Updated:ORLANDO, Fla. —
9 Investigates is revealing some of the first clues about who may move into the taxpayer-funded Creative Village in downtown Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood.
Currently, white banners still surround the site, a so-called “live, work, learn and play” community that city leaders said will eventually bring 5,000 new, high-tech jobs.
But now, 9 Investigates has some of the first hard evidence about one of the Village’s potential marquee tenants: online education giant the Florida Virtual School.
“It does look like they are narrowing in on the Virtual School,” said Mike Cantone of the Fight Back Coalition.
That coalition opposed the Creative Village development, and Cantone disagrees with the prospect of giving the online school a spot in the taxpayer-subsidized development.
Critics see Florida Virtual School as operating in a regulatory gray zone, free from many of the rules of traditional public schools.
But 9 Investigates has confirmed there was a Feb. 22 meeting in City Hall’s Cabinet Room between Mayor Buddy Dyer and Creative Village developer Craig Ustler.
The city acknowledges Florida Virtual School was a topic of the meeting. Now, a city spokesperson tells WFTV, “(Florida Virtual School) would be an ideal tenant for the Creative Village,” even though final tenant decisions have not been made.
“This is clearly not the educational anchor they were seeking for Creative Village,” said Cantone.
Florida Virtual School is profitable and successful, according to Channel 9’s George Spencer, and it is the largest state virtual school in the nation and educates students in every central Florida school district.
What’s more, FVS has already expressed a strong interest in Creative Village tenancy to Ustler.
If the virtual school does come to Creative Village, it would join smaller outpost from the University of Central Florida and a local charter school in that 1-million square-foot project.