Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
spenser1058

About Those Rooftops...

26 posts in this topic

As we enter the fifth year since the last major retail component came to downtown Orlando, we keep being told that we have to just wait for more people to move in, that there simply isn't a population to support anything but growth of 7-Elevens and bars, the explosion of which we haven't seen anything like since Tribbles first appeared on the Starship Enterprise. I have explained in other posts that my contention is a lack of focus on the #1 issue facing downtown, starting at City Hall with a DDB staff that, while well intentioned, simply does not have the requirements for the job. 

 

But, just for the sake of argument, let's count some rooftops. Recently, the folks at Orlando 2.0 noted those Sunbelt cities that DO have significant retail downtown. So I thought I'd do a little research. Downtown Austin must be OVERFLOWING with residents, putting poor, pitiful downtown Orlando to shame (after all, EVERYTHING'S bigger in Texas, right?) So, to the numbers!

 

Population Downtown Austin:   9,800

Population Orlando ZIP Code 32801: 10,406 (please note that does not include parts of North Eola, Uptown/Midtown/North Quarter/Whatever the Name Is This Week, and some areas east of Summerlin that would be directly affected by downtown retail).

 

Now, surely Austin, with that piddly little population, can't have any retail to speak of. After all, there aren't even as many people living downtown as we have. Gosh, all we poor Orlando burghers want is a bike store or a drug store, maybe a hardware store. But, alas, there's just not enough people. Surely, Austin can't have anything like that. Perhaps not, I still have to do some more research. But one thing I did find (because it's near and dear to my preppy little heart.) Dang, there's a Brooks Brothers! Yessiree, doggies, upscale retail in a downtown even smaller than ours. And, as we all know, a store like Brooks Brothers wouldn't just plop down all by its lonesome.

 

So we now know this rule about rooftops is not some Newtonian law of physics that simply is unbreakable in the universe as we know it. No, my friends, it demonstrates that if we have the will, we could solve the #1 problem facing downtown Orlando today. If we had the professionalism of the Downtown Austin Alliance (compare their incentive program for retail to the poor excuse for one Orlando has that even DDB head Thomas Chatmon admits he can't find a taker for), the outcome might be different. I have proposed possible solutions before. Simply put, there is no will. Five years is too long without progress. This CAN be changed but settling for a sea of 7-Elevens is not the answer. Assuming that developers with no particular expertise in retail will do the "right thing" when they've already been reallocating retail spaces to residential or law offices is not the answer. I might add that hiring as an "Executive Director" (for an organization without so much as a website) whose entire experience is as an aide to Gov. Rick Scott is not the answer. 

 

Let's demand someone who knows retail, who can engineer incentives that will actually work and institute a timetable with deadlines to achieve at least some success. Five years is too long. 

 

Thank you and may all of us look forward to our first stroll in Orlando's new retail destination soon!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


You sound like Dyer is sitting outside City Hall telling a long line of businesses to take their retail to the burbs.

Do you know something that we don't?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not at all. We have a specific market failure downtown that no one is attempting to remedy. Recently, we keep hearing the mantra about "not enough rooftops" even though we know downtown has had much more retail with even fewer residents in a variety of decades. And, as demonstrated in Austin, the "rooftops" rule is hardly an immutable law of nature despite the way it is constantly presented. We are told patience is in order, after five years without a change in retail (in fact it's gotten worse.) 

 

Interestingly, Orlando 2.0 popped up in the Sentinel, although it seems to be a bit of an ersatz organization so far (I'm reminded of Mike Thomas' highlighting a few years back of a fellow who was going to annex all of East Orange into a city- bigger than Orlando! - you may have noticed that region some years later remains unincorporated). But, at least it shows frustration and interest is on the rise with others than the old-timers among us, which is good. The only problem is, what we have seen of their proposed solutions so far just moves us in the same wrong direction that has led to failure so far.

 

It's time to think out of the box, which is what I and others are proposing. What's vital is that now is the time to address the issue as development is underway and as the East Colonial corridor is in transition. Buddy has done many things during his time in office and I've been happy to support him with contributions, campaign work and research projects over a number of years. I'd be pleased to support him as a candidate for governor. But in his third term, which have historically been cursed for Orlando mayors since just about anyone can remember, the downtown retail problem is clearly not something he's interested in. With a possible election coming up in 2014 due to his ambitions, it's vital to keep this on the front burner as others make their plans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You forget about Downtown Austin has a large university.

 

13th street or University blvd in Gainesville is very life-ly too for a small city. Why? UF...

 

And DDB doesnt really do much in Orlando...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would not only look at residents in Austin as a comparison. Rooftops is not a hard and fast rule. Existing market share is more important. How many cities our size has a Florida Mall, Millenia, two major outlet malls, and smaller malls and shopping center scattered around. Without knowing the details for Austin, I would assume they do not have the surrounding competition that we do. So they become a destination which we are not there yet. Would more retail help? Yes. But some of the traditional retail that has failed scares away potential investment. 

 

We need to focus on retail that could be supported by existing residents. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't disagree with your sentiment about wanting more retail downtown, but....

 

I think the fact that we are just now beginning to emerge from one of the worst economic disasters since the Great Depression might have a little more to do with the lack of new retail development in the downtown core in the past five years rather than any planning (or lack thereof) at City Hall. Quite frankly, I'm surprised that the Plaza Cineplex, most of the restaurants therein, and the Publix on Central weren't shuttered during the free fall.

 

Now that we seem to be on the upswing, what do we do to foster new retail development? I think we need to take advantage of our unique strengths. We have a downtown core that is surrounding by vibrant downtown neighborhoods with healthy retail scenes of their own - College Park, Mills 50, Uptown, Eola, Thornton Park, Colonial Town, etc.

 

it doesn't make sense for the core to compete with the surrounding neighborhoods for certain type of retail (especially traditional retail like your standard big box stores or department stores that already struggling) just for the sake of having something in the core. I think there needs a mix of day-to-day service retail (drug stores, fast food restaurants, dry cleaners, etc.) and destination retail (something that draws people from outside the core).



Also, I think we need to better connect the core to some of the surrounding neighborhoods. The Lymmo expansion is a good start. People who live downtown (in the core) should be able to get to Mills 50/Fashion Square/Lake Ivanhoe Village quickly and easily -- without a car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over a variety of decades, retail did exist downtown, most recently, the 1990s Church Street Market era. Back then, tourists and non-downtown locals alike were coming downtown and were spending their money. There was a market for retail specifically due to this influx of people and the entertainment draw. It had little to nothing to do with the presence of a downtown residential population.  I suspect the same is true for Austin, which has a heavy non-residential flow of people.

 

I don't think we need to delve too far back in history, to when actual department stores existed in downtown Orlando, because this is literal history, both in Orlando and in most cities.

 

What does this say to me?  Two things really.

 

1)  If you get the tourists back downtown, you'll get non-basic service type retail such as clothing stores, chains, etc.  Your mall-style retail will thrive.

2)  Rooftops actually do matter.  Thousands of residents coming to the core creates demand.  Demand for what exactly?  Basic services.  This is the type of retail we will see on the horizon. I don't expect a Zara downtown anytime soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Praha, both you and sunshine are both exactly right about the mitigating factors that drive retail. What your examples demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt is that other factors often trump rooftops in allocating it. A college? See University of Texas (or Rollins for that matter). A convention center? See the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. State capitals also have helped in some cases. 

 

The truth is counting rooftops makes sense when you have an area, like Deltona, where there is no reason anyone would be there unless they lived there (Deltona is the poster child of "there's no there there"). To say downtown Orlando must rely on the 10000 current residents, ignoring the additional 50000 people who work there and all the people who are there going to church, partying, attending festivals at Eola (any of which eclipses the actual population) would be absurd.

 

And, there are other examples. Baldwin Park really has a population so great that it can support a CVS but downtown (with towers full of seniors on Medicare Part D) cannot? Hmmmm? Downtown Winter Garden really has such a greater population than downtown /Thornton Park/Lawsona/Parramore that it can support THREE bike shops but downtown can't support one. No. Other things are at play. As the Sales and Marketing Executives like to say, "Nothing Happens Until Someone Sells Something." There is no one selling downtown. Sunshine is so right that DDB is useless in that regard. Isn't it odd though that The Downtown Austin Alliance, however, is all over selling their central city, with all kinds of assistance and incentive programs. 

 

The bottom line: why is there this insistence on accepting a suboptimal status quo that has seen zero movement for almost five years? If Lynx and SunRail decided to just do nothing for 5 years and "wait for rooftops," this room would explode in a frenzy of indignation. Color me confused.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I would not only look at residents in Austin as a comparison. Rooftops is not a hard and fast rule. Existing market share is more important. How many cities our size has a Florida Mall, Millenia, two major outlet malls, and smaller malls and shopping center scattered around. Without knowing the details for Austin, I would assume they do not have the surrounding competition that we do. So they become a destination which we are not there yet. Would more retail help? Yes. But some of the traditional retail that has failed scares away potential investment. 

