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klstorey

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About klstorey

  • Birthday 08/15/1984

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    https://www.orlandoweekly.com/author/ken-storey
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    KenLStorey

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    Orlando
  • Interests
    Urban Sociology, Urban Design, Tourism, Economic Growth, Creativity

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  1. I have indeed taken a new job and had to step away from my writing at OW. I'm working for a local planning agency now, in the communication department. It's a perfect blend of my two interests. I still contribute some to Halldale Group's military and aviation magazines but since I'm now working in local planning I've stepped away from covering anything within the region.
  2. So some interesting random Orlando connections. Oral Roberts' third president, and the first not in the family, was Dr. Mark Rutland. Prior to leading Oral Roberts, he was the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland. Prior to that, he was the Senior Pastor at Calvary Assembly (the glass one in Winter Park beside I-4). Calvary Assembly is where he really sharpened his skills, helping saving the church from financial ruin. He then did the same turnaround at SEU and then ORU. Another little tidbit, one of the founders of SEU (when it was still located in Alabama) was Edgar W. Bethany. His daughter was Jan Crouch, the co-founder of TBN made famous by her pink hair and her unique style best showcased at the now defunct Holy Land Experience. Just like Kevin Bacon, Orlando is never too far removed from any topic.
  3. This slide from their 2015 Manby era investor call still seems like a great plan IMO. The most intriguing part of it isn't the SeaWorld parking lot but the hotel encircling Discovery Cove. I could easily see some Poly style bungalows going in there and blowing every other resort out of the water for beauty and experience. I could even see them reworking DC to be a part of a large resort, à la Atlantis. I do think the SeaWorld parking lot and the upper left yellow resort area should be flipped. I think something more in line with the old Hetzel entrance project would be perfect for today's SeaWorld. But I'd swap those surface lots for more resorts and a small retail complex, maybe even space for a couple of midway style attractions similar to the ones they were rumored to be looking at for China. I'm proud of SeaWorld. As the only true Orlando based theme park company, I think its important to see them succeed. They're a nice balance from the other large attractions in the area.
  4. I'll drop these here versus in the SunRail board as I'm mostly focused on the area around the station. On my way out of Deland the other day I stopped by the train station to check out their future SunRail stop. There's some growth in the area but nothing too big just yet. This area feels so disconnected from Deland. I'm hoping they develop some type of trolley connecting the fish camps on the St. John's to this station and then to downtown. I think the St. John's fish camps are crucial as the region is starting to see more interest in river cruises. I could see river cruises disembarking at the camps and then having some type of unique transit option linking them to downtown. It would only make sense to then also include the SunRail Station. The Deland Station needs a lot of TLC before it can handle any crowds. The parking is very limited but there did seem to be a few cars parked long-term there, I guess it's ok to leave a car here if you take Amtrak? The Station itself has a lot of character. I hope this building is restored. The biggest issue IMO is the electrical, which seems to be slowly covering every wall. There's some noticeable water damage on the building too and I'm not sure if these railings are really all that safe. They looked pretty beat up. I love this awning. Whatever they do with this station, I hope this stays!! The area around the station is pretty dead. I can't imagine any type of traffic using these roads on a regular basis. This area needs major updates before it could handle SunRail crowds. I did notice a few new housing developments, albeit very small ones, not too far from here. Just across the train tracks on the north side of New York Ave is this lot. It had some activity on it. IDK what's going on with this site but it would make the most sense for parking and an expansion of the station. On the southern side of the Old New York and on the same side of the tracks as the parcel above is this beauty. This building could easily be preserved and turned into a small cafe or store. Seems like a great place for train passengers to visit. On the same side of the tracks as the station is this biker bar. It was the only thing open in the area. I didn't venture inside as it looked a bit rough. The station does a taxi area. This could easily be used once SunRail comes. I love this park area at the entrance of the station. The gazebo was nice. I hope this greenspace is preserved and improved ahead of SunRail. I really hope they don't destroy this for parking or something.
