One well-known developer tossed out a prediction Tuesday morning that Orlando's poorest and most blighted downtown neighborhood will in a decade be one of its most valuable.
"Parramore will be more valuable than Thornton Park because it's more diverse," said Craig Ustler at a who's who gathering of planners and real estate developers hosted by the Urban Land Institute.
That could be wishful thinking by Ustler, who happens to be developing the so-called Creative Village on the site of the old Amway arena in Parramore.
Or it could be right-on analysis of what a new generation wants.
Millennials, Ustler said, don't seem to want developments like Baldwin Park that are "pre-loaded with amenities."
More popular, he said, will be neighborhoods like Parramore that provide some "intellectual challenge" for how to solve problems and be a part of the solution.
"It turns the development mold upside down," he said. "That's truly what I think is going to happen."
Ustler's comments came during a discussion titled "Reshaping and Reinventing Central Florida."
Chris Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, was the featured guest at Tuesday's event. He says cities have an opportunity to redefine themselves because half of the buildings that will be standing by 2030 don't exist today.
He also projects home ownership in Orlando will decline from about 66 percent today to 62 percent in 2040.
And the big underground movement of the future? Projects to add second kitchens and other modifications to McMansions as more and more households become multi-generational and multiple families live under one roof.
Meanwhile, aging Baby Boomers will soon begin selling off their homes.
In all those statistics, he said, are opportunities.
Dying shopping plazas can be reinvented as housing developments, specifically new types of rental housing.
The area near the University of Central Florida has already seen two examples of that in the last year. The old movie theater plaza on the corner of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail was razed to make way for student apartments. And the old Winn Dixie plaza in the Carillon subdivision off McCullouch Road was torn down for new a UCF housing project.
But there is also evidence such as dropping rent prices that the student housing market near campus is becoming over-saturated.
Another trend? Michael Kidd, vice president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, says about 34 percent of local buyers are from outside of the country and bring cash to the table.
"They always ask, 'Where is the town center,'" he said. "They are disappointed by how car-bound they are going to be."
The underlying message there? In addition to downtown Orlando, Central Florida needs more functional suburbs. Places that are walkable and have the kind of services and entertainment people want without straying too far from home.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun