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jliv

Redeveloping Orlando Executive Airport

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I was thinking more about this and why the idea of losing Herndon seemed such a nonstarter to me. Certainly, I rarely fly, and while space fascinates me (I'm a member of the Planetary Society), airplanes and aviation just never piqued my interest.

 

Still.... I've always loved sitting at Joe Kittinger Park on a late spring afternoon watching the planes takeoff and land. I had friends growing up who knew all the latest airplane designs and I'm aware the Civil Air Patrol once met in a left over building from the old Orlando Air Corps facility. I also knew shag boys who worked for Showalter, and a few who took flying lessons in Cessnas at ORL.

 

Living downtown, the planes have been small enough that the noise as they flew overhead has never bothered me. On my way to secure my monthly ration of Maker's Mark at Total Wine, I noticed more planes than I think I've seen before parked along the Maguire Blvd. side, which leads me to believe the airport is still financially successful (or maybe it had to do with the group meeting here that was mentioned earlier). 

 

I also thought about a restaurant, the 94th Aero Squadron, which overlooked the tarmac and piped in the chatter from the control tower and how it used to be a popular (especially among the vets still living in Audubon Park back then) bar to spend an afternoon in.

 

So, given the dynamic quality the planes give to downtown (certainly less static than yet another Baldwin Park), and thinking if I were a kid (unlike a lot of cities, we still have a lot of kids living in the close-in neighborhoods) I'd much prefer watching the goings on at Herndon than just another neighborhood, however nice it might be, that seems just another reason to keep it wholly apart from any financial or business recruitment strategies.

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I was thinking more about this and why the idea of losing Herndon seemed such a nonstarter to me. Certainly, I rarely fly, and while space fascinates me (I'm a member of the Planetary Society), airplanes and aviation just never piqued my interest.
 
Still.... I've always loved sitting at Joe Kittinger Park on a late spring afternoon watching the planes takeoff and land. I had friends growing up who knew all the latest airplane designs and I'm aware the Civil Air Patrol once met in a left over building from the old Orlando Air Corps facility. I also knew shag boys who worked for Showalter, and a few who took flying lessons in Cessnas at ORL.
 
Living downtown, the planes have been small enough that the noise as they flew overhead has never bothered me. On my way to secure my monthly ration of Maker's Mark at Total Wine, I noticed more planes than I think I've seen before parked along the Maguire Blvd. side, which leads me to believe the airport is still financially sruccessful (or maybe it had to do with the group meeting here that was mentioned earlier). 
 
I also thought about a restaurant, the 94th Aero Squadron, which overlooked the tarmac and piped in the chatter from the control tower and how it used to be a popular (especially among the vets still living in Audubon Park back then) bar to spend an afternoon in.
 
So, given the dynamic quality the planes give to downtown (certainly less static than yet another Baldwin Park), and thinking if I were a kid (unlike a lot of cities, we still have a lot of kids living in the close-in neighborhoods) I'd much prefer watching the goings on at Herndon than just another neighborhood, however nice it might be, that seems just another reason to keep it wholly apart from any financial or business recruitment strategies.

 
The elementary school I attended many eons ago happens to be in the Google Map images I used in my renderings.  I can't think of anything more emblematic of my childhood than Herndon Airport as East Orlando is where I grew up.  Orlando is loaded with nostalgic triggers for me.  However, I think of what makes great cities from my observations from my travels as an adult, and how the sleepy Southern town I grew up in no longer exists. Performing arts centers and sports are only parts of the puzzle; grand, lively neighborhoods with restaurants and pubs to escape the summer Florida nights are important, along with ways to make your way home from them a bit tipsy without having to drive.  Huge open parks are also important.  Perhaps the C-level executive might care more about a runway close to downtown to land his corporate jet, but the thousands of talented employees he will need to attract to staff his operation will probably care about the "quality of life" items I just mentioned.  Over 1,000 acres of public land close to the city center opens an absurd number of possibilities: think Balboa Park in San Diego or the Pearl District in Portland.  All that is needed is vision.

 

Here's a fun aerial from 1952 of Orlando Air Force Base from the aerialarchives.com website (FYI there's a 30-day free license to post this photo):

 

post-5222-0-21340800-1394618782_thumb.jp
 
Notice Lake Underhill without the Holland East-West Expressway slicing it in half, or the orange groves in place of the late-1950's development that now wraps around it.  Maguire Blvd had that dramatic curve to the east and the NTC north of SR 50 before Orlando Fashion Square was built!

post-5222-0-21340800-1394618782_thumb.jp

Edited by jliv

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I didn't realize how big it used to be. Sure redeveloping a huge swath of land would be fun, but how about redeveloping the parts on 50? There's a challenge, obviously because of what hasn't worked yet. An "aerodrome neighborhood" sounds cool to me.

