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Orlando vs. Tampa Discussion

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On an almost unrelated notes, USF is moving its medical college to downtown Tampa with a 157 million complex include a 12 stories building with optional additional shell floors for future expansion.

 

Downtown Tampa is definitely one step ahead of us...with the Encore project, retails, all the new museums, Ybor and possiblly future Ray stadium.

 

Next for downtown Orlando, get some world class museums....

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On an almost unrelated notes, USF is moving its medical college to downtown Tampa with a 157 million complex include a 12 stories building with optional additional shell floors for future expansion.

 

Downtown Tampa is definitely one step ahead of us...with the Encore project, retails, all the new museums, Ybor and possiblly future Ray stadium.

 

Next for downtown Orlando, get some world class museums....

 

I totally disagree. I don't find downtown Tampa nearly as appealing as downtown Orlando.

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I totally disagree. I don't find downtown Tampa nearly as appealing as downtown Orlando.

Better looking high rise architecture if nothing else.

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On an almost unrelated notes, USF is moving its medical college to downtown Tampa with a 157 million complex include a 12 stories building with optional additional shell floors for future expansion.

 

Downtown Tampa is definitely one step ahead of us...with the Encore project, retails, all the new museums, Ybor and possiblly future Ray stadium.

 

Next for downtown Orlando, get some world class museums....

Tampa is miles ahead of downtown Orlando.

Orlando is full of bars and clubs , no reason to go down there.

Lake Eola is nice, but the swans and other animals make it filthy to try and enjoy anything dealing with food or picnicing.

Tampa has a nice waterfront and riverfront.

Tampa's musuems, channelside district alone blows downtown Orlando out of the water.

I Do like the Plaza in downtown Orlando though. More of these would help make downtown seem like it's only for the party crowd.

 

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Working in downtown Tampa majority of the week I completely disagree. Nothing to eat after 3pm, not very walkable. A few nice buildings but not very pedestrian scaled. Pretty skyline from the interstate but wind tunnels on the ground.

The new USF Health building is nice, great lighting package on it. Tampa overall does do lighting better but I would take downtown Orlando over Tampa any day. (And twice on Sundays #FarmersMarket )

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Yes, downtown Tampa is so much better that it has 6784 residents (source: Tampa Downtown Partnership, including Harbour Island) while the latest numbers from DDB for downtown O-town are about 15K (EXCLUDING areas east of Summerlin and Parramore which in many cases are at least as close as Harbour Island is to downtown Tampa). Meanwhile, Orlando's downtown population grew 34% from 2000-2012 while downtown Tampa grew 14% from a smaller base.

 

But downtown Tampa MUST be better because the buildings are taller, right!?!

 

As for museums, Orlando's museum district is, admittedly, not downtown (Winter Park and Loch Haven have that privilege). Is that unusual? Nope. Manhattan's museums are in midtown, not downtown, as are Atlanta's, just to name two. Also, a word for the Orange County Regional History Center, which is a Smithsonian-affiliated institution (one of 180 across the country). The Orlando Public Library also runs circles around Tampa's (TBT has recently been opining on just how badly downtown Tampa needs a new library while ours recently used a multi-million dollar grant to launch into new technologies like 3D printing). Channelside Cinemas closed while our theatres at the Plaza have been doing OK - we won't talk about the parking garage *sigh* (if Channelside reopened theirs, I could not verify that). 

 

Mostly, however, as klstorey noted, there's a lot more life after 5pm in Orlando. Recently, the decision was made to do a farmer's market on Franklin St. in Tampa, but they could only get it going once a month due to lack of vendors and buyers. 

 

Tampa's mayor, Bob Buckhorn, has some great plans underway, and I'm sure they'll do well over there. However, Orlando is doing just fine also. I continue to wonder why so many continue to think Orlando is in any way losing out when all the numbers say otherwise? I'll be the first to acknowledge (and have frequently) a dearth of retail, but that's because it's just the last piece of the puzzle to complete what is otherwise a remarkable success story. Oh, I forgot, our buildings aren't tall enough - THAT's the problem, right? Calling Dr. Freud!

Edited by spenser1058
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Also disagree about Tampa being better (or even close) overall.

They do win on waterfront, as does probably 99 percent of other major cities, heck even Sanford and Kissimmee and Clermont do. We just are in a minority of settlements that didnt form around a major body of water.

Channelside isn't bad, last I saw weren't they struggling though? I know the Howl closed down there.

But the CBD is empty. We went out one Friday night there and it was dead. Nice tall buildings but zero life after 5. And it's not like Channelside is right there in the grid.