 

We need to focus on retail that could be supported by existing residents. 

Every situation is unique... the major malls obviously receive major support from our being a top tourist destination. And the smaller, scattered malls in our suburbs likely were from the fact that parts were too far with Orlando's traffic, along with many locals not wanting to shop at malls that were predominantly for tourists and seemed to be geared as such. But they were overbuilt. Many of them aren't doing too well. When people look at the success stories, and see that others think its a good idea, they think me too.

 

The solution for downtown isn't wait for rooftops, its going to have to be for someone to be willing to take the risk, be successful at it, and once we see that happen, you're going to see a ton of people want to try to copy, getting a nice variety of stores. Getting tourists downtown would solve the problem as well. Perhaps the easiest solution could be to try to mandate something like the Magic/RDV entertainment center (which is basically already going to be subsidized) have some retail components as well to at least start small, and at a hopeful city destination for outsiders in addition to the folks living downtown (although, admittedly, it wouldn't be my first choice for placement). Getting it started is always the hardest part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As much as I would like to see city developed by itself over period of time, I really dont have 100 years to wait for it. Cities that developed over time are tend to be cities that are rich in history and architecture. Orlando will never be that kind of city.

 

We have wait long enough for Orlando to develop itself and the results are what we have now.  Why do we even have a Downtown Development Board if all they do is wait for someone to knock on their door. They need to market downtown and speed everything up.

 

Big projects are what create a city core........for example West Palm Beach city centre, Midtown Miami, Atlantic Station in Atlanta, that huge retails mall in the center of Salt Lake City and to an extend Downtown Disney and City Walk. Although the last two are for tourists, they achieved their goals to create a "center"  for people to gather.

 

Granted Orlando has the three major projects of the arena, DPAC and Citrus bowl. Developers are not knocking on the door to build anything. We have not seen anything being built at the creative village side either. 20 years timeline is too long for a project. Even if retailers want to come downtown, we do not have retails spaces ready for them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The lack of space is an issue. I worked on a CVS and had a heck of the time looking for available space. 

 

Chains are nice but they generally do not take risk. Locals are better suited but generally are under capitalized or do not have the know how. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We can also look at the current mix of businesses in retail spaces in Downtown Orlando - Bars and Restaurants for the most part.  They skew the rental rates upward in old building stock, and new construction is looking to recoup on their investment. It's difficult for a newly forming or small/local retail business - even without the shift to online buying or economic slump - to pay these market rates.

Mad Cow Theatre - not retail, but a 15-year old Downtown Business (and nonprofit) moved into a heavily subsidized space last year because they couldn't sustain paying the market rate on their old location.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of those who have been making great contributions to the discussion during the Great Retail Rant of 2012-13.

 

Several of us old-timers who first discussed the downtown we wanted to see as part of Mayor Bill's first run for mayor (when he himself ranted about downtown having become little more than a "run down gay bar and a bunch of wig shops") thought there was nowhere to go but up back then. After all, in 1983, there were still dime stores, drug stores and even a department store downtown (JC Penney). Rosie's was in full flower and Bob Snow was talking about a major expansion. We thought all we had to do was act like the folks in San Francisco and get the gay boys and girls to buy up fixer uppers in Eola Heights, South Eola and Lawsona (Thornton Park didn't have a name yet). In fact, we succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings (Mayor Bill even acknowledged the affect we had, even though he was far from a homophile.) The City did its part - it was Mayor Bill who brought William Whyte to town and began the "vision" for downtown - little things like making sure a pedestrian plaza was included in Barnett Plaza (now Seaside) and that the Atlantic Bank Building (now Wells Fargo) was angled diagonally to break up the monotony of the Orange/Central intersection. And, of course, the swans at Eola and using the bully pulpit to try to make sure there was a "water feature" included with each new building and requiring something besides a flat roop on top of highrises (sadly, Murphy's Law kicked in and developers went cheap with visors to get around the requirement, but oh well).

 

The crowning achievement was the city rewriting the zoning laws to preserve the intown neighborhoods that made Orlando special. We would not be like Atlanta and Nashville and Jacksonville and so many other cities that had destroyed our downtowns to "save" them (in retrospect, the only folks who thought they were saving them were those making money off the destruction.)