 

I would also love to see someone come in and run a aerosquadron restaurant. The airport itself could stand to add some services it looks like. 

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I didn't realize how big it used to be. Sure redeveloping a huge swath of land would be fun, but how about redeveloping the parts on 50? There's a challenge, obviously because of what hasn't worked yet. An "aerodrome neighborhood" sounds cool to me..  

 

I would also love to see someone come in and run a aerosquadron restaurant. The airport itself could stand to add some services it looks like. 

 

I would repeat the process used by the city after the NTC was marked for decommissioning; establish a reuse commission to develop the guiding principles for any future development, and find a development partner with greenfield development experience, like Forest City Enterprises who is redeveloping the old Stapleton Airport in Denver.  This will lead to much faster progress than what we are seeing with the "Creative Village": there really isn't an experienced master planner/developer driving the process for that district.

 

I would envision a development of 3,000 residences, with a large park on the east side to provide a buffer for Azalea Park.  An extension of Robinson St. across the property could be lined with office buildings and plenty of retail and restaurants at street level. It could intersect with an extended Bennett Road at the center, with a European-style roundabout.  You build one of those kinds of neighborhoods you can take out-of-town friends to with pride, or to prospective job candidates who aren't quite sold on living in Orlando.  Sounds like a much better deal than a parking lot for a handful of Cessnas and a couple of strip malls well past their prime, don't you think?

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While the area around the "Creative Village" is suited for affordable housing and government/educational buildings at this point, I'll be surprised if any private-sector developers step in to build office and retail in the next 5 years.  It will take major economic development coups for the ultimate build-out to resemble anything like the original vision.  Beyond that, it's mostly light-industrial and low-income housing to OBT, which can be revitalised but would need considerable government infrastructure investment.  Not to mention, a considerable exercise of eminent domain powers would need to be invoked by the city.  An airport redevelopment would be different:  there are 1,055 acres under public ownership in the area, not counting the GOAA land fronting SR 50 which was developed in the 1980's with the Colonial Promenade and restaurant out-parcels.  The acres are surrounded by desirable residential areas that would ensure a higher-end real estate rental and sales market. A master plan consisting of an extension of the downtown grid that currently ends at Maguire Blvd. could be implemented, with infrastructure funded by the sale of land to private interests at market rates.  Here's a quick and dirty rendering:

 

 
 
Rendering with a potential LRT/Streetcar line added:
 
 

 

 

Is the light rail line a real thing or a vision?  I hadn't hear Orlando was even looking into light rail for the core.  

 

For what it's worth, I doubt the airport needs to be redeveloped.  There is SO much empty and underdeveloped land in Orlando as it is I think we hardly need any more. I actually feel like keeping the executive airport as busy as possible would be in the City's best interests.  I really don't think the city needs the challenge of another giant swath of land that they can bungle like the creative village or central station.    And actually those two projects aren't really bungled as much as that there really isn't a need for tall in Orlando because of all the available land.  Once most-all lots and land have 1-5 stories on them THEN we can start anticipating taller things being built more regularly (not to say the occasional 20-30 story development won't happen).   

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Is the light rail line a real thing or a vision?  I hadn't hear Orlando was even looking into light rail for the core.  

 

For what it's worth, I doubt the airport needs to be redeveloped.  There is SO much empty and underdeveloped land in Orlando as it is I think we hardly need any more. I actually feel like keeping the executive airport as busy as possible would be in the City's best interests.  I really don't think the city needs the challenge of another giant swath of land that they can bungle like the creative village or central station.    And actually those two projects aren't really bungled as much as that there really isn't a need for tall in Orlando because of all the available land.  Once most-all lots and land have 1-5 stories on them THEN we can start anticipating taller things being built more regularly (not to say the occasional 20-30 story development won't happen).   

 

The light rail line was a vision based on a quick review I did of the corridor being studied by Lynx currently; light rail is one of the modes being considered in that study.  That said, it's striking how easy the airport land lends itself to a large infill development that could connect to a mass transit system, whether it be expanded Lymmo or fixed-guideway streetcar, and the purpose of the graphic was to demonstrate it.  I agree with your point about the post-war sprawl that afflicts Orlando, as it does most American cities. It definitely needs more residential infill that is pedestrian-friendly and utilizes existing infrastructure.  However, there really aren't many opportunities in the core neighborhoods to do something the scale of Baldwin Park to re-energize the city; otherwise there are small pockets, and in my opinion many missed opportunities (e.g. Mills Park). My favorite cities in the world all have a large number of grid-oriented neighborhoods with their own dense commercial corridors and Orlando could use more of them.

