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prahaboheme

What has happened to this forum?

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Is anyone else wondering what has happened to the vibrancy of this forum aside from me?

As someone who grew up in Orlando but is now living out of town (in Boston), I frequent this website for the consistent and reliable updates regarding all things Orlando construction urban-wise. Lately it seems all have fallen off into the abyss. I miss the photo updates and inside scoop on whats stirring behind the scenes.

Is this because construction has slowed down? The economy? Plain out disinterest? I am curious to know what forumers here think is the issue because I absolutely believe that these types of websites are a microcosm of the larger community. Is Orlando, in general, becoming lame? in a lull?

There are still plenty of significant developments currently under construction (the arena, the medical city, attractions hotels and resorts) and even more planned (Florida Hospital village, SunRail and HSR, DPAC, etc). Orlando, to me, is at a turning point. It is growing up. No longer are they feeding the interests of just the tourist corridor but have invested in long term growth in other sectors. One must give credit where it is due and while there have been shortcomings, I think Orlando is on the right path (aside from crime which seems to be at an all time high).

There was a time when this forum was also receiving significant media attention (from the Orlando Sentinel, WFTV, etc) due to it's inside scoop.

What happened!!?

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I think a lot of it is due to the slowdown of the economy. Three or four years ago it seemed a new building was announced every month and gave us something to rally around. Lately there have been a series of disappointments ie., the DPAC delay, the side track of SunRail, the financial issues with 55West have all lead to demotivating us. I think positive news on any of this could spark that motivation again. The only big news of 2009 so far has been the movie theatre.

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lack of new development downtown.

it's a crap economy. Before everything crashed downtown was in the midst of one of it's biggest booms since the 80s. So of course you're going to have less activity during one of the worst times compared to one of the best times.

It's cyclical, hopefully things will pick up again & we'll actually have things to look forward to soon.

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nothing really going on downtown... all talks and nothing get done.......

btw...come out with pride this sunday

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I gotta agree with what everybody is saying in this thread and have been wondering the same things, prahaboheme. I've gone from a pretty frequent poster who was enthusiastic about digging for new development news to more of a lurker who still checks the forum daily but is often disappointed by the lack of activity on it. There are several factors to blame for my regression, including, but not limited to:

Personal

- I moved away from Orlando when I went off to college in 2000 so with each passing year, I feel further removed from the city. My parents still live in town so I'm there often (including right now) but I'm still a little less interested in what's going on there than I was before.

- Recently I spent some time living in LA, Las Vegas, and Miami (~3 years) and compared to Orlando, those cities felt so much more progressive in terms of urban development. It made me feel kinda silly for being so interested in a handful of mediocre projects that wouldn't even get a second look from me if they were being constructed in one of those other cities. Take 55 West, for instance. It's one of Orlando's tallest buildings, yet I happen to think it's an eyesore, it's been plagued by problems for years, it's one of the biggest stories on this forum, and if it were located on Brickell Ave., it would go unnoticed by most.

- I've been really jaded by the local politics here. Growing up in Orlando, I've been hearing about light rail, commuter rail, high-speed rail, mag-levs, monorails, new airport terminals, I-4 expansion, new arenas, "Orlando's new tallest," etc. for almost 20 years and hardly any of those projects have come to fruition, mostly thanks to incompetent leadership. Okay, we're getting a new arena now and they added a lane to I-4 through the center of town but that's pretty much it as far as major public works within the city limits! There's only so many times I can go through the process of: hear about awesome new proposal -> read tons of articles about it -> read the design study -> see polls showing that citizens want it -> watch it go to vote -> see it get shot down -> wait a few years -> watch it come to life again -> have the proposal go through a redesign -> read more articles about it -> have another debate about whether it should be built and how -> see it finally get approved -> learn about some BS reason why it can't be built now -> realize it's not going to happen for a while. I mean seriously, how many times have we all gone through that here? At least those other cities have been getting things done recently.

- As I get older, it's getting harder for me to get excited about some of these big, long-term projects. I'm just not as interested in something that *might* be completed in 5-10 years.