Also, their transit is now far behind ours and will only get further.

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It's too bad Cocoa/Merritt Island or Melbourne didn't grow into Central Florida's major city. What a great waterfront that would have been, not to mention the proximity to the beaches & Port Canaveral.

Had Disney just found/purchased land about 30 - 40 miles to the east.

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This is the first time I have ever heard anyone say downtown Tampa is better. Seriously. First time. What I usually hear is that it is dead after 5, there is no where to eat for lunch, there is no cool factor. 

 

Unless you include the other districts. Tampa has multiple areas that could be considered downtown and it hurts their CBD. But if you include Channelside, Hyde Park etc. as downtown, you have to include Sodo, Audubon Park, College Park and arguably Winter Park in ours. 

Edited by jack
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Tampa is miles ahead of downtown Orlando.

Orlando is full of bars and clubs , no reason to go down there.

Lake Eola is nice, but the swans and other animals make it filthy to try and enjoy anything dealing with food or picnicing.

Tampa has a nice waterfront and riverfront.

Tampa's musuems, channelside district alone blows downtown Orlando out of the water.

I Do like the Plaza in downtown Orlando though. More of these would help make downtown seem like it's only for the party crowd.

 

Channelside just went through bankruptcy and the hope is that Vinik will revive the area. It is considered a failure. 

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This is the first time I have ever heard anyone say downtown Tampa is better. Seriously. First time. What I usually hear is that it is dead after 5, there is now where to eat for lunch, there is no cool factor. 

 

Unless you include the other districts. Tampa has multiple areas that could be considered downtown and it hurts their CBD. But if you include Channelside, Hyde Park etc. as downtown, you have to include Sodo, Audubon Park, College Park and arguably Winter Park in ours. 

 

While I prefer the livability of downtown Orlando to downtown Tampa, I must admit that downtown Tampa feels much grander than Orlando. I think that's due to the fact that Tampa is an older city, one that established itself as one of the state's biggest and most important many, many years before Orlando emerged as more than just an orange grove town. It has a more significant banking and business presence (hence the taller office towers), larger government buildings, and bigger historic structures. It's also got an ideal waterfront setting.

 

But to me, that grand feeling goes away after a few minutes. After five, there's not much happening in downtown Tampa. And the more residential neighborhoods aren't really connected to the CBD.   

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I am in disbelief as well. I know people from Tampa that are jealous of our downtown and wish they were doing more! They may have a nicer skyline and more museums, but our downtown is so much more walkable and livable it isn't even comparable. They can't even get a grocery store to locate downtown. They have tried to lure Publix many times and failed. How is it urban living if you have to get in your car to get groceries? They have far more empty lots and surface parking than we do in our core. Try walking from Channelside to those museums...ugly. From Thornton Park to the Amway Center there is a solid walkable line of restaurants (and some pretty good ones now), bars, a beautiful park in Lake Eola, office buildings, the library, history center, DPAC, hotels, Amway Center. Soon we will extend that further with a soccer stadium and UCF campus. The way I see it we have surpassed them and are not looking back. Yes, like everyone says we need retail, but downtown Tampa is not a haven for retail either by any stretch. If you want to compare downtowns, St. Pete is one we should be looking at and comparing ourselves against. They are doing some things right.

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I am in disbelief as well. I know people from Tampa that are jealous of our downtown and wish they were doing more! They may have a nicer skyline and more museums, but our downtown is so much more walkable and livable it isn't even comparable. They can't even get a grocery store to locate downtown. They have tried to lure Publix many times and failed. How is it urban living if you have to get in your car to get groceries? They have far more empty lots and surface parking than we do in our core. Try walking from Channelside to those museums...ugly. From Thornton Park to the Amway Center there is a solid walkable line of restaurants (and some pretty good ones now), bars, a beautiful park in Lake Eola, office buildings, the library, history center, DPAC, hotels, Amway Center. Soon we will extend that further with a soccer stadium and UCF campus. The way I see it we have surpassed them and are not looking back. Yes, like everyone says we need retail, but downtown Tampa is not a haven for retail either by any stretch. If you want to compare downtowns, St. Pete is one we should be looking at and comparing ourselves against. They are doing some things right.

 

I've never been a big fan of the neighborhoods surrounding the Tampa CBD. Some are industrial, some are seriously sketchy, and none seem particularly walkable.

 

In Orlando, on the east side of I-4, the downtown neighborhoods are great places to be. Beyond Thornton Park, you have Colonial Town, Delaney Park, SoDo, Audobon Park, College Park, etc.

