Orlando's Medical City could bring 30,000 jobs by 2017

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LAKE NONA, Fla. - UCF's first class of medical students at Lake Nona graduated Friday.

Just one mile away, what some called a billion-dollar gamble -- Orlando's Medical City -- appears to be paying off.

A list of permits issued from 2000 to 2009 for the area just off Narcoossee Road shows a record number of roads, homes and businesses being built at a rapid pace, twice that of any other location in the county.

The sound of construction fills the air in the land adjacent to Orlando's Medical City.

A decade ago, things were much quieter.

"Lake Nona just generated such a buzz with the uniqueness of Medical City," said Carolyn Vanderzyden of Ashton Woods Homes.

The buzz has translated into construction. In one community, about 400 lots have been sold, and there is room for another 2,000.

The allure of new homes is one reason people have said they moved to Medical City, but the main reason is proximity, because the hospitals can literally be seen from the end of the street.

Registered Nurse Kimberly Burke moved to Medical City from New York with her husband, dog and four kids. She said her husband is a pilot and her oldest son wants to go to med school.

Burke said the area is a perfect fit.

"The ability to ride my bike to work is very appealing," Burke said.

She said it is exciting to see the community develop.

The city has pumped more than $80 million into roads and infrastructure in the area, all designed to set the stage for 19,000 acres of development.

In 2008, a new study by the county concluded the area had been 80 percent committed. Updated projections estimate an economic impact of 30,000 jobs and $7.6 billion by 2017.