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2011 February | Under Construction Forever

Guest Post: A Vision for Walkable Development Around UCF

Posted: February 28th, 2011 | Filed under: Around Campus, Guest Posts, Housing | No Comments »

This post was submitted by Alex.  Alex graduated from UCF and has always been interested in urban planning. Currently he lives in East Orlando where he works for a small research company. In his spare time he enjoys exploring all that Orlando and Central Florida have to offer. You can read more about things to see and do in the City Beautiful on his blog, Alex in Orlando.

I was at UCF for the first time in a while this past week and noticed a lot of changes: the new police station, the Reading center, new stop lights. But my favorite addition – just off campus – is the Sterling Central apartments. With the scaffolding off the newest phase, it gives you a really good impression of the final product.

UCF Sterling Central Apartments

Waiting at the stoplight at Central Florida Blvd. and Alafaya, I felt like I was looking at a new downtown area. It looks like a well thought out, walkable urban area (if you don’t pay attention to all the empty lots and sprawl around the University/Alafaya intersection). My favorite part of the UCF campus is the area around the arena, so I’m glad to see some of that style and planning outside the campus. I think it sets a whole new standard for East Orlando.

UCF Sterling Central Apartments

That being said, I think there’s still a lot left to do at the intersection of University and Alafaya. Let’s ignore environmental and zoning regulations for a second – and the fact that UCF would never sell its land east of Alafaya – and imagine a cool, walkable urban environment. Mixed-use developments would be geared towards students, but also professionals working at UCF and Research Park, without alienating the families that already live there. Just a few roads/pedestrian paths would be enough to create through-roads for a more grid-like system.

UCF Area Development Proposed Layout

This might ease traffic and make bus routes more effective, as well as provide an alternative to drunk driving. Besides the possibility for redeveloping the University Shoppes plaza, there are already a lot of popular businesses, restaurants, and bars in the area. That, combined with the thousands of carless students, gives the area outside UCF a lot of potential.

Web Roundup: UCF Track and Soccer Complex Taking Shape

Posted: February 24th, 2011 | Filed under: Web Roundup | No Comments »

Here’s what has been in the news about UCF area construction projects recently:

UCF Athletics Facilities: Ready For The Next Level (Part 1 of 2)

Posted: February 4th, 2011 | Filed under: Athletics, Knights Plaza, Track and Soccer Stadium, UCF Arena | No Comments »

Bright House Networks Stadium with statue

As you know, this is not a UCF sports blog, and I don’t intend to make it one.  However, conference expansion is ongoing and UCF has a chance to make the jump from Conference USA to an Automatic Qualifying (AQ) BCS football conference in the BIG EAST.  The BIG EAST is currently the only AQ conference openly pursuing expansion to at least 10 teams (the 8-team conference recently added TCU for 2012).  Among the remaining expansion candidates, UCF’s name is always in the discussion as a potential (some say likely) target for the BIG EAST Conference.

Many people around the country are beginning to take notice of what is going on at UCF, given the recent success of the football and basketball programs. The football team finished ranked in the top 20 after winning C-USA and beating Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.  The basketball team got off to a hot start, also earning its first top-25 ranking after starting the season 14-0. And most recently, top football recruits from around the country are choosing UCF over traditional BCS AQ teams, citing the unlimited potential to excel here at UCF.

But expansion candidates are evaluated on a number of factors beyond program success.  Academics, fan support, TV market, and facilities are also considered.  Since this is a blog about construction and development at and around UCF, you can probably guess what the focus of this post is going to be.  In this two-part series, we’ll look at the facilities UCF has built in the past 10 years, what’s currently under construction, and what is still in the pipeline for the future.

UCF Bright House Networks Stadium aerial

Brighthouse Networks Stadium

Year Completed: 2007. Capacity: 45,301. After years of playing football 15 miles from campus at the aging Citrus Bowl, UCF built its own stadium on campus.  Seating expansion to 56,000 and additional luxury suites are expected within 10 years.

UCF Nicholson Fieldhouse

Indoor practice facility (Nicholson Fieldhouse)

Year Completed: 2005. The first of its kind in Florida. Regulation 120-yard field with FieldTurf surface in a climate-controlled building.  Other schools are playing catch-up: FSU is building an indoor facility but it won’t be open until June 2012.

UCF Wayne Densch Sports Center

Wayne Densch Sports Center

Completed: 2003. This building houses the football offices, as well as the strength & conditioning facilities for all sports. There are already plans to expand this building, which I will cover in the next post.

UCF Arena

UCF Arena

Year Completed: 2007. Capacity: 10,000.  UCF opened its new basketball arena in the middle of Knights Plaza, a mixed-use retail area with restaurants, residence halls, and more. Concerts, commencements, and other large events are also held here. Check out my previous post for more photos: Photo Tour: Knights Plaza & UCF Arena.

UCF Jay Bergman Field

Jay Bergman Field

Year Completed: 2001. Capacity: 2,230.  New video board was added in 2008, and the viewing deck behind right field was added in 2010.  Multi-phase expansion plans are also in the works for “The Berg”, with construction starting very soon. More details in the next post.

UCF Softball Complex

UCF Softball Complex

Year Completed: 2006. Capacity: 600.  The UCF Softball Complex sits right across the street from Brighthouse Stadium.  It houses offices, batting cages, training room, lounges, and conference rooms.

UCF Track Soccer Complex

Track and Soccer Complex

Year Completed: 1991. Capacity: 600. Even though it was only built 20 years ago, it is one of UCF’s oldest facilities.  Track surface was replaced in 2004, and several small improvements were made in 2008.  Construction just started on the multi-phase expansion project, which will bring seating capacity to over 2,000.

…And More

Rowing, Tennis and Golf also have beautiful facilities. Check out the official website for more information on these facilities.

What’s Next?

It’s clear that UCF has made the commitment to bring its athletics facilities to the next level.  It could be argued that what we have here in Orlando is already on par with many top-level athletics programs around the country. But there’s still a lot of work to do.

My next post will highlight what’s currently under construction and what is in the planning stages.  Hitt, Tribble, and the rest of the administration are determined to make UCF a household name when it comes to top-level athletics, and it looks like they are on the right track so far.

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