 

As things moved along, the towers got higher and we even got more shopping on Church Street.

 

But then, there was an odd flip-flop. As more bars came in and people started moving back downtown, we started losing all our retail. A lot of that had nothing to do with downtown's weaknesses. The owners of the drug stores started to retire and die, dime stores ceased to exist nationwide and, even though Ivey's, Sears and Penney's were profitable until the day they closed, department stores decided by the mid-80's that they only wanted mall stores. (Of course, that's supremely ironic given that all but the upscale department stores are now dying to get out of their malls.) We know, however, that just as "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" in the 70s, and just as GE and other manufacturers recently admitted a lot of offshoring to China was simply a fad that the fundamentals never justified, so too did the decision of retailers to just abandon downtown in the 80's and 90's wasn't required due to some immutable law of economics - it was just another trend.

 

When we first got wind of what was up with the Fashion Square redo, we went into panic mode. That, of course has probably been obvious based on some of my posts. It's critical to thank forum posters like Jack who, having been in the trenches, noted what seems to be going wrong in the process. Sunshine made the vital point very similar to Lord Keynes that, "in the long run, we're all dead" and that we don't necessarily want to wait forever to change things. Praha compared what was happening to our downtown with efforts in other places and smileguy wisely noted that all the bars were crowding out potential retail and making it too expensive.

 

As you know, another group, Orlando 2.0, has also entered into the mix. They are a more business-oriented group than the folks I tend to work with but we have the same goal. I can now report that our rants have actually reached City Hall - I got a call from an aide to one of our commisioners yesterday to acknowledge the issue is on the radar screen at long last. 

 

None of this would have been possible without you guys and again my sincerest thanks for your thoughts. There are several I haven't mentioned since I've run long (again), but each of you has been so vital to the impact this forum has with the powers that be that you may take a lot of pride in what you've done. Thanks again!

Edited by spenser1058

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

spencer, to be clear (I thought I was, but I can see now that I wasn't), I am not suggesting that government does not play a role in bringing retail downtown. I absolutely believe this to be true, and am encouraged to hear that City Hall is taking notice of our little forum here. City Hall needs to be a big part of this solution, ESPECIALLY now that there will be an influx of apartment dwellers who will at very least need basic services. I do not think these basic services will simply materialize due to new residents downtown; we somehow need to make retailers aware of what is happening in downtown so that they can be encouraged to participate in this revival effort. Perhaps City Hall can have a downtown forum to bring attention to the potential retail market.

 

That said, I do not think that we can boost up downtown at the expense of the Fashion Square. These two areas can simulatenously thrive and create a more vibrant downtown area. Fashion Square can be redeveloped into an open air concept, including dense apartment style living, and we can make Lymmo connections from downtown via Robinson / Maguire to Baldwin Park via the Fashion Square. I would like to think more broadly (geographically) at this issue, and it's potential solution.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

spencer, to be clear (I thought I was, but I can see now that I wasn't), I am not suggesting that government does not play a role in bringing retail downtown. I absolutely believe this to be true, and am encouraged to hear that City Hall is taking notice of our little forum here. City Hall needs to be a big part of this solution, ESPECIALLY now that there will be an influx of apartment dwellers who will at very least need basic services. I do not think these basic services will simply materialize due to new residents downtown; we somehow need to make retailers aware of what is happening in downtown so that they can be encouraged to participate in this revival effort. Perhaps City Hall can have a downtown forum to bring attention to the potential retail market.

 

That said, I do not think that we can boost up downtown at the expense of the Fashion Square. These two areas can simulatenously thrive and create a more vibrant downtown area. Fashion Square can be redeveloped into an open air concept, including dense apartment style living, and we can make Lymmo connections from downtown via Robinson / Maguire to Baldwin Park via the Fashion Square. I would like to think more broadly (geographically) at this issue, and it's potential solution.

 

 

I don't understand the freak out about a redeveloped Fashion Square. What would be an alternative? Let it remain a blight on the surrounding neighborhoods (which many of us consider downtown neighborhoods)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


From the Sentinel... a couple updates on the mall.

"In a lot of ... cases, neighborhoods start to deteriorate, and the shopping centers fall off. I think the opposite is probably true here," Scott Fish, a principal with UP Development.said. "The shopping center has hurt the neighborhood. We're going to try to stabilize it."

