Tale of the Tape:

Orlando City Population 2012: 249,562 (City); 2,223,674 (Metro 2012) - (incorporated in 1875)

Jacksonville City Population 2012: 836,507 (City); 1,377,850 (Metro 2012) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Orlando (52,367)

City Land Area

Orlando: 102.4 square miles Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2010-2012)

Orlando: +4.18% Jacksonville: +2.40%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Orlando: 1,510,516 (ranked 32 nationwide) Jacksonville: 1,065,219 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Orlando: 2,527.3 people per square mile Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2010 to 2012

Orlando: +11,262 Jacksonville: +14,723

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Orlando: Orange County Convention Center (1983) - 2,100,000 square feet Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to or across the street from Convention Center:

Orlando: Hyatt Regency Orlando Convention Center - 1,641 rooms, Rosen Centre Hotel - 1,334 rooms Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building/Structure:

Orlando: SunTrust Center - 441 feet Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies 2013 (City limits only):

Orlando: Darden Restaurants (328) Jacksonville: CSX (231), Fidelity National Financial (353), Fidelity National Information Services (434)

Urban infill obstacles:

Orlando: The need to balance gentrification with the true revitalization of Parramore. Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife District:

Orlando: Downtown Historic District Jacksonville: The Elbow, The Jacksonville Landing

Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Orlando: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com Jacksonville: 78 out of 100, according to walkscore.com


Completed in 2010, the $380 million, 18,500 seat Amway Center is home to the NBA’s Orlando Magic.


The Amway Center includes a built in digital billboard to advertise events to passing Interstate 4 drivers.


The Gentleman Jack Terrace is a roof top bar in the Amway Center with a commanding view of downtown Orlando’s skyline.


Manicured streetscaping along Division Avenue. The building on the right is the headquarters of HD Supply. HD Supply is one of the largest, most diversified industrial distributors in North America.


The George C. Young U.S. Courthouse & Federal Building.


Green space at the George C. Young U.S. Courthouse & Federal Building.


Creative Village is one of downtown Orlando’s most ambitious projects. When complete, the former site of the Amway Arena will be converted into a 68-acre mixed-use, transit oriented, urban infill neighborhood anchored by higher education institutions, high-tech, digital media and creative companies.


Currently, the University of Central Florida’s Center for Emerging Media is located in Creative Village.

The UCF Center for Emerging Media is housed in a building which started life as the Orlando Expo Centre. Over the years, the Expo Centre hosted conventions, exhibits, trade shows, meetings and banquets in its close-to-everything downtown location. It also served as the centerpiece of the Orlando Centroplex, which included the original Amway Arena, home to NBA’s Orlando Magic. As the convention business moved south to the newer and much larger Orlando Convention Center on International Drive, the Expo was ripe for a new mission. In 2004, video game producer Electronic Arts (EA) came to UCF with a unique challenge. It needed to hire hundreds of first-rate video game programmers, artists and video-game producers to keep pace with the growing demands of the video game industry. Other video game studios and companies around the country were experiencing similar shortages. Could UCF help? In April 2004, EA, the Economic Development Commission and other industrial partners helped UCF secure funding from the State of Florida to develop a graduate-level video game design program and FIEA (aka the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy) was born. In October 2004, the City of Orlando formed a partnership with the university to provide a home for FIEA in the former Orlando Expo Centre and in August of 2005, the school opened its doors. Soon after, a variety of production-oriented state university programs began migrating to UCF’s thriving new downtown showplace. Joining FIEA at the Center for Emerging Media were Flying Horse Editions; Citylab Orlando (from the University of Florida) and a variety of film, art and digital media programs from what would soon become the UCF School of Visual Art and Design. CEM also hosts Gallery 500, the EA Innovation Lab and Studio 500, a professional facility offering stages for film, video and motion capture projects. With it’s rapid growth and popularity, the Center for Emerging Media is poised to serve as the educational centerpiece of Orlando’s new Creative Village, which will build upon the success of Orlando’s digital media industry by transforming the original Amway Arena site (now leveled) into a 68-acre mixed-use, transit oriented, urban infill neighborhood in the heart of downtown Orlando. When complete, this high quality, sustainable neighborhood development will support a diverse and dynamic mix of uses including up to 1,200,000 square feet of office/creative space, 500,000 square feet of higher education space, 25,000 square feet of K-12 education space, 1,500 residential units, 150,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and 225 hotel rooms.



Creative Village is located one block from LYNX Central Station. Investments in mass transit are a major component of Orlando’s plans to transform their downtown into a multimodal friendly atmosphere. Already served by downtown Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, construction is underway to expand BRT and add commuter rail.


