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castorvx

Downtown Orlando - The Walk-Friendly Vision

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I am completely in line with the general premise presented by other forumers and would certainly want to see a project with ground floor retail space - especially at this location.  But that being said, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that it is truly not in the developer’s plans for this proposed project.  I say this from a strictly economic perspective.  Think of many of the larger-scale projects that have been built downtown over the past 7-10 years - Vue, 55 West, SkyHouse, Camden Apartments, 101 Eola, Sanctuary, etc.  All had their first floors largely dedicated to retail space.  And each either sits mostly empty or can't seem to generate or sustain thriving tenants, e.g. 55 West and Sanctuary.  So, given this, I could see a developer not wanting to dedicate much, or any, space to retail in a forthcoming project.  From their perspective, it may viewed as wasted space, which of course equals wasted dollars.  So, the question in my mind become why does the retail space that exists in these downtown projects struggle to attract tenants and subsequently thrive? 

 

A bit off topic, and obviously a recurring theme on these boards.  But something to consider given the possibility that this potentially major new development may forgo dedicated retail space altogether.

 

As someone who has sat on top of thousands of square feet of retail in 55 West for like 5 years now, this seems like a really good point. Is it really on the developers to make it happen, or is the city government? or is just a matter of waiting for the chains to notice downtown?

 

I really don't know what it would take to push the retail market in downtown. Despite how many people have moved downtown in the last few years, those streets are still very empty at times. Can't imagine how hard it would be to sustain a business with the rent cost.

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Retail rarely makes its own decisions - they are guided. Why is there an H&M store in the Sanford mall? Because it's a Simon mall, one of the prime names in the business - even though the mall is struggling. It's why we have a Publix and a movie theater downtown - because the city offered incentives. Lo and behold - even though everyone KNEW it wouldn't work, the theater did well enough to bring a chain operator and the Publix has been above plan almost from the day it opened. 

 

Nevertheless, not all downtowns work (hello, Channelside!) What has to happen is for someone to tell the story and to convince by whatever means necessary to prod the retailer to take a chance. If ADHD Mayor Buddy would just take a moment to actually FINISH something before moving on to the next idea some deep-pocket contributor to his gubernatorial ambitions is big on this week, he might put someone to work over at DDB who has actual experience in attracting retailers (other than in the metropolis that is Albany, GA) back downtown. 

 

It has been done in Simon's headquarters city, downtown Indy, Greenville, SC, Austin, TX, and, ummmm, Orlando, FL just to name a few places. If Hizzoner actually had an interest in doing so, he could also rev up the bully pulpit among our local chains and prod some of our local chains to come downtown as well. As of today, what's missing (as it has been for over 6 years) is any interest in the topic from City Hall. 

 

Now, for all our of our free-market crowd (and let me reemphasize there's no such thing when government has given money to everyone from Millenia to Colonial Plaza for projects, not to mention most of what you've seen constructed downtown in the past 20 years), we can actually hire someone like a Simon or a Unicorp to do the DDB's job if that will make you feel better.

 

The most important thing is to get going, not just keep waiting for some imagined perfect moment years from now while all the 20-somethings we've attracted downtown move to the 'burbs since they can't afford the rents downtown AND a car payment because the powers that be were too distracted to attract a few stores downtown within walking distance.

 

Downtown has good schools, churches, bars, libraries, parks, theaters, museums, restaurants and a 7-Eleven on every corner. All that's left and we never have to talk about this again is a few stores - no more than you might expect in a typical suburban neighborhood with a MUCH smaller population.

 

Let's get this done!

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I think DTO still needs a larger residential base before significant retail will be viable.

All the gubmint tax incentives & fee waivers in the world will not sustain a business if there just aren't enough customers to come in, spend money & keep them solvent.

I think we're close to passing the tipping point, though. With all the projects under construction right now, not to mention those that will break ground soon, there will within the next few years be a demand for downtown retail that will not be able to be ignored.

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As someone who has sat on top of thousands of square feet of retail in 55 West for like 5 years now, this seems like a really good point. Is it really on the developers to make it happen, or is the city government? or is just a matter of waiting for the chains to notice downtown?

 

I really don't know what it would take to push the retail market in downtown. Despite how many people have moved downtown in the last few years, those streets are still very empty at times. Can't imagine how hard it would be to sustain a business with the rent cost.

 

The same holds true for Thornton.  My friend owns Qarma Crepes and they'll be shutting down after this weekend.   The pedestrian traffic is just not there.  Despite what you'd think, the retail just isn't sustainable yet.

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The same holds true for Thornton. My friend owns Qarma Crepes and they'll be shutting down after this weekend. The pedestrian traffic is just not there. Despite what you'd think, the retail just isn't sustainable yet.

