“OBT Next”—Looking Toward the Future

The project—dubbed “OBT Next”—provides the opportunity to take a fresh look at the OBT business corridor and adjacent neighborhoods. This effort will leverage the work of emergent community members, leaders, and partners who are interested in repositioning OBT and rebuilding the area to create new opportunities.

In the 1950s and 60s, Orange Blossom Trail (OBT) (part of US 441) in Orlando, Florida was the area’s premier north-south route for tourists, filled with hotels, great restaurants, and other thriving businesses. Today, the landscape on OBT is very different—in the past four decades, the corridor has experienced disinvestment leading to destabilized businesses and neighborhoods.

Supplied with a grant from the State of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, the nonprofit Orange Blossom Trail Development Board (OBTDB) has tasked GAI Consultants’ Community Solutions Group (CSG) with assisting the community to create a series of overall plans for an eight-mile segment of OBT, or the “Trail,” as many locals call it, from Colonial Drive (State Road [SR] 50) to the Beachline Expressway (SR 528). CSG Principal-in-Charge Tom Kohler notes, “This project will enable the OBTDB to continue revitalizing the corridor and serving as a conduit between local governments, property owners, developers, and other groups with the sole purpose of improving the lives of area residents and boosting economic development along OBT.”

“This project will enable the OBTDB to continue revitalizing the corridor and serving as a conduit between local governments, property owners, developers, and other groups with the sole purpose of improving the lives of area residents and boosting economic development along OBT.”

Tom Kohler, CSG Principal-in-Charge

The End Goal—OBT Next

Working with staff from OBTDB, the City of Orlando, and Orange County, CSG will provide planning and economic/market analyses; identify policies, programs, and implementation strategies; and assist staff in engaging the public with evaluating opportunities for improving the OBT area. Under the direction of OBTDB, a steering committee comprised of community stakeholders will develop three complementary plans for the corridor, including a Community Redevelopment Area Plan Update, a Safe Neighborhood Plan Update, and a Master Plan for the entire corridor. The plans will be solution focused, and the OBT Next Team will carefully consider implementation strategies necessary to putting them into action.

Accomplished To Date—OBT Next

The OBT Next project kicked off on October 12, 2016 at Camping World Stadium just west of Downtown Orlando. Between November 5 and November 17, a series of walking audits and neighborhood meetings took place at five distinct areas along OBT (refer to the map below). On the walks, attendees assessed each corridor segment, and in the meetings that followed, identified and discussed the challenges and opportunities of each study area.

OBTNext Map

Timeline and What’s Coming Up—OBT Next

The 11-month project will run from October 2016 to September 2017. During this time, members of the community will have the opportunity to participate in public engagement events—meetings, walking audits, and online participation—for each of four project phases, as detailed below:

OBT Next Timeline

While looking ahead to each of the four project phases, CSG Lead Project Planner and Urban Designer Claudia Ray emphasizes, “The OBT area has complex physical, social, and economic challenges. Part of the OBT Next process will be uncovering the area’s potential so we can find short-, medium-, and long-term solutions.”

A lofty challenge indeed, but with the help and efforts of many determined and motivated individuals in the community and on the OBT Next Team, the OBT corridor can once again be an attractive and economically viable place for Orlando’s residents, businesses, and visitors to enjoy.

For questions or additional information about the OBT Next project, contact Claudia Ray at 407.423.8398. To learn how to participate, share ideas, and get involved, email, call 321.319.3088, visit www.OBTNext.com, or check out Facebook or YouTube.


For related information, check out the following blog post:

OBT Development Board awarded $500,000 grant for possible corridor makeover

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