Not happening. While the numbers provided by the council reports aren't jawdropping, the executive has always been, and will continue to be profitable for the city.

 

Not true.  I dare you to read the very unsexy details as reported by GOAA in their last comprehensive annual fiscal report (http://www.orlandoairports.net/finance/cafr/CAFR_2012.pdf).   ORL has reported an operating loss after depreciation expenses for the past 2 years (see page 126).   Otherwise, none of the arguments made here for intangible benefits to the city have been convincing to me; there is plenty of capacity in the Central Florida area that could absorb air traffic that is currently handled at ORL.

Edited by jliv

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St. Pete's mayor is trying to reopen discussion of the continued existence of his city's executive airport, which, like our own Herndon Airport is on prime property some would like to see used for other purposes. This story from the Tampa Bay Times brings up several issues that would be familiar to us:

 

http://www.tampabay.com/news/growth/st-petersburgs-waterfront-airport-faces-renewed-scrutiny/2198684

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It's really too close to downtown.  That worked in the golden days, but it doesn't work today IF IF IF IF Orlando wants to have a really strong downtown core.

 

It seems like that is the case and those downtown structures will keep creeping East.  The edge of the airport is less than 1.5 miles from the current 420 E Church St construction project.  There are a lot of developable blocks between the two of them.

Edited by HankStrong

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It seems to me, that Orlando is developing one the the most vibrant downtown cores in the state.  We have more than double the population increases in our core downtown between 2000 and 2012 than any major city in the state.  Our core will become significantly more vibrant with the opening of DPAC (phases 1 and 2), addition of the soccer stadium, addition of a 10-15K downtown UCF campus, venues like Ace Cafe, and the new residents of NORA, Sevens, 420 and so on.  There is also room south and west to grow, with asphalt lots and warehouses that need to be torn down or relocated.  I think it's way too early to think about spreading further east than summerlin.  With regard to the 410' (or whatever) FAA cap, I say, meh.  The vibrancy of a city is measure from the sidewalk, not a skyline photo from a few miles away.  You can have tall office towers and a dead downtown.

 

If your concern is the vertical nature of downtown and you don't like 5-9 story infill going on now, the best way to increase that is to restrict available lands.  Tighter availability of land will drive up the price so builders will need to maximize their investment by building taller. b)  Higher land prices will encourage businesses like joe's auto body and fred's wharehouse (not actual businesses), to sell to developers.  It's like an ice skater.  When they pull their arms in, the energy is concentrated and they spin faster (or in our case, taller).

Edited by cwetteland
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It seems to me, that Orlando is developing one the the most vibrant downtown cores in the state.

 

 

Is that like being the smartest moron?  HAHAHAHA  I kid, I kid.

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I am not oppose to short buildings per se. But it can be short and be architecturely interesting. Orlando is kind of archictecture waste land. Impact of tall building is not just visually, it also create pride and place making.  It creates interests for a city. Downtown Orlando is just now filled with people that cant afford anything after they pay their rents. Two or three college kids sharing one place.

 

Urban renewal is going on in Europe, for example OSLO. They created two areas which is low rise with interesting looking shorter towers. I will post some pics later.

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Leave it as is. In 30 years, there may be development pressure that far east. And if so, it should probably be another Baldwin Park in scale. 

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^^

tall towers add identity and interest- I agree.

 

^^

redeveloping Orlando Exec-- I disagree- for now... BTW, this weekend, they are hosting that aircraft show- NBAA- there, and at OCCC.  It's the largest civil aviation event in the country and 4th largest trade show in the US.

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/blog/2014/10/aviation-nation-en-route-to-orlando-for-nbaa-2014.html

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I can't quite understand the apathy (or even support?) of this airport on this board.  I can tell you though that I am all about urbanization and this airport is the exact opposite of urbanization.  It is a giant 100% unwalkable, unusable (for 99% of the population) piece of land in a prime location.  It might as well be a giant sinkhole where part of the city fell down and nobody wants to do anything about it.  This place could easily be Baldwin Park 2.0.  Yes, I am talking Baldwin Park with trains.  Not only would this transform the airport land itself but it would completely change, for the better, many other downtown neighborhoods to the west of it.  Most notably the milk district, I think.  Look at the aerial maps.  There are significant chunks of land west of Maguire and east of Bumby which cannot be used at all because there needs to be a clearing for the planes to come down for landing.

 

This is not about getting rid of the height requirement.  I couldn't care less about the height requirement frankly.  This is about urbanization of land very close to the core which is not living up to any kind of urban planning standards.  This is about those low-rise buildings where there currently are "no-rise" buildings.  This airport is worse than a giant parking lot.  At least if it were a parking lot, I could park my car there.  At the moment, I can't do ANYTHING there.