That's a shame ... I just discovered last week Qarma exists and was hoping to stop by soon. I've been on the hunt for a good creperie since Le Petit Pleasures went out in CP. Best of luck to your friend in the future.

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The same holds true for Thornton.  My friend owns Qarma Crepes and they'll be shutting down after this weekend.   The pedestrian traffic is just not there.  Despite what you'd think, the retail just isn't sustainable yet.

 

I had dinner in thornton park last night (soco, which was excellent).  walking by thornton park central at 7pm on a saturday night,  there was not a single person in Qarma, the clothing boutique, or tijuana flats.  that is not a good sign for neighborhood retail.  how do we support more  if we can't support the current base?

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There is a tipping point I think, when the population surpasses the thresholds for supporting different businesses. All this empty retail space is forward thinking. The Publix is successful in part to it's great reputation, but also free parking I believe. Until there are more people living within walking distance, or easy public transport distance, why would there be any retail? If you are going to get into your car to go buy, why drive into pedestrian scaled, parking nightmare and generally car unfriendly downtown? Too big of a hassle. You are in your car, you can go where you and your car are welcomed.

 

As these new living spaces come on line around South Eola, and the Publix there (Thorton Park Townhomes, Artisan 420) relatively soon, and perhaps the Citi Tower going forward along with what is already there I think that area will be in the best spot to start seeing retail actually work. Especially with the Grapefruit Lymmo line swinging through. When I lived at Post when first coming back to Orlando in 2004 or so, that area of Central reminded me of what I considered urban living. With the Publix there, I don't think I would have left.

 

But that's what I think, and I am only an amateur city planner.

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Been lurking during the DTO process but now that is over figure I can say things here and there.

 

My thoughts after being in downtown for about 2 years:

 

1. We don't have enough retail. Just because a business closes doesn't mean the demand isn't there. 95% of the time it is due to poor management or location choice or both. From Thornton up to Orange really down Central its now 100% leased (outside Qarma closing). I along with a few other neighborhood owners are looking for space and its just not there. Thornton Park Central seems to be the only weak spot right now, Post and Paramount are completely full. Look on loopnet really all that is available is bad locations in the Plaza, Church Street, and the Valencia building. That is I think just about it.

2. The rents downtown don't make sense. The Valencia building is asking over $50 a foot. That is pretty much Park Ave prices for a spot with bad parking and no proven history of retail. It is about $15-20 too high. My concern is some idiot will pay that and then close within a year and everyone will say, "See we didn't need retail, no one wants it." Even Central Station is asking for $40.

3. I think this space could easily do 10k sqft in the $30-35 a foot range and be a big success with the right management. It has to have visible, easy parking though. For the right price I would take a thousand or two pretty quickly.

4. This was talked about in a very productive DTO meeting (Ustler really led the charge in this one, the Blakes also helped guide the discussion) but impact fees make even less sense. People getting hit with a 6 figure fee to open on top of the expansive build out puts a lot of restaurants and such in trouble right away. The talk was to have them spread across years and have them seem less arbitrary. I really hope this happens. It makes new retail much harder to fill.

 

I could ramble on forever on this stuff. Maybe some of this will spur some interesting conversation at least.

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That's a shame ... I just discovered last week Qarma exists and was hoping to stop by soon. I've been on the hunt for a good creperie since Le Petit Pleasures went out in CP. Best of luck to your friend in the future.

Have you tried Le Gourmet Break on Magnolia/Church?  They have been doing very well.  They are very comperable to Le Petit Pleasures was in CP and Croissant Gourmet is in WP.  I love their omelette croissants and the chocolate almond croissants--I'm there every week.

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I have been to Qarma crepe twice. My thought of that place is.. "is it dessert or is it actual food?" If it is dessert, the price is too high for it....and if it is actual food...it doesn't do anything for me.. I am still hungry after that". It just need to be the right mix of retails, since Dyer choose to put "poor college crowd" down there, right mix of business is very important. Businesses like chipotle, Mc Donald's, American eagles, beer place like WOB, buffalo wild wings...will do really well down there.

 

If you throw in a Bloomingdale or a Gucci down there, it will fail.

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Living downtown 10 years, I think most of the problem is lifestyle.  Since it is a relatively new downtown, people moving into downtown don't know any differently.  They move in with their cars and there really is not much variety of retail to change their behavior to get out and around downtown. I keep hearing "we need a larger residential base" but if you add up the number of people in a 1 mile circle of the downtown core, this easily trumps any of the outlying suburbs occupying several fold that distance and they all area able to support strip mall retail, restaurants and services in their neighborhoods.  Behavior needs to change, and that is only going to happen if we can first get retail that carry necessities in a common destination.  Publix has been a great start, and although we all hate corporate retail, people's buying habits have changed, and we need a pharmacy like Walgreens or CVS and a retail store like a downtown Target or Walmart to give people less of a reason to jump in their cars.  Once those are in place, the foot traffic is there and everything else should fall into place.

