Orlando’s Downtown Development Board/CRA has hired a new Nighttime Economy Manager.
Justin Eason (LinkedIn) comes to the role with ten years in the downtown hospitality industry (Eason worked for V-Group, the same hospitality group as his predecessor, Dominique Greco) and most recently served in Transportation and Transit as a City Planner for Osceola County. He has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCF and his mix of experience with the bar industry and public sector programming is what helped him stand out for the job, according to David Barilla, Assistant Director of the Downtown Development Board.
Barilla told Bungalower that they’re already working to reactivate a previous advisory board, the Nighttime Economy Taskforce, comprised of downtown business owners, to reassess current needs and to establish some new benchmarks moving forward.
Previous programs like the downtown rideshare hubs, mobile restrooms, and food truck stops are not on the table to return, though the City is currently working on formalizing new codes to allow for trucks in the downtown core as well as investing in some more permanent restroom options.
According to Barilla, one of the most important items on the table is that of safety.
“It’s important that all people feel safe to come downtown, and while that’s not necessarily our responsibility and we’re working with our partners at the police department on that issue, we are working on identifying strategies to empower our businesses and ourselves, to position our nighttime economy to thrive.”– DAVID BARILLA, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT BOARD
The DDB is in the final stages of a Downtown Orlando Nighttime Economy Impact Assessment that will document the value of the nighttime economy for the City. A full report is expected by the end of 2021 and it will also weigh the impact of the pandemic on the Central Business District.
In other news, the CRA has just selected Perkins and Will Architects, Inc. to carry out a new Downtown Master Plan that could have major implications on how people come to and leave the Central Business District.
Topics to be covered include possibly making Orange and Rosalind avenues into two-way streets, improving the public right-of-way, and enhancing public spaces – all based on the findings of Project DTO. HIgh-level plans and designs are expected to be in hand by the end of 2022.