Plans for 'vertical medical city' in Downtown Orlando

- Developers plan to build a new, senior-focused medical complex in Downtown Orlando, that includes  what would become the city’s tallest building.

Developers have shared few details about exactly where in downtown this complex will go, but they said they hope to break ground on the project within three years and finish it by 2024.

It’s called Orlando's Vertical Medical City, or VMC, and it’s the brainchild of developer Tabitha Ponte. She said the design will help build downtown Orlando and help patients.

“It serves our patients better to go vertical with a smaller footprint rather than horizontal and shorter, but also to try helping with the evolution and progress of the city,” she said.

The VMC plan would be a hundred feet taller than the SunTrust Building, and become the tallest skyscraper downtown.  Ponte says it would be eco-friendly and will focus on senior care, including assisted living.

“We want to minimize traffic impact, maximize pedestrian impact, and obviously care for our patients and outpatients.”

People downtown said any kind of progress is good.

“There's something Orlando needs, and that's much larger buildings with much larger office space,” said Scott Mann, who works downtown.

“We are a big city, we have tourist areas, you know,” said Monique Montgomery, who also works downtown, “and yes, I agree, we do need to build Orlando, so I think it's a really good idea.”

There are skeptics, though. Prof. Bruce Stephenson teaches environmental studies at Rollins College. He said it's great to bring jobs and people downtown, but buildings also ought to fit-in with their surroundings.

“For Orlando to be a city that is both aesthetic and functional, you need to scale it and order it in a harmonious way,” Stephenson said, “ultimately the jobs are going to come with good urbanism.”

Representatives from City Hall say it's too soon in the development process for them to comment.

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