The short answer is that the name “The City of Life” was Mr. Sidney Colen’s idea. He wanted to start a community that was remarkably different from anything he’d done before. He wanted to create a community that could truly be a celebration of life in all its diversity. The community he envisioned was one that was predominantly pedestrian, with cars only allowed on the periphery. Parks would be a prominent feature. The focus of the community would be centered on arts and education…arts of all kind, not so much from an entertainment perspective, but from an experiential level for the residents through their direct participation in the creation of works. In this regard, Mr. Colen was inspired by the success of the community of Chautauqua.
Interestingly enough, part of that original vision is being realized today through the Circle Square Cultural Center and Master the Possibilities Educational Center. Sholom Park is also an extension of that vision, as is the extensive commitment to building a park-like, pedestrian friendly atmosphere along the main thoroughfares within the community.
The thinking was a good 20 years ahead of its time. In many ways, this vision was a forbearer to the architecture movement known as “new urbanism”. The home design followed the theme consistent with being a pedestrian community. Every home had a front porch for sitting. Smaller, neighborhood green spots are distributed throughout the community. The limiting of automobiles proved not too practical. A truce of sorts was declared with the popular integration of golf carts into everyday usage.
So what happened to the name? Well, it never really got traction. Mr. Colen realized that the “On Top of the World” name had a wonderful reputation and excellent recognition already established in Clearwater, FL. Thus, the Ocala, FL community was renamed On Top of the World – Central within nine months of opening. As to the original vision, it had to adapt to the actual market reality: people will not easily part with their automobile(s). All things considered, it took longer to develop the original vision, and yes, there was adaptation along the way.Mr. Sidney Colen was very proud of the community he inspired and did live long enough to see much of that original vision realized. On Top of the World – Central continues to evolve and refine itself within the broad scope of the original vision. It is a community that deeply respects Mr. Colen’s environmental vision, as well as his admiration for the arts and education.