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Can a group of college students transform Downtown Apopka?

The UCF Masters in Urban Planning team is taking on the task, and asking for resident feedback


In August 2022, the students from UCF’s Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Department started working with the City of Apopka to formulate a vision plan for Downtown Apopka as their Capstone course project. The City worked with UCF students in 2019 on a similar type of project, but this current project involves more data collection, in-depth analysis, and public engagement.

Prior to the start of the 2022 fall semester, Pam Richmond, Transportation Coordinator for the City, and Emily Hannah, Executive Director of Bike/Walk Central Florida, collaborated with UCF’s Dr. Luis Santiago, director of the capstone course, to develop a scope for the project that would give the students enrolled in the course the greatest learning and “hands-on” experience. Ms. Hannah has been working with the City for the last two years to help the City become safer for pedestrians. The City has experienced 23 traffic-related deaths on US 441 over the last five years in this study corridor. 

The students spent last fall collecting and analyzing data on traffic and recent vehicle-related deaths, land use, demographics, city services and infrastructure, market conditions, and urban form. 

After meeting with representatives from the Community Development Department, Bike/Walk Central Florida, and the Apopka Chamber, the team began brainstorming specific short-term, implementable projects, along with long-term plans that could ultimately transform Downtown Apopka into a vibrant, walkable town center. 

For purposes of the study, the team defined Downtown as everything between W. 1st Street down to E. 6th Street and from Hawthorne Avenue to Sheeler Avenue.

For purposes of the study, the team defined Downtown as everything between W. 1st Street down to E. 6th Street and from Hawthorne Avenue to Sheeler Avenue.
For purposes of the study, the team defined Downtown as everything between W. 1st Street down to E. 6th Street and from Hawthorne Avenue to Sheeler …

“There is so much potential for the Downtown Apopka area to become an eclectic destination for its residents,” said Ashley Morisette, a member of the graduating UCF team. “I know that the future of Downtown Apopka will be shaped by its rich history, established local businesses, and its connections to the Florida trail systems. It’s my hope that this Vision Plan, with input from the community, will capture these important aspects and guide the city to help make Downtown Apopka prosperous.”

The team is currently soliciting feedback and is making appearances at the Saturday Sounds series and the Propagate Social House. Residents can also fill out the short survey online through the QR code below through late March. 

There is also a public workshop on Wednesday, March 8, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Apopka Community Center to obtain additional community feedback. There will be poster boards showing the project proposals with the option to vote and leave comments.

About UCF’s MS-Urban and Regional Planning Program

The MS in Urban and Regional Planning program at UCF explores the technical and analytical skills required to develop innovative solutions that address the changing needs of communities. Coursework covers areas such as environmental planning, transportation planning, and planning for healthy communities, along with examining housing and other issues related to land use. (From ucf.edu/degree/urban-and-regional-planning-ms.) 

Economic Development, University of Central Florida, UCF, Apopka, Downtown Apopka, Masters of Urban and Regional Planning


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  • MamaMia

    Wow, we're getting these young university educated future professionals for free, who have been studying these master urban planning courses Too bad an economic developer, and economic developer department has already been approved, at a great cost to the city taxpayers, yearly, as an ongoing operating cost. It was not needed. Also, Apopka Critic indicated on his website, that Apopka needed an economic developer to get the federal funding grants for economic development being given out by the feds. FYI, Apopka already has a grant writer, that could have submitted applications for economic development grants for our city, without an economic developer, and economic developer department. I guess when the economic developer comes in, their work will already be done by the students, and he/she will get the credit for it and the big salary. Isn't that something?

    Wednesday, March 1 Report this

  • MamaMia

    Commissioner Becker, I don't know what you and the city attorney were screaming back and forth about in the private meeting behind closed doors, that wasn't very "private", after all, as apparently the entire floor of the staff and employees heard you both. I told you before here on The Apopka Voice that your behavior was getting unacceptable and outrageous for a sitting city commissioner. I told you that you should attend some anger management classes, as well as impulse control classes. I was serious, and still are very serious about my suggestion to you. You responded you are unapologetic, regarding your city council behavior. You still need to go to those classes, Kyle. I didn't think it would be legal to have the city council, and city attorney meeting behind closed doors without the public being able to listen in, or attend in an executive session regarding that. Sunshine law violation. I am not certain who Ms. Butcher is? Or what that was about? Or what your screaming was about either, but Kyle, you could not even get along with the last city attorney.

    Wednesday, March 1 Report this