 

Also, 

"On an additional eight acres on Herndon south of the Cady Way Trail, 250 apartments are planned, Fish said."

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's the thing - we know that, left to their own devices, the retail industry will do like most and take the path of least resistance (someone sitting in Manhattan or Plano, Texas making decisions about where to put a store obviously could care less about the issues in Orlando - she just wants to make the quickest, most profitable decision - why reinvent the wheel?).  We also know that, as has been pointed out by others on this board, online shopping is going to radically change the placement of brick and mortar stores going forward. 

 

What we don't know, then, is how to make sure downtown gets its fair share of what retail there will be to go around. If Fashion Square is repurposed by a developer whose background is strip malls and big boxes, there is no reason to suppose that what we'll get is anything different than what came before (in fact, in the bit of news trickling out so far, we're already hearing about outparcels and all the usual types of things associated with the type of development we've seen since the 1950's.  

 

What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing if you like that model. In fact, we've been here before. Glenda and the City gave $1 million to Cousins Development to repurpose Colonial Plaza. At least the preceding mall it replaced took people out of their cars. The power center that replaced it turned it into a facility that absolutely no one in their right mind would want to walk around. The vaunted Winter Park Village that replaced WP Mall? It's certainly more decorative, but you still won't see anyone walking to get there other than the handful of apartments created in the old Ivey's and the folks across Denning whose income profile probably doesn't make a good match for the retail there.

 

Downtown Orlando already has people walking around, even though there's no place to shop! You don't have to create an ersatz pedestrian environment like Casselberry and Winter Springs and Altamonte have tried to do - it already exists.

 

So, if there is likely a scarcity of retail in our future, and, if you regard retail as not only a requirement to live but also something people like to do (the concept of the marketplace is, after all, one of the oldest in human society), and if you want to ensure there is some shopping where, to quote Ross Perot, "a giant sucking sound" took it all away just a few years ago, then now is the time to fight for what you want.

 

What's the answer for Fashion Square? We could level it all and make a wonderful trailhead for the Cady Way Trail and solve the perpetual problem Parks & Rec has of not enough softball fields. I'm kidding, of course, but if you read the story in today's OBJ they want to use Thornton Park's residents as part of their market area. (Frankly the idea that Baldwin Park folks are going to shop at the mid-level stores they are likely to put in the new mall/lifestyle center/big box power center whatever is laughable - those folks are going to Millenia or Park Avenue and they ain't coming back - that's one reason the mall died in the first place.) It's clear the two districts are too close to each other to coexist in the smaller retail universe of the 21st century.

 

As I posted in an article a few weeks ago, this is not unique to us. The mayor of Tampa addressed exactly the same problem taking place in their downtown vs. Westshore. On the Nashville Forum, they've talked about the same problem in their downtown vs. Green Hills. Someone noted Atlanta and Atlantic Station - even as large a metro as Atlanta is and as successful as Atlantic Station is, they still relatively limited retail (and Atlantic Station ain't downtown - it's beyond midtown).

 

I'll be honest - if the suburban sprawl engendered by East Colonial Drive retail is moved to downtown to create an honest to goodness urban core that requires no automobile, those who are displaced have dozens of alternatives (and, in fact, they are no worse off than those of us downtown have been for years if they stay put.) If, however, downtown is sacrificed for yet another autocentric zone as it has been for the past 50 years, what is Plan B? There is none in central Florida. This is an existential dilemma. 

 

I cannot fathom why anyone would want to save the disaster that is East Colonial Drive east of Bumby at the expense of a fully functioning downtown, even though I once worked at Ivey's in Colonial Plaza and I went to Fashion Square on opening day in July, 1973 (Sears predated the mall.) But that is just me, I'm the first to admit, and as the folks at City Hall discovered, a pretty good-sized group of others. Those who like 50 as it is (and one also has to ask the question, how much better will it ever become with OEA there, and the movers and shakers in their Gulfstreams aren't likely to give that up in my lifetime) can certainly make their case just as we are making ours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying to temper my response because I know you mean well.

But for those of us who live in Colonialtown (near the disaster that is Colonial east of Bumby), the mall is a drag on the neighborhood. A re-do will benefit the surrounding neighborhoods and all of downtown. It's a good thing.

It's also a gateway to the core, so it would be kind of nice if it didn't fall into as bad of a state of disrepair as West Colonial.