  5. I was walking around North Quarter on Thursday just before the rain began. At I-4 and Lake Ivanhoe, the beacons are being installed for the I-4 Ultimate. The park in front of the future Holocaust Museum is nice and green despite all the nearby construction. I know the park isn't part of the museum, but I assume the museum's design will take full advantage of the park and the park will see an increase in use. I hope this tree is saved. I'm also curious what will happen to these markers. It looks like some have already been removed. No noticable signs of its pending doom on the building. Such a shame more of this stunning building can't be saved and reused in the new museum. On Orange Ave, the new multi-use trail is coming along. This will really activate this neighborhood. The other side of Orange is already busier than it looks when passing in a car. One thing I noticed while in the area was this massive retention pond between Orange Ave and I-4. From my rough estimates, it's around 2 acres in size. I'd love to see this space reclaimed somehow. My first instinct is a boardwalk with some large sculptures on pedestals. It could also link up with the multi-use trail just on the other side of the train tracks. Thankfully, this amazing retro building was saved. Finally, just across I-4 is a new park. It has no signage on what it's named or anything. But this is where the art piece the City got from I-4 Ultimate is going. The pad is being prepped. Once the piece is installed, I'm really curious how it'll look against the bike bridge behind it when viewed from I-4. Also, speaking of ways to increase park acreage in this area, this section of road is no longer active thanks to I-4. I'd love to see it integrated into the park area next to it. It could allow for a nice size pocket park for this neighborhood. Finally, any hope that we ever get the artwork back on these frames? I loved the retro postcards but there's so many opportunities for art pieces here.
  6. I work not far from this corner. It gets surprisingly busy around lunchtime but many of the spots close early so even at 5 PM it can be hard to find something more than 7-11. I think once Society opens, Livingston will become a popular street. From Creative Village and Bob Carr, past Ace Cafe, and up to Radius. That's a great few blocks. Hopefully, more places will stay open. Especially Dunkin, I need my evening coffee fix!! The next big plot I'm watching in downtown is the Sentinel site. Whatever goes in there will have a big impact on Livingston and Magnolia but I agree that this area is often overlooked but is one of the more vibrant areas in downtown now.
  7. I believe the ones in Maitland have been installed and are operational but many of the others have yet to receive their decorative lighting elements. I hope these aren't budgeted out, I think the visual elements really add something to the communities along the road. The pillars are to feature multiple lighting elements, hopefully they remain well maintained in the coming years as well. There seems to be a lot of little things left along the project. I'm expecting at least another few months to clean up everything. I've noticed the site is prepped for the sculpture in downtown, I believe this is the final piece of large artwork planned for the corridor. Beyond the lighting and landscaping, any other big elements yet to be finished on the project? It should be noted the Beyond the Ultimate looks to have kept the lighted pillars but with a slightly updated design.
  8. Thanks for the link love! I tried my best to nail down some specifics from Ruth's Chris for the piece but they're just not ready to talk. With the HQ in the same complex, I have to assume this will be a flagship location. Casto also declined to share any details on the artwork planned for the complex so take all those sculptures and such in the renderings with a grain of salt. About 20 years ago, just after the complex opened, Casto tried to add a parking garage just north of the Cheesecake Factory building, wrapped with apartments but couldn't ever come to an agreement with the city on the plan. I wouldn't be surprised to see that dusted off if this update proves popular. I'm still sad that the plaza across the street wasn't reworked into an urban village when it was remodeled a few years back. Together, these two could really create a nice urban village for that area.
  9. New Marriott Vacations HQ but a hotel will also be included in it. City Center at O-Town West. A new Zen Hotel and some outparcels also included on that site.
  10. Any idea what will replace Barbarella/I-Bar? That building is really beat up so unless it's another bar I don't see many tenants excited for that space. I kinda hope that entire area gets demo'd and we get a nice new building. Save the Beachem (maybe but honestly it's so beat up I question if its even worth it) but the rest of those buildings could be flattened and I wouldn't mind (even though I've had many fun nights along that block). That property would be a beautiful spot for a new signature tower for downtown. I know a lot of those buildings are from the 1920s and 30s, but just because its old doesn't mean its worth saving. I see the parking lot behind the buildings was sold in 2019 to the South Orange Blosson (sic) Trail Opportunity Land Trust. The other two parcels don't show anything since 2010. The three parcels are just over an acre, not a lot but not that much smaller than the UnionWest footprint in the Creative Village. I'm sure with a nice enough dog and pony show a developer could even buy/lease the City owned property just west of there. The SouthState Bank building just got a new owner so they'd probably be happy to sell/jv a deal for their small garage parcel.
