ABC Central Florida Builders’ Breakfast Recap: Orange County’s Vision for the Future

County says it will be ready for nearly 700,000 New Central Floridians by 2050.  

Alberto Vargas, planning manager for Orange County government, discusses future growth in Central Florida and the County’s readiness for that growth at the Associated Builders & Contractors – Central Florida Chapter Builders’ Breakfast on May 12.

by Michael Monahan, President & CEO, Moxē Integrated Marketing 

Orange County officials expect its population to grow to 2.1 million by 2050, representing 48 percent growth over current levels. 

Those 690,000 new Central Florida residents all need places to live, requiring 276,000 new housing units, a mix of detached, single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, courtyard apartment, bungalows, townhouses, other multi-family and midrise buildings to handle the extraordinary growth, which has only been exacerbated by COVID-era migration trends. 

Speaking to a group of builders and contractors at ABC Central Florida’s Builders’ Breakfast, Alberto Vargas, planning manager, Orange County Government said that he expects local municipalities will absorb about a quarter million of the nearly 700,000 new Central Floridians, leaving a shortfall of approximately 92,000 units. 

Orange County said it will be ready. 

Vargas shared Orange County’s Vision 2050 – its plan to prioritize context diversity and development that will provide environmental preservation, community character and mobility options for the future. 

“We are moving away from this one-size-fits-all type of interaction with the development community, from a compliance-based-driven document to a vision plan,” he said. “We’re moving away from segregated land uses, where commercial is developed as only commercial (and) where residential only develops as residential.” 

Orange County’s comprehensive plan guides development in different areas of the county, setting rules, goals and objectives for how development should occur. 

“We have to…think about planning and growth in Orange County differently and that’s what vision 2050 is doing,” he said. “We’re changing future land users. We’re combining the uses into integrated use to create places and we’re adding densities and intensities scenarios that are targeted for them.  

Orange County’s Vision 2050 has three key elements: market areas, sectors and place types. 

Market areas will look at six specific areas: northwest, southwest, core, east, south and the rural east to help the county organize and better understand the growth that it expects in those areas and the indicators that will drive future economic development. 

County planners will also evaluate different market sectors, looking to understand which areas it could targeted for growth. They’ll seek to understand which areas are best suited for growth and looking at that against other areas that are either more established, rural, or those it needs to preserve and those that have special purposes.  

Finally, the count will look at place types to evaluate the best locations for population centers, neighborhoods and corridors for future growth. 

Vargas said county planners are working with the development community and are reviewing new applications through an accessibility and mobility model that puts development opportunities into the county’s larger plans for the future.