Edited by FLClarkKent

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought the land that Fahions Square mall sat on is just a lease. Ideally, it would be good to level the entire thing and change it into a center park since the traffic there is rather horrible. But that's not gonna happend.  If they in fact would consider leveling the place, I hope they would model it after Midtown Miami.

 

About these rooftops.....

 

I think besides having people that actually live downtown, we needs jobs downtown. Most people I know that live downtown are either lawyers or realtors...and plenty work in the burbs.

It is time to bring back the office towers!

 

I am not an expert in how to get retails back in downtown, but it should not be that difficult. Just look at Winter Park.....I would think we have more people in downtown Orlando than Winter park...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the first question to ask is "What kind of retail do we want to bring to the downtown core?"

 

With all of this hullabaloo on the board about the revitalization of Fashion Square, I am assuming that some want to see mainline, traditional "mall type" retail stores set up shop in downtown. A Gap or an Express or department store like Macy's. If that's the goal, is it a realistic one? (I'm not sure that it is, given the state of this segment of the retail industry...but would love to hear other opinions). Would it be good for the downtown core? Is it going to meet the needs of the residents in the core? Would it bring people from outside the core into the core (Not sure that it would, considering all the options around the metro and the history of this type of retail in downtown [Church Street Exchange and on Park Avenue in Winter Park... most of the chains left the avenue years ago]).

 

What about big box retail? That's a different beast. Is it possible in an urban setting?

 

What about "destination" retail? The types of stores that people would drive a long distance in which to shop (Trader Joe's, an Apple store (wouldn't that be something to see downtown), an Ikea-type store, etc.). It seems to me that these would be more likely to thrive downtown, and serve as a catalyst for additional retail development.

 

What about boutique, high-end? How would that work downtown? And what about everyday services like dry cleaners, drug stores, event fast food joints? Are those more important, or would they follow some other type of development?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the first question to ask is "What kind of retail do we want to bring to the downtown core?"

 

With all of this hullabaloo on the board about the revitalization of Fashion Square, I am assuming that some want to see mainline, traditional "mall type" retail stores set up shop in downtown. A Gap or an Express or department store like Macy's. If that's the goal, is it a realistic one? (I'm not sure that it is, given the state of this segment of the retail industry...but would love to hear other opinions). Would it be good for the downtown core? Is it going to meet the needs of the residents in the core? Would it bring people from outside the core into the core (Not sure that it would, considering all the options around the metro and the history of this type of retail in downtown [Church Street Exchange and on Park Avenue in Winter Park... most of the chains left the avenue years ago]).

 

What about big box retail? That's a different beast. Is it possible in an urban setting?

 

What about "destination" retail? The types of stores that people would drive a long distance in which to shop (Trader Joe's, an Apple store (wouldn't that be something to see downtown), an Ikea-type store, etc.). It seems to me that these would be more likely to thrive downtown, and serve as a catalyst for additional retail development.

 

What about boutique, high-end? How would that work downtown? And what about everyday services like dry cleaners, drug stores, event fast food joints? Are those more important, or would they follow some other type of development?

 

I dont see any of this happening downtown.  Hate to say because it would be great but this will not happen for the same reason The Capital Grill is on I Drive (as opposed to downtown like similar cities) and Apple is at Millenia.  

 

In my opinion, the future of downtown was dictated when UCF was built in E Orlando and the convention ctr was constructed south of downtown.  Even the new trains linking Orlando to other Florida city centers is dropping potential dollars away from downtown.  The largest masses of money spenders are/were shifted in different directions - away from downtown core.  Sure a few office towers and a some new condos will help but no chain in their right mind would give up the lucrative tourist areas for a few resident dreams.   

 

I've come to realize that we will most likely never be an Austin or even Charlotte as both metros are centered around their downtown.  We have several "downtowns" and money is split.  

 

I wish downtown Orlando would take a different and more organic approach to solve the retail problem.  Instead of competing dead on with malls & tourist areas maybe downtown should come up with their "own" concept.  I've always thought a city center food market place (think Vietnam or Singapore) where one could visit stands/restaurants and purchase authentic international foods could be a draw. This could be a force to get some of those dollars strolling downtown once again.    

 

How great would it be if Church Street Station became Orlando's version of Faneuil Hall? 

 

If something like this were to happen and be well executed, both tourists and residents alike would have a reason to come downtown.  

 

Retail will follow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, I have to offer my sincerest apologies to FLClarkKent. If my style (alas, as a former debater and oppo prep for politicians) seemed a personal attack, then I have erred grievously and I was wrong to do so. As one of our regular posters, I like your contributions and look forward to them.