  11. In typical Orlando fashion What's proposed and what actually gets built
  12. The last couple of years has been rough on Cedar Fair. Also, while they give love to their top tier parks, others in the chain don't get nearly the investments they need. I'm no fan of Scott Ross and Hill Path but I have to hand it to them, SeaWorld is actually doing pretty decent these days. Of course, that comes with the issues you raise regarding employee relations (and numerous outsourcing). But the festivals have proven extremely popular and the rides, while not my cup of tea, are decent investments and seem to be generating buzz about the parks. Though as always I must say they could benefit from more family-friendly non-coaster attractions. I think SeaWorld is still a step above Six Flags and all but the highest tier Cedar Fair parks. I'd easily rather spend a day at a SeaWorld park vs Michigan's Adventure or Worlds of Fun. The big upside if this happens is it gives SeaWorld direct access to experienced people with knowledge of operating amusement park hotels and non-amusement park venues (like the sports complex in Sandusky). The HQ move is one of the biggest questions I have. I can see benefits of all three locations but with the new HQ building at SeaWorld Orlando my guess is it would end up there. My gut says this has about a 60% chance of happening but with a slightly higher price tag than what SeaWorld has offered. I'm guessing the end will be a mix of cash and stock but not a lot of stock, just enough to sweeten the deal and keep the amusement fanboys who are unitholders of Cedar Fair happy. I think the combined company better positions both against the increasing presence of Merlin in the U.S. and the deep pockets of Herschend. I do suspect we'll see Six Flags get involved somehow before its all over with, either buying a few of the parks or even selling a few. If it happens what I'll be watching out for is - What name will the water parks use moving forward? Aquatica is my vote but I can see a good argument for Schlitterbahn. IMO that brand needs to die out, just too many skeletons for it. What will the annual pass program look like? I could see something where nearly every level pass comes with at least a few tickets to SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa. That could drive gate at the Florida parks with guests who otherwise may not have visited those parks (and in return may slow growth at other area 3rd/4th day theme park options). What does this mean for the future of the Sesame Street franchise? I suspect we'll see at least a few new Sesame Places using existing water parks, similar to San Diego (which ironically SeaWorld purchased from Cedar Fair). Does this revive the former midway expansion concept that SeaWorld previously floated (pun intended)? Ross has plenty of experience with midway style amusements (with Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters). SeaWorld previously looked into aquariums and other half day style attractions (very similar to Merlin's model). A lot of the Cedar Fair properties would be ideal for these types of offerings, especially if they also lean heavily on adding new hotels. What does this mean for the future of the SeaWorld brand? I could see them retiring the brand completely for something new using an existing or new Cedar Fair park brand. Will they cannibalized any of the existing Cedar Fair parks to increase the flat ride lineup at SeaWorld/Busch Gardens parks?
  13. I think I may be going crazy. I swear there was some mention of Greyhound moving to Garland Ave after the I-4 Ultimate construction is wrapped up. The site is owned by FDOT and the plan was to lease it to Greyhound with an expansion of the Lynx Central Station also on the site. I recall the talks occuring prior to the construction project began so 2013-2014ish. Now I can't find anything about it. Do any of you recall these plans? Any word on if its still in the works? If not, any idea what will happen with that site after the construction wraps up? I'd love to see a larger bus station with stalls for Greyhound, Megabus, and others. A tower could easily be built over the bus station as well, hopefully with some retail (this area severally lacks any good grab-and-go style food options, esp. after 7PM or so).
