By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor
During this year’s State of Downtown speech, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced that Rida Development Corporation, the company behind ChampionsGate and Hilton Orlando, will take on a new challenge by building a $200 million transit-oriented development.
The mixed-use Central Station project will spread over a 5.6-acre parcel adjacent to the Lynx Central Station and across Orange Avenue from the Orange County Courthouse. The location facilitates a direct connection to SunRail, the 61-mile commuter train system scheduled to launch in 2014, making the Central Station the first example of transit-oriented development tied to the SunRail. According to an official release, a spine running through the center of the complex would link Orange Avenue with downtown’s main SunRail platform at the Lynx center.
The first phase of the development will consist of a hotel and several mid-rise apartment buildings of seven to ten stories, placed along the north side of the property, accompanied by ground-floor shops and restaurants. The costs of this first phase are estimated at $100 million. The second phase would add office space to the south side of the property, but the developer plans on waiting for a notable improvement of the commercial market before moving forward with the $100 million second phase.
Many large projects have been considered for the property bounded by Orange Avenue, Amelia Street, Livingston Street and the Lynx headquarters. The 5.6-acre tract, considered to be the largest undeveloped parcel downtown, was purchased by Rida Development for $15.1 million in 2008 from Palm Beach Land Trust—which also had plans for a $250 million mixed-use project tied into the commuter-rail system. Previous to Palm Beach Land Trust, the property was owned by Ron Pizzuti, who proposed Orlando City Center—a tower topped by a large open cube, but the project was shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration as it would have endangered the Orlando Executive Airport air traffic due to its height.