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AirJay78

Diversity Downtown?

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I hear of all this developement for downtown which is great... however, I do see a problem, a big problem. If we want a nice innovative, cultural, and artistic city, we need to look at the diversity we will bring in. Diversity ethnically as well as economically. Orange county is already one of the most diverse counties in the state, but from what I see, downtown doesn't seem to be refectant of that because as it developes, I don't see it allowing those of lower income (which unfortunetly many are minority like myself) to live and take advantage of this new lifestyle. Prices are so high for these new condos that I am afraid that when all is done, we'll have a city of rich white folks, or the sons of rich white folks. (Hope I don't offend anyne).

For the night life, that is not the case since everyone travels there just for that, but what about those who want to live there and not just party there on the weekend? Will they all be excluded? Can the city come up with a housing subcity program within these big condo projects? I think it would be a great way to introduce those of all backgrounds to downtown orlando. And I'm not insinuating that only minorities are lower income, but lets face it, your hispanic cable guy or african american postman, or even your all around firefighters and EMS people will never be able to live downtown the way it is going. Your thoughts <_< ...................

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I also share the same concerns as I'm sure many of the posters on this forum do. I think the greater problem here is having economic diversity. Undoubtedly cultural diversity is also a major issue but as many young and upwardly mobile minority professionals advance in their careers they will be able to afford to live downtown. This proportion of course will likely not be reflective of Central Florida's demographics but I think in the future you will see a more culturally diverse population downtown. The greater issue IMO is that downtown residents will be comprised exclusively of the upper class. I fear that not only will we not have lower income families sharing residency downtown with the rich, but no middle class downtown either.

So what do we do about it, or better stated, what can we do about it? One solution, although I know incentive aren't popular on this on this forum, is to offer low income housing credits to developers that require a certain portion of the units being developed be set aside for low income and affordable housing in exchange for tax benefits. However, I'm not sure how enthusiastic some developers and buyers will be about having low income families sharing the same building with those who are able to afford multimillion dollar penthouses. Another possible option is to offer incentives to developers on their upscale projects in exchange for promises to develop affordable housing option elsewhere in downtown. For example offering subsidies or incentives to the developers of Ridgely Manor in exchange for a commitment to developing affordable housing uptown or in parramore. And my final proposal, which is probaly the most practical, is to encourage those of us who desire to live downtown but are currently priced out to start buying in Parramore and take upon ourselve the initiative to renovate homes and property in Parramore and revitalize this area one house, one block, one area at a time essentially fueling our own demand in the area and turning Parramore into an affordable option for downtown housing. Of course this approach would also have to done with a conscience appreciation for the history of the area in order to retain cultural diversity downtown. Although Parramore has a certain level of hopelessness currently, if people began to see serious change in that neighborhood, those who really care for thier community would join in the effort to rescuscitate it and the bad elements would be driven out. Just a few ideas I wanted to throw out there, I apologize it's so long winded but I think this issue is vital to having a thriving downtown.

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Condos in general are for rich people, it doesn't matter what city it is. What we need downtown are more rentals so that anyone who wants to live there, can. Hopefully with some of these uptown projects, we will get that.

Cities evolve over time culturally. Orlando is really only at the beginning of that.

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Does anyone have any info on the Carver Court Project in Parramore and what's considered "affordable" and "market rate" housing?

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Look at the lower income areas in any city in America. Without constant support and money from the government, they are turned to crap in a matter of years after any kind of renovation. A prime example is Atlanta and the entire area that was renovated for the Olympics or Baltimore's waterfront.

Hate to break it to you, but if the city wants a nice area, the lower income people aren't going to be living there. They don't keep the area clean, they don't contribute to upkeep and crime is a major problem.

Best idea:

And my final proposal, which is probaly the most practical, is to encourage those of us who desire to live downtown but are currently priced out to start buying in Parramore and take upon ourselve the initiative to renovate homes and property in Parramore and revitalize this area one house, one block, one area at a time essentially fueling our own demand in the area and turning Parramore into an affordable option for downtown housing.

That's the only way it's going to happen. The only problem is the crime. People have a hard time moving in and renovating when they have to worry about crime.

But, look at Winter Park. They are moving along nicely. The more lower income areas are being renovated one by one. It can happen, but I guarentee that it will be done by higher income earners and the lower income people living there will be moved out.

