ORLANDO – So what’s happening with parking in downtown Orlando?
Never an easy place to find street parking near the most popular venues (Lake Eola Park, the Amway Center, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Camping World Stadium), the loss of some parking areas to the ongoing I-4 Ultimate Improvement project on that highway has made a rough situation even worse.
And combine that with the fact that more and more events are going on in downtown these days – yes, it truly is becoming a very happening place – that suddenly a place to park is becoming the hottest commodity of all. Is it time for Orlando to invest in major downtown parking venues before the crowds get fed up and go elsewhere?
It’s worth noting that the office of Mayor Buddy Dyer now issues cautionary notices to residents and visitors alike on weekends when the activities are booming. Such is the case with Saturday.
“As Downtown Orlando continues to be the place for Central Florida to gather and create unique experiences, the city is committed to helping visitors and residents easily get to the area, find parking, enjoy the atmosphere and travel home safety,” noted Casandra A. Lafser, the mayor’s press secretary.
With road closures in downtown being necessitated by the construction of the I-4 Ultimate – which is widening the interstate and adding toll lanes in the middle – the suggestion in her press report was simple and direct: plan accordingly, and think about leaving early for downtown.
Because on Saturday, she noted, “in addition to Downtown’s regular active and vibrant scene, several large-scale events are planned and additional road closures will be implemented.”
“Event attendees are encouraged to plan their routes and parking ahead of time and to give themselves enough time to anticipate any unforeseen delays,” Lafser added
Her report included a map of road closures and recommended routes at City of Orlando Notice, and a list of the major events in downtown that include:
· Buddy Walk at Lake Eola Park.
· “On Your Feet,” the musical being performed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
· Star 94.5 Block Party at Lake Eola Park.
· The SOUL2SOUL concert at the Amway Center.
· Swingin’ With The Big Band, a music tribute show at the Bob Carr Theater.
· Immerse 2017, a Creative City Project going on in various locations around Downtown Orlando.
That’s a lot of activities, bringing thousands to downtown. The Amway Center alone can occupy 18,000 patrons; at Camping World Stadium, it’s 60,000. That’s like a small town invading Orlando on one evening.
The city has no intention of scaring them away based on stuff like massive traffic jams getting into downtown or slim pickings on the parking front, so they’re dispensing advice like the Best Driving Directions from Interstate 4 (hint: exit at Amelia Street) or from State Road 408 (take the Rosalind Avenue exit).
They’re also noting that parking spots at city garages can be purchased in advance, which lets you reserve a space. Just visit Purchase City of Orlando pre-event parking and Purchase pre-event parking at Geico Garage to learn more.
And parking is available at:
· Jefferson Garage, 62 W Jefferson St. 2801
· Washington St. Garage, 50 W Washington St.
· Central Boulevard, 53 West Central Boulevard
· Capital Plaza Parking Garage, 302 E Pine St.
· City Commons Garage, 460 Boone Ave.
· Orange County Administration Garage, 300 Liberty Ave.
· Library Garage, 112 E. Central Boulevard
· Jefferson Garage, 62 W Jefferson St.
Huge traffic jams in downtown and vanishing parking can be seen as a sign of success. There’s nothing worse than an empty downtown with events that no one is going to. That’s a depressing sign of a dying city.
Based on the recent evidence, Orlando definitely isn’t dying. Far from it.
In downtown Orlando these days, it’s more like the movie “Field of Dreams”: If you stage it, they will come.
But Orlando will be issuing a lot more traffic and parking advisories in the days ahead unless the city decides it’s time to offer more parking opportunities, and fast.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the terrifying, violent and gory book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..