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The Importance of New Urbanism in Orlando, Florida

The Importance of New Urbanism in Orlando, Florida

Florida is a state of dichotomies. Even after a decade of explosive population growth, much of the Sunshine State remains very rural. Coastal cities like Miami are home to the international super-rich, while just blocks away you can find families struggling to make ends meet. And, maybe most surprisingly, Florida – a state known in

Florida is a state of dichotomies. Even after a decade of explosive population growth, much of the Sunshine State remains very rural. Coastal cities like Miami are home to the international super-rich, while just blocks away you can find families struggling to make ends meet. And, maybe most surprisingly, Florida – a state known in urban planning textbooks as the epicenter for sprawl and the real estate crash – is home to the nation’s most important New Urbanist developments.

Baldwin Park Orlando Florida New Urbanism

Why is New Urbanism important? While this development theory is constantly adapting and improving, it has been used by planners and architects to counter the current trend of sprawling development by creating environmentally and socially sustainable neighborhoods.

Early developments like Seaside (the city from The Truman Show) and Celebration (originally developed by The Walt Disney Company) have been criticized as being little more than vacation enclaves or manufactured communities. New developments, however, are pushing the envelope to become environmentally friendly, affordable, and, most importantly, real. Here are three examples from Orlando, Florida:

1. Hampton Park, Orlando

Hampton Park looks like your typical southern neighborhood from days gone by with its tree-lined streets where every house has a front porch. What you don’t realize is that a portion of this clever mix of single-family houses, townhomes, apartments, and live-work units is actually set aside for office space, low and moderate-income housing, and apartments for the elderly.

Hampton Park Orlando Florida New Urbanism

2. Baldwin Park, Orlando

For a primer on pre-WWII architectural styles in Florida, visit the mixed-use neighborhood of Baldwin Park. Taking advantage of Lake Baldwin as a terminus for the development’s town center, this project turned over 1,000 acres of abandoned military training facilities into a walkable neighborhood with 450 acres of parks.

3. Avalon Park, Orange County

Avalon Park in southeast Orange County embraces its suburban location by designating over 8,000 acres of its site as a natural preserve that integrates with the protected lands around it.

For more information on these and many more projects, take a look at A Guide to New Urbanism in Florida.

Do you think New Urbanism is an effective strategy to combat sprawl?

Credits: Images copyright of Alex Lenhoff.  Data linked to sources.

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Alex Lenhoff is a graduate of the Masters of Planning in Civic Urbanism program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. His other degrees include anthropology and foreign languages, which provide him with a diverse, human-centered perspective on...

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