Downtown Orlando Introduces The Canopy

ORLANDO — Residents of Orlando, visitors and tourists alike, get ready for something truly special in Downtown Orlando: Check out the city’s newest edition, The Canopy.

The city has finalized its plans for The Canopy, described as a blend of “nature and technology,” which is going to begin construction in 2025. Once completed, anyone who comes to downtown Orlando will have access to a stunning new 10 acre park that will include the largest light show in the world.

“The City of Orlando is proud to introduce The Canopy, the latest iteration of the urban gathering space formerly known as the Under-i Project,” the city noted in a news release.  “The official name of the project is another step forward in the development of this unique hub and came about through the most recent design exercise incorporating feedback from the city’s online survey and public meetings in the fall of 2023.”

What Is Downtown Orlando’s Project “The Canopy?” 

Downtown Orlando Launches The Canopy

The designs call for a new $30 million 10-acre park that’s going to be constructed beneath Interstate 4 in downtown. This park will run in between South Hughey and South Garland avenues, and will start at West Church Street near the Kia Center and end at West Washington Street. Construction is expected to take about two years to complete.

It was Orlando’s own residents who inspired the name, the city noted.

“The name, The Canopy, was inspired by the newly updated design which blends nature and technology, drawing inspiration from Orlando’s beautiful canopy of trees, to create a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable urban oasis that reflects the spirit of downtown Orlando, connects its diverse neighborhoods and fosters a sense of belonging for all,” the city notes.

The area where The Canopy is slated to get built used to be a parking lot. Since the completion of the I-4 Ultimate project, which redesigned I-4 to include a toll section, the former parking lot running from Washington Street to Church Street has been fenced off and inaccessible. Now, the city is not only pledging more parking, but a stunning urban park close to local institutions such as the Kia Center, Church Street, Camping World Stadium, and Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The project is expected to add 150 paid public parking spots in the area around Pine Street and Central Boulevard, and a “rideshare zone” for rideshare drop-offs and pickups. The pilot program, expected to begin in April, will “integrate flexible transportation options to create an easier and more enjoyable experience for people when visiting downtown Orlando,” the city notes.

The 10-acre park will be filled with green space, immersive art and pathways for walking and biking. Also in the works: plans for one of the largest outdoor projection light shows in the world.

Looking for a unique place to throw a party? Tje park will include space for large gatherings.

How Did Orlando Design The Canopy?

After getting feedback from city residents on how this vacant space should be used, the city noted that the designs focus on six core principles that residents indicated were most important to them. Those principles include: 

  • Connection: Seamlessly integrating with various modes of transportation to ensure accessibility for all.  
  • Safety: Prioritizing the well-being and security of visitors through thoughtful design and strategic planning.  
  • Community: Providing ample space for gatherings, festivals and cultural events that bring people together.  
  • Greenery: Infusing the urban landscape with lush landscaping and green spaces for relaxation and rejuvenation.  
  • Mobility: Creating pedestrian-friendly walkways and bike paths to encourage active lifestyles and sustainable transportation.  
  • Artistic Immersion: Enriching The Canopy with immersive art installations that captivate the imagination and inspire creativity.  

 Once the pilot begins, city leaders emphasized, the permanent project design “can be modified to meet future multimodal needs.  Construction for the pilot is expected to begin in early April 2024 and is expected to be complete this summer. The pilot project is estimated to last approximately 12 months.”

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the terrifying book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *