plan the south side of West Church Street is the Market Block that would provide eating, entertainment and market spaces with ample room for vendors and patrons. There will also be a wide pedestrian connection under Interstate 4 between our world-class venues the Church Street entertainment areas. This block could include:

  • Two food kiosks

  • Several vendor kiosks

  • Space for vendor tents, farmers market or small art show

  • Small stage area with outdoor seating for entertaining strolling visitors

  • Restrooms


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mark@thedailycity.com

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