Orlando hopes a new arts program will lure people downtown & get them to linger

The city of Orlando wants more people to enjoy the downtown atmosphere after work by offering free events throughout the day -- every day -- for a year.

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The Downtown Development Board and the United Arts of Central Florida teamed up to host local artists in and around downtown to make people enjoy the area all day instead of just at night.

“I think that also we could find things that are maybe suited for many different age groups,” said Jordan Giles, an Orlando performing artist. “Things like that, I think, can be hard sometimes -- especially with downtown being ‘the party scene.’”

In the next 90 days, people will see live music performances, sculptures, paintings and more across downtown.

“We’ll have activations in the core, in the Central Business District, in the Parramore area, in the North Corridor -- and things on weekends,” said David Barilla, DDB’s executive director.

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Orlando City Council members voted Monday to purchase a group of sought-after downtown properties with the goal of adding to the appeal of the commercial hub.
Orlando City Council members voted Monday to purchase a group of sought-after downtown properties with the goal of adding to the appeal of the commercial hub.
Two of the properties will specifically be used to expand the city’s crown jewel: Lake Eola Park.
Two of the properties will specifically be used to expand the city’s crown jewel: Lake Eola Park.
The purchases, totaling $19.4 million, will be paid for by Community Redevelopment Agency funding and will not affect the city’s budget.
The purchases, totaling $19.4 million, will be paid for by Community Redevelopment Agency funding and will not affect the city’s budget.
The purchased properties include 205 and 215 East Central Boulevard, sandwiched in between Lake Eola Park and the newly-added pocket park where a 7-Eleven store once stood.
The purchased properties include 205 and 215 East Central Boulevard, sandwiched in between Lake Eola Park and the newly-added pocket park where a 7-Eleven store once stood.
City planner David Barilla said 205 East Central– the larger of the two buildings – will be torn down to create a gateway to Lake Eola from Rosalind Avenue, while 215 might be preserved as a park venue.
City planner David Barilla said 205 East Central– the larger of the two buildings – will be torn down to create a gateway to Lake Eola from Rosalind Avenue, while 215 might be preserved as a park venue.
The properties also include 30 S. Orange Avenue, which was the site of a sandwich shop that burned down and has since been a vacant lot.
The properties also include 30 S. Orange Avenue, which was the site of a sandwich shop that burned down and has since been a vacant lot.
The city government leased the 30 S. Orange Ave. site last year with the intention of eventually buying it and turning it into a pocket park to add greenery to the city’s main street.
The city government leased the 30 S. Orange Ave. site last year with the intention of eventually buying it and turning it into a pocket park to add greenery to the city’s main street.
1 N. Orange Avenue is a 10-story building considered to be Orlando’s first skyscraper. It has sat vacant for 15 years.
1 N. Orange Avenue is a 10-story building considered to be Orlando’s first skyscraper. It has sat vacant for 15 years.
Orlando City Planner David Barilla said the city will examine keeping 1 N. Orange Avenue as office space or converting it to housing, either market-rate or affordable, and the city is eyeing the two-story bottom floor for a possible restaurant.
Orlando City Planner David Barilla said the city will examine keeping 1 N. Orange Avenue as office space or converting it to housing, either market-rate or affordable, and the city is eyeing the two-story bottom floor for a possible restaurant.
“It’s a very exciting time,” City Planner David Barilla said. “We had the opportunity come up to be able to take down four very impactful… sites in the heart of downtown to not only make one vision come to fruition, but a multitude of them.”
“It’s a very exciting time,” City Planner David Barilla said. “We had the opportunity come up to be able to take down four very impactful… sites in the heart of downtown to not only make one vision come to fruition, but a multitude of them.”
Barilla said plans were already in the works for the 30 S. Orange Avenue project, and that would be the first to undergo visible changes.
Barilla said plans were already in the works for the 30 S. Orange Avenue project, and that would be the first to undergo visible changes.
The order of the others wasn’t as clear. Barilla said the city would likely repackage the skyscraper to a developer with conditions attached so it’s used in a way the city sees as best for the community.
The order of the others wasn’t as clear. Barilla said the city would likely repackage the skyscraper to a developer with conditions attached so it’s used in a way the city sees as best for the community.
The purchases will be finalized between 90 days and one year after the vote.
The purchases will be finalized between 90 days and one year after the vote.
1 N. Orange Avenue is a 10-story building considered to be Orlando’s first skyscraper. It has sat vacant for 15 years.
1 N. Orange Avenue is a 10-story building considered to be Orlando’s first skyscraper. It has sat vacant for 15 years.

Through DDB and Community Redevelopment Agency funds, UA secured the $1.89 million contract.

Barilla said 15% of the funds will go to management fees, and the rest will pay for the artists.

“We felt that when you do the math, it’s about $100,000 a month broken up evenly between the activations,” Barilla said. “We felt that that was a great start.”

Over the year, he said the city will evaluate how many people attend the events and how they perceive them.

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Barilla said there will be 857 events, including live musical performances, sculptures, paintings and art performances.

There will be three events throughout the day.

UA is working actively to schedule the programming, write proposals and hire artists from the community.

Barilla said the city held several meetings seeking the community’s input, which it considered in selecting some of the artists.

Read: Orlando to buy 2 downtown properties to expand Lake Eola Park

As part of the deal for the Activation Arts Program, at least 25% of all performances or installations will need to be created by women or minority artists or businesses.

Barilla said the city seeks to highlight local artists representing different cultural backgrounds to celebrate all of Orlando.

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