Hot Urban Living: The NQ District

June 17, 2015 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The North Quarter (NQ) is the fastest growing urban district in Orlando with new apartments, restaurants and a hotel. Over $200 million in real estate investment is anticipated to emerge in the five block NQ, over the next three years.

The Story Behind The NQ's Rise

In 2007, the NQ’s creative collaborators - Ustler Development, GDC Properties, and the Pizzutti Companies came together to share ideas on an opportunity to create a new “district” around several planned real estate projects. That meeting of the minds is rare in real estate development and is truly the start of the story. The unique thing about this collaboration is that each stakeholder has a shared respect for each other’s experience and background as well as a common vision for what North Quarter can become.

The group, which now also includes Pollack Shores, continues to share their development and neighborhood planning experiences from other projects or cities where they operate creating valuable synergy and a shared vision for the District. The product of the team’s collaboration will be a complimenting set of real estate developments that dynamically work together to create Orlando’s next great urban place.


The NQ (Uptown Orlando) in 2009

Metro Jacksonville's analysis of the NQ in January 2009:

"Uptown is very similar to the Central Business District but is still developing a character. It has much open space left for an area of downtown, yet has high aspirations too. With, among other things, the significant planned retail space, Uptown is expected to drastically change its skyline from the current three under 300' buildings."

Looking south down North Orange Avenue in 2009.

A New Look in 2015

Looking south down North Orange Avenue in 2015.

Since Metro Jacksonville's 2009 visit, significant visible change has engulfed the NQ. Once littered with vacant lots and underutilized parcels, North Orange is now lined with blocks of mid-rise mixed use developments, featuring urban residential living above street level retail and restaurants. The Florida Department of Transportation's District 5 (FDOT D5) has also reduced the corridor's travel lanes to accommodate bicycle lanes along the major downtown thoroughfare.

While most know about Sunrail, Orlando's new commuter rail line connecting central Orlando with Seminole and Volusia Counties, investments such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Bike Share, have also penetrated the North Quarter's borders.

On April 19, 2015, the LYMMO BRT Orange Line was expanded into the North Quarter District. The recent extension into the North District is a part of Orlando's commitment to investing and improving its infrastructure.  Downtown Orlando’s new North Quarter loop, is intended to increase mobility in Orlando's urban core, connect to other existing transit options such as SunRail, promoting active lifestyles and reducing our impact on the environment.

The North Quarter is also served by Juice Bike share. Managed by CycleHop, a private company that also operates bike-share programs in Atlanta, Phoenix and Tampa, Juice was launched in January 2015. Named in honor of the region's historical connection to the citrus industry, bicycles can be rented by the hour for $6 and $30 for a monthly membership. When the program launched, there were four stations and 20 bikes. Currently, there are 13 stations. The goal is to expand to 200 bikes and 20 stations. CycleHop receives no funding from the city, but it is allowed to use city land for free.

This district is also making a name for itself through Public Private Partnerships (P3s). An example of this is Atlanta-based Pollack Shores giving the city an easement on the western edge of their Steel House Apartments development, so the city can establish an urban shared use path paralleling the SunRail commuter rail line in downtown. Jaxson's should be familiar with this firm, considering it's developing The Brooklyn Riverside project near downtown Jacksonville.

A rendering of The Sevens

North Quarter is definitely an urban Florida neighborhood on the rise and a place that Jacksonville urban core advocates should take note of as we press forward with our own revitalization initiatives.

Here's a brief photo tour of Orlando's North Quarter.

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