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While I prefer the livability of downtown Orlando to downtown Tampa, I must admit that downtown Tampa feels much grander than Orlando. I think that's due to the fact that Tampa is an older city, one that established itself as one of the state's biggest and most important many, many years before Orlando emerged as more than just an orange grove town. It has a more significant banking and business presence (hence the taller office towers), larger government buildings, and bigger historic structures. It's also got an ideal waterfront setting.

 

But to me, that grand feeling goes away after a few minutes. After five, there's not much happening in downtown Tampa. And the more residential neighborhoods aren't really connected to the CBD.   

Exactly.  Downtown Tampa has square blocks and wide rights-of-way.  Orlando has long rectangles and tiny r/w downtown.  Other than areas near the expressway, Tampa has not vacated and shut down sections of roadways like Orlando has.  Almost all of their historic blocks have been torn down but they still have several times as many as we do.  Currently, their livability is nowhere near as good as Orlando but I think they have the physical environment in place to really pull ahead eventually if the psyche ever changes over there.

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On an almost unrelated notes, USF is moving its medical college to downtown Tampa with a 157 million complex include a 12 stories building with optional additional shell floors for future expansion.

 

Downtown Tampa is definitely one step ahead of us...with the Encore project, retails, all the new museums, Ybor and possiblly future Ray stadium.

 

Next for downtown Orlando, get some world class museums....

Clearly a downtown Orlando forum is not the place for a fair fight when comparing to downtown Tampa (that said, Mrs U_E and I looked deeply into both areas when moving to FL and overwhelmingly chose Orlando for most of the reasons previsouly mentioned).  My view is that Tampa has definitive plans to move a med school with a few hundred people downtown, and pipe dreams (look at the lease the Rays have with St Pete) about a stadium.  Orlando has non-definitive plans to move thousands of UCF students downtown and definitive plans for an MLS stadium.

 

Personally, I'd be all for the Rays to move to Tampa.  The extra time it takes to get to their current stadium essentially stops us from going to games, and the Rays would do well to attract from the rest of the central FL market.  I never understood why they didn't set up shop in Orlando for Spring Training to build a fan base here, since we are technically a large part of thier TV market. 

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I spend a lot of time in Tampa, and have to agree that the downtown has nothing on DT Orlando. Even after a Lightning game on a Saturday night once all the cars leave the city is empty. The streets are massive and not very walkable, with empty lots everywhere.

 

Outside of downtown there's always a good amount of activity a short distance away in Ybor, and with the trolly connection it makes it easily accessible to those who live in downtown or channelside. The SOHO district is nice, but is pretty far from the downtown core.

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Orlando definitely excels over Tampa in terms of beautiful residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

Tampa is has that typically "gritty" feel that a lot of large Southern cities are known for. Lot of concrete & few trees. Not very inviting to walk through at all.

Orlando has a more park-like feel to it, with all our shady, tree-lined brick streets.

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Orlando vs Tampa:  apples and oranges:

 

Tampa has the Port and the waterways and UT right there, with Ibor a little ways out, and Harbor Island.  Fla Aquarium, their PAC, St Pete Times Forum, Tampa Convention Center, and downtown hotels, etc.

 

Orlando has Lake Eola, Lake Ivanhoe, Lake Lucerne bookending the CBD, with the FH South complex (along with the museums) to the north with the Ivanhoe neighborhood inbetween, and ORHS to the south with residential inbetween, Amway Center, some hotels (more than people realize), but no convention center. 

 

Tampa's downtown at street level seems larger.  I think partly b/c they use different traffic signal apparatus.  Also, their grid is smaller city blocks so there are twice as many traffic signals. Orlando's grid is made up of larger square blocks for whatever reason.

 

Orlando's CBD is set up in a way where it naturally feels like the same stretch of quadrant begins at Gateway Center to the north and ends at 408 to the south.  That's like 2 miles.  Tampa is more compact downtown; but similar in terms of physical barriers like bridges, waterways, etc.

 

But, Orlando has so many events downtown that are hosted at Lake Eola and throughout downtown.  Just this past Saturday there was a big multi-venue event here.

 

The only way for Orlando to have a large convention-class hotel downtown is to have convention space- the proposed Amway complex can be that project.

 

Tampa has the Streetcar.  Orlando has Lymmo and Sunrail.

Tampa has Tampa General near downtown.  Orlando has FH South and ORHS

Tampa has a general aviation airport near downtown.  Orlando has Orlando Exec.