Economic

- As others have mentioned, there's just not much to talk about. Yeah, we have some hospitals under construction and that's nice and all but when I read something about the Burnham Institue or UCF med school, rather than be happy for that development, I'm more put off by the fact that they're being constructed way out in BFE and are promoting sprawl.

Forum

- Back in the day when I used to be a lot more active on the forum, I tried to adhere to a principle of posting factual information, pictures, links to articles, etc. rather than just adding my opinion (i.e. "I like this...I don't like that"). When there were more projects in the pipeline and under construction, there was a lot more for me to investigate and reference. I would photoshop some renderings, add to the Google Earth model, map out new downtown developments, and copying snippets of newspaper articles. Well, with development coming to a screeching halt, I pretty much stopped doing all of that except for posting relevant newspaper articles. But then Urban Planet's moderator gestapo started cracking down on the posting of articles and I got suspended. So instead I'd try to post a headline + a paragraph from the article and a link to the outside source. Then I got suspended again. Then I tried posting just the article headline and a link to the article and guess what...I got suspended and was given a warning that I'd be banned after the next infraction. Now that we have to paraphrase an article in order to talk about it, I'm not interested in spending the time to do that so I pretty much don't do it all. I was really disappointed by the rule change because I think that the posting of articles helped to spark discussion on the forum. Now we're not seeing it as much.

- Some of the forum's most insightful and active contributors have either disappeared or taken up greatly reduced roles. I don't know what their stories are but the fact is that we've lost some good people and other people haven't filled in those voids.

That's about it for me. I'm sure others have similar reasons for falling off.

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Bic,

Thank you for the honest response. My sentiments echo yours exactly. As someone who grew up in Orlando and moved away for college, I've long been interested in the growth and development of a more urban Orlando even if it wasn't always that exciting. I've now lived in Boston for 9 years and have quite a different perspective on things. I have much less tolerance for the bickering between county and city. This setup has single handedly crippled the City of Orlando.

I, too, am incredibly discouraged that Orlando continues to sprawl out of control. While Burnham is impressive, it's paving the way to further destroy fragile wetlands. I am not in support of this -- but when were the citizens really involved in city planning in Orlando? When has the region had an honest conversation about sprawl? I am shocked and appalled that the major priorities in this town continue to be the expansion of highways (i.e. paving through Wekiva Springs). It is truly exhausting to think about.

Additionally, where other subforums out there have managed to pick up the slack for the lull in development by extending it's reach to other topics, the Orlando subforum on this site suffers when there isn't a shiny new proposal. If current residents of this City cannot pick up and contribute, I don't really see the point in doing it from 1400 miles away much longer. I'll continue to check in daily and comment in hopes that the forum (and the city) will mature but I feel a bit defeated by the whole thing. I do believe it is a city with a lot of potential and hope that those true visionaries can get through the muck to make a few things happen for the betterment of all, but I'm not as optimistic as I once was.

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Ditto Praha and Bic.

Similar to both of you, I grew up in Orlando moved to Chicago for college in the 90's and have been between New York and San Francisco since 2000. I really thought that Orlando was in the verge of becoming something new, eclectic and representative of the diverse populous from which I've come. There are a ton of Orlando kids that graduated from Dr. Phillips in New York and we catch up with each other from time to time, but we've all left because our careers or ambitions out grew Central Florida. It's so infuriating to see the municipal and state level decisions being made down there and quite frankly has been a total turn off. Just read the Sentinel Reader Responses whenever some new transit/public project is announced.

Anyway, being someone that works in the commercial real estate industry it's been an invaluable source to know what kind of buzz is going on down there and it's helped me on more than one occasion when putting together market reports and I have always attempted to add an industry perspective to what is often thinly veiled civic boosterism. I am, hopeful for the future, but I definitely have a decreasing interest in the goings on of Orlando.

