Or­lando Mayor Buddy Dyer

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeff Weiner Staff Writer

gives the an­nual “State of Downtown,” but throws out the usual speech for­mat and in­stead hosts “The DTO Show,” quizzing his staff about the fu­ture of Or­lando.

Look out, Jimmy Fal­lon. Or­lando Mayor Buddy Dyer tested his late-night-TV chops Wednesday dur­ing the city’s an­nual “State of Downtown” event.

In­stead of the usual speech, Dyer hosted “The DTO Show,” quizzing his staff about the fu­ture of Or­lando’s ur­ban core.

Dyer — who quipped that he was qual­i­fied to host his own late-night show, hav­ing once ap­peared on Fal­lon’s — cracked jokes, flung cue cards and ban­tered with the house band at Ace Cafe Or­lando.

By Dyer’s own de­scrip­tion, it was as cheesy as Velveeta.

Dur­ing the event, city of­fi­cials un­veiled an “in­ter­ac­tive pocket park” at Or­ange Av­enue and Robinson Street and gave an up­date on a planned sprawl­ing ur­ban park be­neath In­ter­state 4, dubbed the Un­der-I.

Thomas Chat­mon, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Downtown Devel­op­ment Board, said the city is in “ad­vanced dis­cus­sions” with the Or­lando Magic about get­ting the team’s en­ter­tain­ment com­plex off the ground, in­clud­ing a new ho­tel and con­ven­tion cen­ter.

“Hav­ing a con­ven­tion ho­tel and con­ven­tion­eers here, thou­sands of them ev­ery year, will put peo­ple on the streets be­tween 6 and 11 p.m., [which] helps our restau­rants and other en­ter­tain­ment venues, so I’m re­ally ex­cited about that,” he said.

Dyer’s staff also touted Cre­ative Village, as well as soon-to-break-ground af­ford­able hous­ing projects in Par­ramore. Ur­ban plan­ner Doug Met­zger pre­dicted the longstrug­gling west Or­lando com­mu­nity has “fi­nally hit the tip­ping point.”

“We’ve got an in­flux of the ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, new hous­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. I’m see­ing the smaller busi­nesses that are com­ing in and re­de­vel­op­ing their prop­er­ties,” he said. “I re­ally think where we’re at now is the be­gin­ning of the Par­ramore re­nais­sance.”

Met­zger also un­veiled up­dated de­signs for the Un­der-I, which the city hopes to start build­ing once the I-4 Ul­ti­mate pro­ject wraps up in 2021. The de­signs show a run­ning track, pic­nic ta­bles, bas­ket­ball courts, a soc­cer pitch and a splash pad, among other fea­tures.

Or­lando’s re­cently hired night man­ager, Do­minique Greco Ryan, pre­dicted the in­flux of stu­dents at Univer­sity of Cen­tral Florida’s new downtown cam­pus would cre­ate de­mand for ev­ery­thing from fast-ca­sual din­ing to gyms and hookah bars.

“I think it’s up to us as a com­mu­nity and as City Hall to pre­pare for them to live, work and play, and just stay downtown,” Greco Ryan said. “We want to keep them downtown.”

After bor­row­ing a cha­rades-like game from Ellen DeGeneres ear­lier in the show, Dyer closed the event by rip­ping off Fal­lon’s “Thank You Notes” seg­ment to crack jokes about the Magic, New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie and Dyer’s own high school year­book photo. He even took a shot at downtown traf­fic jams.

“Thank you, I-4 con­struc­tion. We love our Or­lando sky­line, and you give us an ex­tended look at it ev­ery day,” he said.

Dyer cracked jokes about the Magic, New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie and Dyer’s own high school year­book photo.

JOE BURBANK/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Or­lando Mayor Buddy Dyer ac­knowl­edges the au­di­ence in the bal­cony of Ace Cafe Or­lando on Wednesday while tap­ing “The DTO Show,” his pre­sen­ta­tion of the an­nual “State of Downtown” ad­dress, us­ing the for­mat of a late-night-TV talk show.

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