A Utopia Off OBT: Hunter’s Creek

In 1984, Vancouver’s Genstar Southern Development began the 20-plus year project that would eventually be the residential giant on the south end between John Young Parkway and Orange Blossom Trail known as Hunter’s Creek. Genstar intended on creating community that fit the needs of a growing Central Florida population looking for upscale housing. Hunter’s Creek not only satisfied that need for housing, but evolved into a huge community which many in the surrounding area wished they could live.

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Who wouldn’t want to live there? The golf courses, the restaurants, the cranes, my God the Cranes! Hunter’s Creek became a community associated with luxury, way before attempts at a utopian society in Disney’s Celebration project, a home in the Eagle’s Landing subdivision meant a bright future for your family. Growing up, you referred to the kids who lived in Hunter’s Creek as “fancy” and “rich”.

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Being from Whisper Lakes, another community down the road built almost simultaneously, you could not help but let rivalries grow. It was in the name, and that name was placed on everything. The schools demonstrated the latest in Education technology, and parents were lured into purchasing a home with the belief that their child would be gaining a world class education.

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They were right, and for the first decade or so, the schools were a shining example of success in the often criticized Florida Educational system. Classrooms utilized computer technology and laboratories to give students an upper hand in the constantly changing workplace of the late 90’s.

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Student and Recreational League Athletes found a home in the community’s many parks, courts, and fields. As a child, the most intense Jr. Magic games came when we played two teams, Celebration, and Hunter’s Creek. The latter had some of the most enthusiastic parents you’d ever witness, and they took pride in their little community’s teams.

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Future athletes had an early advantage because the number of parks in Hunter’s Creek were a dream to a child full of imagination and energy. Later on in life when skateboards and blades entered the picture the park’s became even more enticing.

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However, they were off limits to those who didn’t have proper identification, a sad truth to learn as a child.

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As the years passed, and the economy did what it does best, tank, and the allure of Hunter’s Creek began to fade. Popular businesses shut down and made room for new kids on the block, sorry Kmart.

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As overcrowding and construction grew rampant, the community began to take on a new life. What was once a carefully planned residential Florida sanctuary, is now another overpopulated city/suburb hybrid that you can only find in Central Florida. Driving into Hunter’s Creek is not as simple as it used to be, at the time of its inception Orlando was a much quieter place. Take these drive time estimates, they cant be serious, 10 minutes to get to the airport?

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Anyone who has had to drive through Hunter’s Creek knows that traffic, more than anything, is what has grown exponentially in the past decade. While driving with your best four legged buddy may have been hip in the 90’s, sitting in a hot car in John Young traffic with a dog is not ideal.

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Symbolic of Central Florida, the community is one of the most diverse in Orlando, and is home to a wide array of entertainment and dining venues. The area continues to grow, and evolve, bringing in more homeowners who will shape the community. With its reputation cemented into Orlando’s suburban culture, it’s unlikely the growth will never stop. For those of us that have lived here for a large part of their life can all say that one time we’ve all taken at least one trip past that majestic crane inspired sign.

Let’s take a look back at the Hunter’s Creek of yesterday, one documented in this early 90’s promotional VHS sent out to potential residents around the country. Current and past residents of the community will find many aspects of this video quite comical, but nevertheless, it still provides insight into what enticed thousands of families to make the move at the time. You’re gonna feel right at home.

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