Tampa has the Crosstown.  Orlando has 408

 

Orlando does have a big bar scene.  But, what is overlooked with this comment is that every time a bar closes for whatever reason, there's another one lined up to take its place.  Non-bar scene upper-tier venues:  Ember, Kasa, Ceviche, Rusty Spoon, The Grand Bohemian bar and restaurant, Aloft Hotel bar, a place or two on East Central, etc.  Orlando has both- college bars and upper end day and night venues.

 

Orlando:  Publix.

 

Personally I think the area around the Tampa Courthouse is scummy.  Yet, in Orlando, there are two new apartment communities either open or u/c literally across the street from the Orange Co Cthse, and, bona fide neighborhoods across the street as well.  It's a completely different dynamic.

 

Orlando also has a heavy assortment of churches and church properties downtown.  I am not familiar with that element in downtown Tampa.

 

Anyway, the geography is both a catalyst and an inhibitor for both cities to development patterns.

 

USF's medical building in downtown Tampa- reminds me of new construction at Jackson Memorial in Miami.  I wish some of the Medical City developments were instead in downtown Orlando, but, both FH and ORHS are currently expanding their respective centers in and around downtown Orlando.

Edited by jrs2
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I live in downtown And traveled to downtown Tampa this past summer to take the bar. We stayed right downtown and were hard pressed to find a place to eat after six o'clock. Not to mention the lack of bars and nightlife in the area. We also stood at an intersection by the convention center and watched as cars flew by us going at least 40-50MPH. Very unpedestrian friendly.

While the waterfront is really nice, we were virtually the only ones out there other than an occasional person on a bike. You'd never find that at lake eola any day of the week.

While it's nice that tampa's museums are right downtown, the only thing that Tampa has downtown that I really wish Orlando had was the convention center. I can only imagine how vibrant downtown Orlando would be if we had that large scale meeting space in the heart of the city. Hopefully, with the addition of all the new hotels and meeting space downtown, we can attract some of the smaller conferences to head downtown.

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When I talking about Tampa at the very beginning of this thread, I was pointing to the museums they have. Their city is investing in different museums and creating river walk. Orlando still have that Museum of arts without any new museums on the horizon.

They know that their main entertainment district is at Ybor so there is a streetcar system connecting downtown to Ybor. Then they figured out that they need to further connect the two places so they built Encore Tampa. They already have performing art space. We have our phase 1 performing space.  It just seems like Tampa has a plan and they execute it. This is not a knock on Orlando by any means.

 

I used to dislike downtown Tampa with a passion and that's one of the reason lead to me leaving the other site. But then Tampa has been slowly winning over me. Everytime I went over there, something surprise me. Last trip was about the progress of Encore, and then the trip before that the half completed river walk is actually pleasant....

 

Orlando has the bar scences which I don't really get involved cuz it is not my scene, I am more into wine and dine cuz I am old. I just hope that Orlando will have more adult restaurants coming on-board soon.

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I think it is fair to say that Tampa is catching up. When I speak to reps from Tampa, they point to all the new development that they missed out on in the mid 2000's compared to Orlando. 

 

I was at a forum some years back that focused on Tampa. The gist was downtown Orlando did a lot more and the residents of tampa then piled on City of Tampa guy. His response was that their CRA did not have any money because all of it went towards the convention center. Once that was paid off, they could invest in other important things. Orlando is in a similar situation now with DPAC. But our CRA for a long time invested in making downtown better.

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If you're all about the physical buildings (height, museums, etc.) Tampa wins.  But if you're all about people, vibrancy, excitement (count me in that group), Orlando wins hands down.  And what's happening WRT CBD residential: u/c and proposed; venues: Magic Entertainment, Orlando City, ACE etc.; and education (UCF/Valencia/FAMU); that gap between the cities is expanding exponentially.

 

u/c - Rida Cresent, Lexington, Artisan 420, Brownstones (and soon to be Sevens)

proposed - City Tower, University Club, Lucern Prominade, Tribune blocks.  (you can even count The Yard, The Princeton although outside the cbd).

 

Then there's commuter rail ... how's that going Tampa?  High Speed Rail ... How's that going?  

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Aside from building heights, we have to look at the breadth of projects.

 

Tampa might be catching up- but to whom?  Orlando is still developing projects downtown...and they keep coming.

 

If I was to analyze this thing, I would simply state that Orlando is not in a competition with Tampa, rather, it's in a competition with itself, in that, it is frantically trying to build up empty lots that should've been filled years ago so that it can attain a critical mass so that it works better as a city center.  Same with Tampa.

 

We need more people downtown.  Even if the number of residential units outpaces new office by a factor of 4 to 1, I don't care.  Just keep 'em coming.

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Greenlight Pinellas failed...just like the Hillborough transit push in 2010.

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