  14. I'm not sure if this should go here or somewhere else. I'll add my commentary, then cut and paste the press release below. -I'm thinking of the Save-A-lot in Rosemont but it could apply to a lot of the other ones in the area. These sites are great locations in redeveloping communities, I'm curious how interested Ascend would be in switching out the SAL in certain areas for a more upscale option. -The increase in ethnic foods could play into the developing ethnic enclaves we're now seeing in parts of town. Even beyond the most famous ones on 50, there's a budding Little India on OBT near Oak Ridge, a growing presence of Mexican culture in the Zellwood area, and others I'm sure I'm missing. Save A Lot Expands Retail Partnership Throughout Orlando Metropolitan Area as Company Converts Corporate Stores to New Ownership Ascend Grocery, LLC, Takes Over 33 Save A Lot Locations as the Newest Go-To Hometown Grocer ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Save A Lot, one of the largest discount grocery chains in the U.S., today announced the completion in December of the sale of 33 company-owned stores across the greater Orlando area to Ascend Grocery, LLC, as part of the discount grocer’s ongoing efforts to convert corporate-owned stores to local ownership. Ascend Grocery was co-founded and is led by industry veteran Chris Sherrell, founder and former CEO of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and former CEO of Sunflower Farmers Market. Sherrell has built a seasoned team of leaders to drive the business, with a focus on elevating the employee experience and building long-term community partnerships. “It’s an honor to partner with Save A Lot. By combining the brand’s great quality and low prices with our understanding of how to provide superior customer service and an outstanding shopping experience, I believe we can make a real impact for customers in the greater Orlando area,” said Chris Sherrell, CEO of Ascend Grocery, LLC. “Our passion is in serving customers by creating opportunities for employees and in immersing ourselves within the greater community. Having happy employees who take pride in their work leads to customers having the best shopping experience in town.” As part of the conversion, Ascend Grocery will retain the 400 store associates who work at the 33 Save A Lot stores, which will continue serving each neighborhood with an emphasis on convenience and high-quality products at a great value and extraordinary customer service. Stores will also increase their assortment of ethnic and locally sourced food items to better serve customers in meaningful ways, with a focus on providing a wider variety of fresh and quality produce and meats. Beginning this year, all Ascend Grocery stores will undergo a significant remodel to fully reflect Save A Lot’s updated brand image. This will deliver an enhanced shopping environment both inside and outside the stores, including new décor, upgraded flooring and lighting as well as updated produce and meat cases. Giving back and being involved in each community served are also key tenets of Ascend Grocery’s business plan. The company will seek to form new partnerships with food pantries, charities, local associations and other key community organizations that will allow it to do good within the community and help support its customer base. “Ascend Grocery is a world-class, high-caliber team of grocers who will bring an extraordinary level of experience to our stores in Orlando,” said Tim Schroder, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Save A Lot. “Their commitment to serve customers, community and employees, together with Save A Lot’s mission of providing convenient access to high-quality foods, will be a winning combination. I’m confident their continued investment in the Orlando market will lead to a profound impact on how customers enjoy the Save A Lot experience for many years to come.” Solomon Partners served as financial advisor to Save A Lot in connection with the transaction. About Ascend Grocery, LLC Ascend Grocery, LLC (“Ascend Grocery”) was founded by a team of highly successful and experienced grocery and investment executives to acquire and open new Save A Lot Hometown Grocer locations in established and new markets. Ascend Grocery aspires to best serve its customers and communities by providing high quality products, at affordable prices with a superior retail experience. About Save A Lot Founded in 1977, Save A Lot is one of the largest discount grocery store chains in the U.S., with over 900 stores in 32 states. Save A Lot remains true to its mission of being a neighborhood grocer, providing unmatched quality and value to local families. Customers enjoy significant savings compared to traditional grocery stores on great tasting, high quality private label brands, national brand products, USDA-inspected meat, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, and other non-food items. For more information visit www.SaveALot.com and follow Save A Lot on Facebook (facebook.com/savealot) and Instagram (@SaveALotFoodStores). Contacts
  15. Some pics from Creative Village. It looks like EA has moved in. The central park is coming along nicely. The streetscape is some of the nicest in all of Orlando IMO. Still some empty storefronts but I think that'll change soon enough. One thing I'm surprised by is how much greenspace there is in the Creative Village. The area has a lot of underused sections, with large retention ponds and other uses right alongside the large buildings. I'm just surprised more of these areas haven't been better designed for other uses. Even better designed parks would be nice. A lot of empty grass fields right now. I'm not sure if some of these will be developed later on. Also noteworthy is how rough the Bob Carr is looking. It needs some big time TLC. Hopefully something can happen with this space very soon. I'd love to see a new museum of some sort (maybe tech or metaverse focused) go into that space, I think we have plenty of other performing arts venues in town and I've never really been impressed with Bob Carr. I assume the brewery idea is now dead?
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