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Does anyone have any info on the Carver Court Project in Parramore and what's considered "affordable" and "market rate" housing?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Afforadable is anything less than $189,000. But that does not mean that the house will sell for that price. From what I hear, they may sell for around $160,000, market and affordable. Affordable means that individuals can qualify for assistance throught the City and other organizations. So, if you are a 25 year old single that makes $30,000 a year, you can qualify. The city has down payment assistance for first time home buyers. Carver Park will not have houses set aside for moderate income earners, jjust low and market rate. But if you are a first time home buyer, and you want to build or buy a house in Parramore, all you have to do as an individual is make less than $45,000 to receive assistance. Contact the City of Orlando's Housing Department for information

Also, I believe that Parramore is the only affordable place to live in the downtown area. The City is taking the right steps in revitalizing the neighborhood, but it is up to individuals buyers to go in and buy/build a house. Especially young professionals without kids. I know I will once I save up enough money.

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AirJay78

I share your concerns, I think this is why Parramore is so important. I think the Hughes project is for 1st time buyers and relatively affordable, also their is a nice 1st time buyer project up by the old colonial plaza and Bumby. It is nice and while it is not downtown per se it is pretty close and a great location. It is 1st class. I would also note how please I was when FAMU chose Orlando for it's Law School. This is a win win, minority law students helping local people get legal advice when they otherwise not be able to afford it. Just one other note, I am not a minority and I make a good living but I could not afford to live downtown either. I met stretch and get 1 bedroom condo, but I would be strapped. The problem with downtown is the prices get driven up by real estate speculators (of all races I presume) I saw a report last night that 25% of americans now hold mortgages on 2 properties. Most are investing in real estate becuase they lost faith in the stock market. The real worry that I have on housing prices is that the middle class is getting squezed out, and that includes guys like me and you... people of all races.

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I agree with Chemmie's assessment, that if a revitalization of Parramore does take hold, the majority of the residents there will be "moved out."

I worry about the backlash this might cause. Obviously, the city can only do so much. Ultimatley, it's up to individual residents to invest in the community and revamp it. That, of course, takes $$. If this starts happening in earnest, you can't help but consider how the current Parramore community would react, as their community would begin to be "taken away" by others. Obviously a delicate matter.

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The problem with downtown is the prices get driven up by real estate speculators (of all races I presume) I saw a report last night that 25% of americans now hold mortgages on 2 properties.  Most are investing in real estate becuase they lost faith in the stock market.  The real worry that I have on housing prices is that the middle class is getting squezed out, and that includes guys like me and you... people of all races.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You are dead right! I could not agree with you more. I am in the same boat as you, not a minority, have a decent job, yet have no chance in he** at being able to afford living dt. While I respect every individuals right to invest their money however they choose, it infuriates me how the real estate market is in essence inflated to artificial levels because of these speculators. Even if these investors weren't buying all these units in droves, I firmly believe the demand would still be greater than the supply, so value would increase naturally. But the investors are in effect artificially reducing the supply (artificially because they are just going to turn around and resell right away), which leads to excessively inflated prices. It's a catch 22 - it's fair, but yet it isn't.

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For every certain amount of luxury condos or houses being built, the developer are required to built particular amount of low cost condos or housing in the same area (separate buildings) . This will help.

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This is a great topic as i share all of your concerns. I agree that it is highly unlikely you will ever see lower income and higher income residents intermingled downtown. As far as Parramore goes. alot of you do not want to see a gentrification of this area but undoubtedly this is going to happen. Also, you will never see alot of rental apartments downtown either and if you do they are going to be at least $700-$800 dollars for a shoebox apartment in the sky and up to over $2000 dollars a month for a penthouse type apartment. You dont believe me, just wait until Ivanhoe (high rise), Camden Court (low rise), Orlando Palace (the rental portion-high rise), Dynetech Center (rental portion-high rise) and any other future rental community opens. You may be able to swing a good deal the first lease but it will inflate whenb you renew. I am a caucasian firefighter/paramedic and i want to not only live downtown but to one day be able to afford to BUY there but am currently priced out. I hate to think that downtown is going to become a rich, snobby, older demographic that is no longer fun to hang out in. Believe me, this is a big possibilty and i dont think anybody here is naive enough to believe that there will be low rent apartments or section 8 housing downtown (CBD,Uptown,Eola). However you may find some parts of Parramore or S. Parramore near Gore that redevelop into something like that but not around rich, trendy, affluent (snobby) high income earning people. I dont really know what the solution is, but i think it would be close to what OCF stated as the most possible practical solution. Here is a classic example of downtown redevelopment as what is occuring in the westside of downtown Winter Park- the old ghetto that was over near Morse Blvd and West Canton and the 8 square block area around it, is almost non existant today as big money poured in there over the last 5 years causing the displacement of alot of lower income people which were primarily African-American descent and now you see multiple offices, retail and places like Dexters Cafe sprouting up. I don't know where all those people went but they were essentially bought out of the area by thier greedy landlords selling to loaded companies and individuals. There are a few minorities remaining in the area and it is only a matter of time before they are gone. Another example is in Harlem(Manhattan Borough-NYC) as big money is going in there and poor people are being swept away. I don't know what the solution is and I think this is more complex than just offering some incentives to minority individuals or companies to take an interest in minorities. It is obviously a Socio-economic problem facing alot of communities.