A LYNX LYMMO (BRT) bus approaches LYNX Central Station. Rail platforms for the Sunrail commuter rail system can be seen under construction in the background. When complete in May 2014, the 31-mile rail line will connect Orlando with Seminole and Volusia Counties, spurring infill Transit Oriented Development (TOD) throughout the region. A second phase, which will extend the commuter rail line to 61 miles, will open in 2015, tying Orlando with Osceola County.

The LYNX LYMMO is intended to accomplish what the Skyway Express does for downtown Jacksonville. This BRT system operates as a free three-mile loop downtown circulator with several stops in the core. Plans are underway to add two additional LYMMO routes in downtown. The Downtown East/West route will connect downtown with adjacent neighborhoods, Thornton Park and Parramore. A second Parramore route will tie the neighborhood with Creative Village, downtown, LYNX Central Station and Sunrail.


The LYNX LYMMO system includes dedicated lanes for BRT buses. Unlike Jacksonville’s proposed BRT system, regular city buses do not utilize this infrastructure.


The LYNX LYMMO BRT corridor on Orange Avenue.


The Orange County Regional History Center is located in the heart of downtown Orlando, near the intersection of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard.


Looking down East Pine Street. While downtown Orlando’s skyline appears to be modern, the core is actually a historic district. Orlando’s historic core contains the lion’s share of downtown’s restaurants and bars.


The Metcalf Building at 100 South Orange Avenue was dedicated in 1924.


This Art Deco building was built in 1936 for the S.H. Kress & Company store.


Gitto’s on South Orange Avenue serves pizza 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Orange Avenue is downtown Orlando’s historic major commercial spine. The base of the historic 11-story Angebilt Hotel can be seen on the left. When it opened in 1923, it was Orlando’s tallest building.


The intersection of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard. The building with the arched windows was completed in 1924 as a 10-story structure for the State Bank of Orlando & Trust Company. The 5-story structure in the background opened in 1914 as the Yowell-Duckworth Department Story. For many years, it was occupied by Ivey’s Department Store.


This train station on Church Street was originally built by the South Florida Railroad in 1889. The South Florida Railroad was bought out the Plant System in 1893, which in turn was taken over by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1902. In 1926 passenger operations were transferred to Orlando Health/Amtrak station. In May 2014, trains will return when Sunrail utilizes it as one of three downtown Orlando stops.


This collection of historic buildings just east of the train depot are known as Church Street Station. During the 1980s, Church Street Station was a popular entertainment venue. Today, it is home to a collection of restaurants, bars and retailers.


Much of downtown Orlando’s recent residential growth has come in the form of major infill mixed-use projects just east of the downtown historic district, within walking distance of Lake Eola Park.


Looking up at the Vue at Lake Eola.


The Vue can be seen rising in the background. Completed in 2007, the 424’ tower is the second tallest residential structure between Atlanta and Miami. Downtown Jacksonville’s Peninsula tops it at 437’.


The Sky House is nearing completion.


A lot is said about scale in discussions about infill development in Jacksonville. Orlando wants to be a big city and this can clearly be seen from the height and density of many recently constructed projects in the vicinity.


The Jackson on East Jackson Street.


Star Tower is on block west of The Jackson.


101 Eola


Infill apartment buildings by Texas-based Post Properties line Central Boulevard between downtown and Thornton Park.


Post Properties’ developments feature retail at street level along Central Boulevard.


The entrance of downtown Orlando’s Publix Supermarket.


Dynetech Centre was completed in 2008.


A look at Lake Eola.


A mixed use development on Summerlin Avenue.


The Winnie Palmer Hospital is located just south of downtown Orlando.


Expansion is under way on Orlando Health’s medical campus on the south end of downtown Orlando.


The Orlando Amtrak station is within walking distance of Orlando Health’s medical campus. Platforms for Sunrail are currently being added to this station as well.


The Plaza is an infill mixed use project that was developed by Cameron Kuhn in 2006. Around the same time, Kuhn made a major splash in Jacksonville, acquiring several buildings, including the Suntrust Tower, Barnett Bank Building and Laura Trio. Unfortunately, Florida’s economy went downhill before Kuhn could work his early 21st century revitalization magic in Jacksonville.


The entrance to the Plaza.


The Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts may be one of downtown Orlando’s most exciting projects underway.


When complete, the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts will include a 2,700 seat amplified hall, a 1,700 seat acoustical hall, a 300 seat community theater, an outdoor plaza, performance and educational space.


This existing office tower within close proximity to the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts is being converted into an Aloft Hotel.


The manicured entrance to Orlando’s city hall.


Looking at Orlando’s city hall building.

Images by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com