While the focus in downtown Orlando has mainly been above ground as work continues on the I-4 Ultimate Project, city officials hope that eventually, the focus will be underneath it.

  • Under-I Project to feature major community park
  • Park would be under I-4 in downtown Orlando
  • Dog park, food vendors, basketball court slated for project

The city plans to add a giant urban community park to the area. It's called the "Under-I Project," and Doug Metzger, the project manager, shared more details on it.

"What's happening is I-4 is getting reconstruction... The bridges are going higher and going wider, and the piers are going further apart,” Metzger said. “So that gives us a lot more space and a lot more opportunity to add athletic facilities such as basketball courts, soccer pitches, playgrounds. We have a skateboard park and some performance spaces as well."

Officials now think the area under I-4 in downtown Orlando, once a dimly-lit parking lot and now a major construction zone, may end up becoming the city's premiere family entertainment complex when all is said and done.

The problem is, the city cannot get its hands on it until I-4 work is completed sometime in 2021. That is when the I-4 Ultimate project is slated to wrap up.

There is still a lot that needs to happen before the park project is a reality.

"We have been working for the last year to merge the vision plan with the actual construction plans for I-4, which is very complicated,” Metzger said. “We're dealing with stormwater systems, the new bridges, the foundations for the piers -- and trying to make all that compatible and fit together."

Although the planning stage is expected to take at least another year to complete, initial designs have the Under-I Project divided into five themed areas:

  1. The southernmost side is called the "Market Walk" and will feature permanent and temporary vendors for events. It should be a nice connection between Church Street and the Amway Center.
  2. Next is the "Events and More" section, which will have a dog park, skating park, life-sized chess board and staging areas for concerts and such.
  3. The "Family Time" section will include a splash pad for children, sand boxes, picnic tables and staging for food trucks, just to name a few options.
  4. The "Urban Athletics" section might be the most ambitious of them all, including volleyball and basketball courts, soccer fields and even a track.
  5. And finally, a walkway is planned to connect the Parramore neighborhood, which will have depictions of the history and heritage of the area along it.

No specific budgeting has yet been assigned to this project, and despite the area losing parking spots, the city says there is still more than enough parking in the area to accommodate the extra foot traffic expected.