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I think this issue like already stated deals with a bigger picture than the rich buying out where the poor are. First the racial problem is the fact that minorities ARE the low income residents, and not that rich white people will be the only residents. If minorities made up a bigger percentage of rich people, we would not consider race. Again, this race issue is a problem that Orlando cannot solve as a city. On that note whoever said that Orlando's issue deals with a pure economic class structure is more on target. What could maybe be controlled is that the rich do not move out the poor. Again, we as a community could push to keep Parramore as it once was, with it's low income residents. We could also build up the area and make it prosper. The situation is tough. I know that I'd rather see it prosper. I have driven through Parramore a few times. You will likely be offered crack while stopped at a stop light or stop sign. The area is, sorry to say, "trashy" and needs to be cleaned up. For the law abiding low income families, this is unfortunate. Oh, whoever thinks Parramore isn't that bad hasn't been there at night. Someone I know once lived at a halfway house in the area and knows it well!

One more thing, why don't low-income families keep their houses clean and decent looking? Just to stir some thought, maybe there is a correlation between some people being lazy and being low-income. I know this doesn't speak for every case. Just a thought

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I wish i had the data but i would wager that Parramore is mostly renters paying to Slumlords who dont care about getting onto thier tenants or taking initiative to keep up thier properties. With that being said, i agree this is a economic class problem and not just a racial problem. One thing that could help is that you redevelop with what is occurring in NYC with rent controlled properties (alot being high rises) and strict rules on upkeep and security guards. That would help start a prosperous future for Parramore. And as i stated a month or so ago that the oppurtunity is now to buy in Parramore if you can because this neighborhood or part of it will be like Thornton Park in less than 10 years. Is it a gamble.....sure but the same would be or was said to many blighted areas in the past that redeveloped into trendy areas such as Thornton Park.

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Wouldnt that be an incentives for those people to go to college and make more money so they can come back?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Exactly, that is a a real good start.

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I wish i had the data but i would wager that Parramore is mostly renters paying to Slumlords who dont care about getting onto thier tenants or taking initiative to keep up thier properties. With that being said, i agree this is a economic class problem and not just a racial problem. One thing that could help is that you redevelop with what is occurring in NYC with rent controlled properties (alot being high rises) and strict rules on upkeep and security guards. That would help start a prosperous future for Parramore. And as i stated a month or so ago that the oppurtunity is now to buy in Parramore if you can because this neighborhood or part of it will be like Thornton Park in less than 10 years. Is it a gamble.....sure but the same would be or was said to many blighted areas in the past that redeveloped into trendy areas such as Thornton Park.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

15-20% of the residents in Parramore are homeowners. And the median salary is around $14,000. If the area improves, the residents will be replaced. There is no other way around it. The only question is, how many residents will be replaced?

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^^ wow, $14,000 median salary is astonishing! very sad.

in response to firemick's point about now being the time to invest in Parramore, i wholeheartedly agree. However, I don't want to just be an investor, I want to be a homeowner... and unfortunately, in all truth, I wouldn't feel comfortable living in Parramore at this point in time.

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Wow this thread has been highly insightful and highly encouraging as to the desire and enthusiasm to revitalize Parramore, now how do we transfer it into action? Another suggestion extending from my earlier stated "practical" proposal is to renovate the existing Citrus Bowl into a world class facility and also place a Police substation midway between Police headquarters and the Citrus bowl on Church Street. Renovating the Citrus Bowl would encourage commercial and entertainment developments around the immediate area and hopefully encourage more residential investors to the area. Placing a Police substation on W. Church with foot patrols would possibly alleviate the apprehension of some potential investors enough for them to consider redeveloping the properties adjacent to the station. My hope is that with the slow spread of redevelopment around the Citrus bowl, the midpoint Police substation and the City View/Hughs Supply areas would eventually merge and create a main thoroughfare that would ignite the redevelopment of the rest of Parramore.

