Dyer sees Disney-sized importance in campus
Mayor touts Creative Village opening in his ‘state of downtown’ speech
In his annual “state of downtown” speech, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer on Thursday compared the upcoming opening of the UCF and Valencia College campus downtown to the opening of Walt Disney World nearly five decades ago.
The comparison is often made for large projects in Central Florida, but Dyer used his annual speech — also a fundraiser for the Downtown Orlando Partnership — to argue that this time it’s not an exaggeration.
“In the case of the Creative Village…it’s that big of a deal,” Dyer said to a crowd of several hundred of business and nonprofit leaders, as well as elected officials.
The rising campus has been under construction since last year and is expected to bring about 8,000 students to downtown beginning in August.
It’s a joint venture with courses and programs from both UCF and Valencia College, including undergraduate and graduate degree programs in communications, health services administration, legal studies and urban and regional planning.
But with the Creative Village’s construction near Livingston and Amelia streets, Dyer said the campus will be a beacon for children and residents in Parramore, Orlando’s poorest neighborhood.
“From its curriculum to the way it’s tied into Parramore, this is an educational facility designed to open doors and eliminate barriers to opportunity for everyone,” Dyer said.
He said the campus is designed both for students and residents who want new opportunities and skills training for in-demand jobs. It also will bring new energy downtown, as well as customers to local businesses in Parramore and downtown, Dyer said.
The mayor also announced a new campaign that allows visitors and residents to text “Give Smart” to 85511 to donate to nonprofits that support the region’s housing-first initiative. Officials hope giving money there, as opposed to panhandlers, will “create real, lasting change in the lives of our homeless neighbors.”
During the speech, Dyer took a break to show a video