 

FLCK, you note you live in Colonialtown. Of course, I don't know exactly which part but I think you would not lose anything with a shift of retail westward to downtown. Colonial Plaza and Coytown aren't going anywhere (although I do wonder about the impending fate of B&N and someone at Winn-Dixie really needs to do something about that store that has been virtually untouched since the Carter administration.) If my plan were successful, any retail you lose at Fashion Square would be replaced downtown or in Uptown, so the only difference would be the direction you'd go to get there.

 

Let me also add kudos for everything that Colonialtown has achieved in these last few years. Whether it's Mills 50 (including the Birkenstock district, ViMi, or Little Saigon), the Milk District or, a little farther afield, the Garden District in Audubon Park, C'town has taken lots of lemons and made some tasty lemonade with all sorts of great retail and more. Someday, it would be nice for 50 and 17-92 to go on a "road diet" and make the area more pedestrian-friendly, but there are so many stakeholders involved in that I can't imagine it happening any time soon.

 

Beyond that, steve_o pretty much captures the approach of my group (it differs somewhat from Orlando 2.0, but heaven knows we won't complain if they pull off what they're attempting.) As asked above, what kind of retail does downtown have? At the starting level, we have an explosion of "smokes and Cokes" (thanks, 7-Eleven!) Also, no one need ever go unkempt downtown given our supply of barber/beauty shops and dry cleaners. On the other end, we actually have some great upper-end mom and pops: Swalstead Jewelers is my all-time favorite - they treat customers with as much regard when they stop in for a watch battery as they do when looking at Rolexes; Siegel's is a good men's store and Marie-France seems to be doing fine with ladies' wear. One problem: they're too spread out. If you don't know where they are, you'll probably never find them.

 

No, our problem lies in the middle. And I'm a firm believer that we take it one step at a time. But we have to start. Are we waiting for Godot? It's been five years since Publix and the Plaza Cinema Cafe opened. At this rate, as sunshine pointed out, it will be 20 years or more before we get a critical mass of retail downtown. To be clear (thanks, Prez O!), I'm not willing to wait that long, and increasingly neither are others.

 

So, it's time for DDB or someone to do whatever is required to get a 24-hour drugstore (given how busy downtown is from the time the joggers get out at 5 am 'til the party 'til you puke crowd slouches off after 2am, how can there be no market? NO other neighborhood in central FL has more souls out for more hours of the day.) We need a hardware store and a bike shop. Just one of each, please, we're not trying to build The Mall of America.

 

But, most importantly, we need a place to buy casual clothing, from underwear and socks up through casual. Sunshine, steve_o and others talk about how we don't have a college downtown (we do, actually, FAMU's law school, but it's not very big.) But what we do have is lots of college kids. Who do you think filled all those bankrupt towers downtown? There are PLENTY of college kids (in some cases, 4 to a 2-bedroom.) And that is the role DDB or City Hall needs to play: to make sure the site selectors in Plano and Manhattan are fully aware just how many people that would love to buy their stuff there are in the core but who don't show up on any spreadsheets yet. That has been the biggest failure. The major reason Park Ave. has a GAP is because of Rollins (I know, college kids could care less about GAP these days, but it was different when they were planning for it.) We also have all those seniors in the retirement towers - do you really think those folks wouldn't love a Walgreens or a CVS downtown? Just ask Rob, the poor pharmacist at Publix, who after a slow start while the seniors got used to the idea he was there, now is inundated with geriatric pill poppers. (It's great to have that pharmacy, btw, but there's not enough room for anything other than a cursory health and beauty aids section and the hours are too short.)

 

Will we ever get destination retail? I'm with steve_o and am not counting on it. But we can set our sights on a CityTarget or perhaps even a small Macy's, and I think they'd be amazed at just how well they'd do, since they'd have almost no competition (as Publix well knows.)

 

That's our goal, and we'll continue to pursue it.

Edited by spenser1058

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, I have to offer my sincerest apologies to FLClarkKent. If my style (alas, a former debater and oppo prep for politicians) made you feel as seemed a personal attack, then I have erred grievously and I was wrong to do so. As one of our regular posters, I like your contributions and look forward to them.