Just to add on to some of the other responses. It's true that the majority of Parramore is low income tenants renting from slumlords who have no concern for the properties or the neighborhood and therein lies the biggest problem. I would think that this highly discourages the 20% of homeowners in the area from keeping up their properties as they feel they are fighting a losing battle. But I would be willing to bet that if they saw encouraging signs of positive development alot of these homeowners would be willing to reinvest in their own properties, especially those who have firm roots in the community. There are probaly also people who grew up in Parramore, children of the current homeowners who probaly left for the suburbs seeking a safer environment and leaving their parents behind in the homes they grew up in. Some of these people would probaly return to reinvest in the place they grew up in if they saw any hope in the area. I think thats one way the area would retain it's cultural heritage.

I guess this response would have been better placed in the revitalize Parramore thread, but again I've been so long winded that I don't want to retype it again.

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And as i stated a month or so ago that the oppurtunity is now to buy in Parramore

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Any idea what current land values are in Parramore? Any agents out there with listings/data? I agree that Parramore is going to be revitalized - it's just a matter of when.

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Nothings new under the sun. The current conditions of Parramore are very similar to those of Springfield (just north of downtown Jax) in the late 1990's. The only way to turn these types of communities around is for urban pioneers to take the risk to invest in them, block-by-block, along with the city's assistance.

What type of assistance is needed from the city? The re-zoning of land to restrict the incompatitable land uses (warehouses, auto repair shops, homeless shelters), originally allowed in the Jim Crow era, that helped bring the area to its knees today.

A re-focused effort on the part of the police department to crack down on crime is another. Offering tax breaks or incentives for people who wish to live closer to downtown, for affordable prices, is another way. More maintained space for parks and recreation is a must, as well. Well lit streets, like those in Thorton Park, would be a nice amenity too.

As you can see, I'm listing things that can be easily achieved, if any effort were put into it. These things don't require years of planning, lots of money or some giant developer to swoop down and build an arena, mega mall or soccer stadium. All it takes is a group of regular residents with vision and a little city cooperation. Its working in Springfield (some old houses worth $30k back in 2000 are now selling for over $300k), its worked in other places, as well, so it should work for Parramore too.

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OPD is putting a station in City View sometime soon. Probably in the next two months. OPD has also hired additional officers just to patrol Parramore. The only problem is that it takes almost a year for the officers to be hired and trained.

The City is pretty adament about not rezoning Parramore. The current industrial users are probably grandfathered in and will not be going any where anytime soon.

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Nothings new under the sun.  The current conditions of Parramore are very similar to those of Springfield (just north of downtown Jax) in the late 1990's.  The only way to turn these types of communities around is for urban pioneers to take the risk to invest in them, block-by-block, along with the city's assistance. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Lakelander, when this ocurred in Springfield, where did the residents who living there at the time go? Did they move on to somwhere else or just disperse? I'm just curious as to the social impact in this trype of scenario.

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The City is pretty adament about not rezoning Parramore. The current industrial users are probably grandfathered in and will not be going any where anytime soon.

^Well then its a lost cause and the city will just continue to throw more money down the drain, chasing after solutions and implementing ideas that, in the long run, won't work. Seriously, does anyone think there's room in this community, for numerous homeless shelters and high levels of drug activity to continue to exist, along side potential high density mixed-use urban infill? Rezoning is a free expense that no one seems to be considering. Its not the answer to Parramore's problems, but it would be a big start, that would lead to other improvements.

When Jax, rezoned Springfield, many of these businesses, halfway houses, seedy strip clubs and bars were grandfathered in too. However, over time most businesses tend to change ownership, close or relocate. When this happens, new owners can't come in to the residential community with the same crap, because of the revised zoning codes. The rezoning also helped with urban infill, by getting rid of building setback and parking requirements, two big contributing factors catering to Florida's suburban atmosphere.

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The commercial buildings are a problem, but not as much as the homeless shelters. One provider has already relocated and hopefully the others will follow. The industrial uses will not be that much of a problem. Once the neighborhood picks up, they will be very willing to sell their property for the right price. Most of Parramore is owned by a handful of guys.

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