 

Some people might be thinking that the neighborhoods to the east are simply not dense enough to justify an extension of the "urban core" that close to fashion square.  This is not the right way to be thinking though.  First, the urban core is not something that has to spread contiguously like an explosion spreading outward from the center.  Rather, it can pop up in various places which will eventually encourage the "gaps" between to urbanize as well.  After all, Baldwin Park is not continuous with the urban core yet I doubt anyone here thinks it is "too far out" and is therefore a waste of a development.  Yes, it might not literally be in the core but Baldwin feels like the right type of development that should exist in the location where it is.  The airport certainly does not and it is probably closer to the core than Baldwin.

 

Maybe it feels like too much of a hurdle and that is why people are so apathetic.  I don't know.  Hurdles like that just make me more energized against them though.

 

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I guess I'm an odd man out in that the last thing I would want to see is another Baldwin Park. It feels like the subdivision I moved into over in Largo in high school except with all the houses crammed cheek to jowl.

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I may be interpreting this wrong, but I wonder sometimes if some folks believe that "Manhattanization" is the only successful form of urbanization, as if there's no other model to follow. Instead, is there room to determine our own success based on the experiences we've had as a city?

 

I thought about this after there were some discussions both here and at SSC about how much better Tampa's downtown is than ours. After all, it's much more vertical!

 

But, then, this week, I read an entry over at SSC that they were attempting both to get a downtown grocery store and to launch a farmer's market on Franklin Street. Tampa's mayor of course has been working on the grocery store for some time (they do have a Publix just across the river, but it's a stretch to walk to from downtown proper) and apparently the farmer's market will only be once a month as it seems they're not sure there will be enough traffic to do it weekly at the moment.

 

Then, today, I was attempting to stroll through our Eola farmer's market to our downtown Publix, and both were jammed from the Eola playground right on over to the store. Central Blvd. was also something of a traffic jam all the way back past Orange Avenue. On a Sunday, no less, and this was well after the morning church services let out.

 

Could it be there's more than one successful way to be urban? It's worth pondering, I think.

Edited by spenser1058
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I may be interpreting this wrong, but I wonder sometimes if some folks believe that "Manhattanization" is the only successful form of urbanization, as if there's no other model to follow. Instead, is there room to determine our own success based on the experiences we've had as a city?

 

I thought about this after there were some discussions both here and at SSC about how much better Tampa's downtown is than ours. After all, it's much more vertical!

 

But, then, this week, I read an entry over at SSC that they were attempting both to get a downtown grocery store and to launch a farmer's market on Franklin Street. Tampa's mayor of course has been working on the grocery store for some time (they do have a Publix just across the river, but it's a stretch to walk to from downtown proper) and apparently the farmer's market will only be once a month as it seems they're not sure there will be enough traffic to do it weekly at the moment.

 

Then, today, I was attempting to stroll through our Eola farmer's market to our downtown Publix, and both were jammed from the Eola playground right on over to the store. Central Blvd. was also something of a traffic jam all the way back past Orange Avenue. On a Sunday, no less, and this was well after the morning church services let out.

 

Could it be there's more than one successful way to be urban? It's worth pondering, I think.

Bingo ... and as you recall from a recent Sentinel story, between 2000 and 2012 Orlando's city center population grew by 35.4%, while Tampa's grew only by 14.5%,  Miami and Jacksonville were even lower.  So, when measuring what really counts (downtown vibrancy), we are way ahead and pulling away even faster. If what they say about a downtown university giving a city 14/7 life, hang on to your hats when UCF opens their creative village campus. 

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Today's heavy traffic was caused by street closures and subsiquent police lock down of a car show. I know it's Sunday and all, but I think we are getting big enough that considering our creative traffic patterns downtown that more thought should be given to street closures than in the past.

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A good point, but it's busy downtown on almost any Sunday, especially compared to downtown Tampa. In any event, especially as the Bloomberg administration was getting creative with street closures on Broadway, you often read the same sort of complaints in, um, Manhattan!

 

In any event, if there were no one downtown (if you had driven past the same point in 1995, for example), no one would complain about the closures.

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Why on Earth anyone quotes the Slantinel on these boards for anything more than humor is beyond me.

 

I already pay for toilet paper, I don't need to pay for e-toilet paper.

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I like the Baldwin Park concept at the airport. But i like the airport concept even better. Leave it as is. It is very convenient and serves a purpose. Besides, there is enough vacant land all around that we do not need to add that much space to the market. 

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