 

FLCK, you note you live in Colonialtown. Of course, I don't know exactly which part but I think you would not lose anything with a shift of retail westward to downtown. Colonial Plaza and Coytown aren't going anywhere (although I do wonder about the impending fate of B&N and someone at Winn-Dixie really needs to do something about that store virtually untouched since the Carter administration.) If my plan were successful, any retail you lose at Fashion Square would be replaced downtown or in Uptown, so the only difference would be the direction you'd go to get there.

 

Let me also add kudos for everything that Colonialtown has achieved in these last few years. Whether it's Mills 50 (including the Birkenstock diastrict, ViMi, or Little Saigon) the Milk District or, a little farther afield, the Garden District in Audubon Park, C'town has taken lots of lemons and made some tasty lemonade with all sorts of great retail and more. Someday, it would be nice for 50 and 17-92 to go on a "road diet" and make the area more pedestrian-friendly, but there are so many stakeholders involved in that I can't imagine it happening any time soon.

 

Beyond that, steve_o pretty much captures the approach of my group (it differs somewhat from Orlando 2.0, but heaven knows we won't complain if they pull off what they're attempting.) To sum up, as asked above, what kind of retail does downtown have? At the starting level, we have an explosion of "smokes and Cokes" (thanks, 7-Eleven!) Also, no one need ever go unkempt downtown given our supply of barber/beauty shops and dry cleaners. On the other end, we actually have some great upper-end mom and pops: Swalstead Jewelers is my all-time favorite - they treat customers with as much regard when they stop in for a watch battery as they do when looking at Rolexes; Siegel's is a good men's store and Marie-France seems to be doing fine with ladies' wear. One problem: they're too spread out. If you don't know where they are, you'll probably never find them.

 

No, our problem lies in the middle. And I'm a firm believer that we take it one step at a time. But we have to start. Are we waiting for Godot? It's been five years since Publix and the Plaza Cinema Cafe opened. At this rate, as sunshine pointed out, it will be 20 years or more before we get a critical mass of retail downtown. To be clear (thanks, Prez O!), I'm not willing to wait that long, and increasingly neither are others.

 

So, it's time for DDB or someone to do whatever is required to get a 24-hour drugstore (given how busy downtown is from the time the joggers get out at 5 am 'til the party 'til you puke crowd slouches off after 2am, how can there be no market? NO other neighborhood in central FL has more souls out for more hours of the day.) We need a hardware store and a bike shop. Just one of each, please, we're not trying to build The Mall of America.

 

But, most importantly, we need a place to buy casual clothing, from underwear and socks up through casual. Sunshine, steve_o and others talk about how we don't have a college downtown (we do, actually, FAMU's law school, but it's not very big.) But what we do have is lots of college kids. Who do you think filled all those bankrupt towers downtown? There are PLENTY of college kids (in some cases, 4 to a 2-bedroom.) And that is the role DDB or City Hall needs to play: to make sure the site selectors in Plano and Manhattan are fully aware just how many people that would love to buy their stuff there are in the core but who don't show up on any spreadsheets yet. That has been the biggest failure. The major reason Park Ave has a GAP is because of Rollins (I know, college kids could care less about GAP these days, but it was different when they were planning for it.) We also have all those seniors in the retirement towers - do you really think those folks wouldn't love a Walgreens or a CVS downtown? Just ask Rob, the poor pharmacist at Publix, who after a slow start while the seniors got used to the idea he was there, now provide a steady stream of pill poppers. (It's great to have that pharmacy, btw, but there's not enough room for anything other than a cursory health and beauty aids section and the hours are too short.)

 

Will we ever get destination retail? I'm with steve_o and am not counting on it. But we can set our sights on a City Target or perhaps even a small Macy's, and I think they'd be amazed at just how well they do, since they'd have almost no competition (as Publix well knows.)

 

That's our goal, and we shall continue to pursue it.

 

Never took anything personally! I just want to keep the neighborhood looking good.

 

I still maintain that it's not quite fair to pin the last five years of inactivity on City Hall. The economy was in a tailspin and is only now showing signs of recovery. But you're right to say that now is the perfect time to begin planning, as there's renewed interest in downtown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing I'd add about the East Colonial corridor and this is not Buddy's fault but that of his predecessors. Some of the most egregious failures in planning along that stretch cannot be blamed on greedy developers. In fact, it was the fault of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, and guess who sits on their board: the mayor of Orlando. The City, so far as I am aware ( and I was active in politics during the 80's when much of that disaster came to be), never said a peep about the strip mall hell created along the south side of Colonial. On the other hand, Buddy hasn't done much to remedy it since he's been mayor, either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.