Daily Beast Ranks Orlando #43 In Metro IQ Survey

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There are a ton of Orlando kids that graduated from Dr. Phillips in New York and we catch up with each other from time to time, but we've all left because our careers or ambitions out grew Central Florida. It's so infuriating to see the municipal and state level decisions being made down there and quite frankly has been a total turn off.

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One of things I find interesting about the responses above - they all echo how people "outgrow" Orlando, and how unprogressive it is. But I also noted in a few cases about how posters on the Orlando forum only really get interested in project statistics, and not in the discussions about how to grow.

This is really a chicken or the egg situation here, but the lack of citizen involvement in planning both causes, and is fueled by, a lack of interest in Orlando as an area. And as an outsider who spends quite a bit of time in Orlando, I think what is most apparent is that no one really truly has a concept of what Orlando really is spacewise, and no one has anything to identify with.

Perhaps what will bring back interest in the forum, and interest in Orlando itself, is to start discussions on what is Orlando and what it is not, and what it could and should be.

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I think what is most apparent is that no one really truly has a concept of what Orlando really is spacewise, and no one has anything to identify with.

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I do find it interesting that the only responses to this topic thus far are from those who have moved away from Orlando. Had I dropped this thread in virtually any other city forum I would have received at least 10 responses about how great that city is and how wrong and shortsighted my impressions are. The simple fact that this isn't happening only validates the points above even further.

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Ditto on everthing above. Slow times now. Things will pick up. We have had our fair share of development. We now need to focus on filling those buildings. Until then, there are a couple of items that may work out to be exciting.

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I dont understand why a 2 millions people city cannot fill up a couple hundredrs units of condo donwtown. It it just really frustrating to see all those building go empty and forclosed.

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I do find it interesting that the only responses to this topic thus far are from those who have moved away from Orlando. Had I dropped this thread in virtually any other city forum I would have received at least 10 responses about how great that city is and how wrong and shortsighted my impressions are. The simple fact that this isn't happening only validates the points above even further.

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I firmly agree with spenser. I can see how so many people outgrow orlando... it's a midsized city, and anyone with big dreams would be more apt to make a living in one of the major cities out there (such as NYC, Chicago or Boston was mentioned ITT).

You have to take orlando for what it is, and from my experience with other midsized cities, it's a very diverse and vibrant area. It has it's growing pains for sure, and a complete lack of culture and out of control sprawl. But what it also has is a great foundation for a downtown core, a slew of entertainment, and a level of overall cleanliness that would make most other cities jealous. I currently live downtown, but I work out of state (and out of country at times).

I do get down on orlando after spending a few weeks to a month there, but after I leave to go overseas or to another city, I always feel welcomed back. Downtown really does have a sense of place coming together (for me being a young person). It's clean (I still can't get over how clean orlando is for a US city compared to other places I go), and has a vibrant nightlife on par with many cities larger than it.

You folks need to take orlando for what it is. It's going to get to where it needs to be eventually.

*I will say this, orlando DESPERATELY lacks a population of sophisticated young professionals. I get so fed up with going out and meeting people in their late 20's early 30's who are still working in restaurants/bars and have no ambition in life. If there was one thing I could change about orlando right now, it would be this.

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just as an addition... I was recently with a couple exchange students from shanghai, and they were telling me how lucky I am to live in such a "beautiful city." I almost laughed & thought in my head "what are u smoking"? I mean these kids are from the biggest city in the world. They also mentioned how "slow" things are, but that's to be expected coming from somewhere like Shanghai.

I don't want to come off as a booster though. In fact the point I made about the lack of young professionals in orlando is enough to make me want to move out.

But if you can handle orlando's slower pace and lack of young professionals, orlando can be a great place to live. And it has SO much potential, all of you know it... that's what keeps us coming back to this place. It's easy to knock a place when it's going through hardships.

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Why does everyone compare Orlando to Boston and Chicago? Thats apples to oranges. If you want to compare Orlando, compare it to Providence, RI, or Colorado Springs, or Bellevue, WA. And that is perhaps my point. Orlando is just a small urban area all under one name. No, the big city downtowns don't have the after hours life downtown does. But those big cities do have suburbs that DO. Orlando really competes against other near-city suburbs. It's a city without a city center.

