East Colonial Drive Vision Statement
This Vision Statement describes the kind of place the East Colonial Drive Corridor can become in 20 years through the City's planning efforts. It highlights the area's best attributes and brings focus to the vision plan.
East Colonial Drive between Bumby Avenue and Old Cheney Highway is one of Orlando's three metropolitan activity centers. It is one of the most important hubs of retail activity within the city limits. It serves the major shopping needs of much of the Orlando urban area. The nearby Orlando Executive Airport (OEA) is among the City's leading employers, increasing the regional importance and drawing power of the activity center. The business district and its surrounding neighborhoods also enjoy a special relationship.
The major land uses in and around East Colonial Drive draw upon each other to form a whole that is greater than its parts. Together, they are like a town, providing all the things that a town needs. Creating this town feeling means taking advantage of the unique mixture of uses now in the area - malls, restaurants, services, recreation, OEA, close-in neighborhoods - and adding more. In this way, growth and intensification can benefit the activity center. But like any town, the East Colonial Corridor will be a mixture - keeping and improving older buildings and building new ones, editing uses and adding new ones.
A Vision of the Future
Imagine the Colonial Town Center of the future. Two decades from now, in the early 2030’s, a group of friends is about to spend a day ‘on the town,’ and they all agree that East Colonial Drive is the place to be. Why? Just look around - it has interesting activities that draw people. There is unique retail, such as upscale stores, an outlet mall, and quality full-service restaurants with personality. Things to do also include family-oriented fun activities like skating, amusements and a community center. Some of these activities are at Festival Park, which provides active recreation and park facilities in addition to festivals and special events. The group of friends has agreed to meet at a restaurant near the transit center. They used several different modes of travel to get there. Some drove, some rode the express bus, others came on bike or even walked from their homes and apartments nearby. Apartments and townhomes within and near the corridor have brought new customers and added pedestrian life. The neighborhoods nearby also have been improved and protected, since commercial growth and intensification have been restricted to sites within and at the edges of the town center.
A Place of Beauty
Colonial Drive is a beautiful, bustling, active place that attracts people from all over town. It is lined with trees, palms, and colorful drifts of flowering shrubs. The main intersections are identified as special places by corner walls, highlighted crosswalks and palms, while others have smaller palms and flowering trees. The streetscape design is quite urban and consistent throughout the corridor, with ample sidewalks and directional signs. Gateways define the commercial district at Bumby Avenue and Old Cheney Highway. It is easy for the group of friends to find the stores and restaurants they are looking for because the street scene changes a bit along the way. Each part of Colonial Drive is unique and memorable. A different shopping center or mall becomes a destination point on every road segment.
Even in our most optimistic vision of the future, traffic congestion on East Colonial Drive has not disappeared. But the group of friends makes use of an efficient public transit system to get around while out on the town. A circulator connecting the major malls and shopping destinations links with the regional bus rapid transit (BRT) system at the transit center, providing connections to SunRail, transit superstops, and the entire metropolitan transit system. On the regional transit system, bus stops include shelters, benches, shade and handicapped access - and are clean and well-maintained. Bike paths and walkways also link neighborhoods to major shopping and recreational destinations and encircle the town center.
In the 2030’s, parking is still a critical part of the area’s transportation system. Those who drove to this day on the town parked at the transit center’s parking garage. If they had come for a quick shopping trip at one of Colonial Town Center’s shopping destination areas, they could have found parking available for the destination as a whole - or store-by-store, linked to other destinations by the transit circulator.
Improvements to thoroughfares have helped reduce cut-through traffic in neighborhoods. Parallel service roads such as Fairgreen Street relieve some of the traffic burden on Colonial Drive. A north-south road connects Colonial Town Center to neighborhoods south of the East-West Expressway. Together, these public transit and thoroughfare improvements serve the dual purposes of improving access to the business district and protecting surrounding neighborhoods from the effects of growth.
The circle of friends may not have thought about it during their day together, but growth in Colonial Town Center has occurred in an environmentally responsible manner. By promoting public transit and more shade tree cover, air quality effects have been reduced. The water quality impact of town center growth has decreased through innovative programs to clean up stormwater, including green roofs, porous pavements, energy-efficient building techniques, and an area-wide drainage plan that reuses treated graywater and stormwater for irrigation.
How can this vision of the future be achieved? Urban design, transportation, environmental protection and public safety improvements like those envisioned for the East Colonial corridor are not without cost. Yet they are an investment in the future of both the town center and its surrounding neighborhoods, and in the economic well-being of the City as a whole. Merchants, property owners and the City must be confident that there will be a return on their investment - more shoppers, higher property values and better neighborhoods. A partnership of public and private action will make this vision for Colonial Town Center a reality.