That is OK for Downtown, but the rest of the city suffers. it IS sprawl because no one wants to give it a core. Crime is big because everyone is anonymous. Everyone moves away because they just don't fell at home.

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Why does everyone compare Orlando to Boston and Chicago? Thats apples to oranges. If you want to compare Orlando, compare it to Providence, RI, or Colorado Springs, or Bellevue, WA. And that is perhaps my point. Orlando is just a small urban area all under one name. No, the big city downtowns don't have the after hours life downtown does. But those big cities do have suburbs that DO. Orlando really competes against other near-city suburbs. It's a city without a city center.

That is OK for Downtown, but the rest of the city suffers. it IS sprawl because no one wants to give it a core. Crime is big because everyone is anonymous. Everyone moves away because they just don't fell at home.

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good post spenser. I still disagree with your comment on young professionals. As being one myself, I can attest that they are just not here for the most part. Of course we have young lawyers, accountants & other typical white collar types. But the culture in this city is not professional when you look at the majority of the young population. I know because I live in the midst of it. I even have a good friend from boston who loves orlando, but can't get over the lack of "quality" people.

It's not a knock on the people, just the lax culture in the area where downtown has the vibe of an overgrown college town. The younger guys never really grew up, and the ones that did usually move away.

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The lack of development has hurt, of course...I don't check or post as often. Even in good times a lot of downtown projects were smoke and mirrors and nothing ever became of them, and I can't support any further sprawl.

I don't think our residents or politicans can get it together for HSR or commuter rail, and that will really hurt us in the future. I read 'my word' in the Sentinel every day, and every other day lately it's a diatribe against Hometown Democracy or supporting the 'growth machine' Homebuilders key to economy. I doubt the people or the politicans will do the right thing here. They are living in fantasy land.

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Why does everyone compare Orlando to Boston and Chicago? Thats apples to oranges. If you want to compare Orlando, compare it to Providence, RI, or Colorado Springs, or Bellevue, WA. And that is perhaps my point. Orlando is just a small urban area all under one name. No, the big city downtowns don't have the after hours life downtown does. But those big cities do have suburbs that DO. Orlando really competes against other near-city suburbs. It's a city without a city center.

That is OK for Downtown, but the rest of the city suffers. it IS sprawl because no one wants to give it a core. Crime is big because everyone is anonymous. Everyone moves away because they just don't fell at home.

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I've chosen to remain quiet rather than sound like "a worn out recording of a favorite song" (with apologies to Bertie Higgins). What I usually discover in such discussions, however, is they come from folks (a) out in the 'burbs and (b) who try to compare Orlando with cities that were primary hubs in their respective states for decades if not centuries when virtually all of our growth is much more recent

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Florida Trend has a community report on the region this month. In addition to some great stats about the area, the "Why I live here" section gives some insight about professional movers and shakers and their attraction to what Bob Morris once called "this sandy spit of land we call home:"

http://www.floridatrend.com/article.asp?aID=51877#link2

I have received comments from folks that suggest I'm biased as a native. Guilty as charged, I suppose, although in my case I left and came back because I was fascinated by everything that seemed to be going on. The thing I like best about Orlando is that it's still a work in progress, at least more so than older cities where it seemed harder to have an impact on making changes, at least for me. I guess the downside is that more established cities will have amenities we're still working on, so it's all about the tradeoffs.

Anyway, the fact these are folks who chose Orlando to develop their careers was sort of interesting.

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I am not sure I agree or see the point however I will say that the only basis for comparison is to step outside a situation and to take a bird's eye view. I do not consider myself an outsider to Orlando and I see a lot of problems here. I live in Boston now and see a lot of problems here too. It is not all apples to oranges like people claim. There is sound urban development and there is well, everything else. You know it when you see it, right?

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Didn't someone say that about porn? A supreme court justice...yet even that is up to 'community standards'. And as in planning, sometimes the community standards don't make much sense.

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