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Been lurking during the DTO process but now that is over figure I can say things here and there.

 

My thoughts after being in downtown for about 2 years:

 

1. We don't have enough retail. Just because a business closes doesn't mean the demand isn't there. 95% of the time it is due to poor management or location choice or both. From Thornton up to Orange really down Central its now 100% leased (outside Qarma closing). I along with a few other neighborhood owners are looking for space and its just not there. Thornton Park Central seems to be the only weak spot right now, Post and Paramount are completely full. Look on loopnet really all that is available is bad locations in the Plaza, Church Street, and the Valencia building. That is I think just about it.

2. The rents downtown don't make sense. The Valencia building is asking over $50 a foot. That is pretty much Park Ave prices for a spot with bad parking and no proven history of retail. It is about $15-20 too high. My concern is some idiot will pay that and then close within a year and everyone will say, "See we didn't need retail, no one wants it." Even Central Station is asking for $40.

3. I think this space could easily do 10k sqft in the $30-35 a foot range and be a big success with the right management. It has to have visible, easy parking though. For the right price I would take a thousand or two pretty quickly.

4. This was talked about in a very productive DTO meeting (Ustler really led the charge in this one, the Blakes also helped guide the discussion) but impact fees make even less sense. People getting hit with a 6 figure fee to open on top of the expansive build out puts a lot of restaurants and such in trouble right away. The talk was to have them spread across years and have them seem less arbitrary. I really hope this happens. It makes new retail much harder to fill.

 

I could ramble on forever on this stuff. Maybe some of this will spur some interesting conversation at least.

I am surprised they are asking that much for the Valencia building. Do you know what the TI allowance is? I am not confident in Central Station for retail. Maybe if it was in the $20 or less range it may work. 

 

Impact fees are a punch to the face. Everywhere in Florida, elected officials brag about our low taxes. We have low taxes because we gouge new development. 

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I am surprised they are asking that much for the Valencia building. Do you know what the TI allowance is? I am not confident in Central Station for retail. Maybe if it was in the $20 or less range it may work. 

 

Impact fees are a punch to the face. Everywhere in Florida, elected officials brag about our low taxes. We have low taxes because we gouge new development. 

When my broker got the asking price we pretty much stopped there. No idea what they were offering in TI. I think that is a historic building too so would not be too excited about doing permitting and construction in there.

Looks like Central Station has dropped their ask to $30. Still too high, but they do have a lease with a nail salon which I think will be a new thing downtown.

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Living downtown 10 years, I think most of the problem is lifestyle.  Since it is a relatively new downtown, people moving into downtown don't know any differently.  They move in with their cars and there really is not much variety of retail to change their behavior to get out and around downtown. I keep hearing "we need a larger residential base" but if you add up the number of people in a 1 mile circle of the downtown core, this easily trumps any of the outlying suburbs occupying several fold that distance and they all area able to support strip mall retail, restaurants and services in their neighborhoods.  Behavior needs to change, and that is only going to happen if we can first get retail that carry necessities in a common destination.  Publix has been a great start, and although we all hate corporate retail, people's buying habits have changed, and we need a pharmacy like Walgreens or CVS and a retail store like a downtown Target or Walmart to give people less of a reason to jump in their cars.  Once those are in place, the foot traffic is there and everything else should fall into place.

One of the reasons I think retail lags in the downtown core is because there is retial just outside the downtown core. I doubt we'll ever get a Target in downtown proper because one exists in Sodo. If I really need socks I can ride my bike to Fashion Square and if I really need something fancy I can drive to Millenia. 

 

As I read these posts I don't disagree with anyone, but I think what is there that I need that i can't get by going an extra 1-4 miles and that I can't order online?

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"if I really need something fancy I can drive to Millenia. " That presupposes the need for an automobile. The goal is to make downtown the one part of central Florida where that isn't necessary, especially given the premium you're paying to rent or buy downtown.

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"if I really need something fancy I can drive to Millenia. " That presupposes the need for an automobile. The goal is to make downtown the one part of central Florida where that isn't necessary, especially given the premium you're paying to rent or buy downtown.

 

You're right. It should be that way. I just don't see that happening anytime in the near future.

 

I'm on the south end of downtown & Fashion Square is less than 3 miles away from me. I know I'm part of the .001% who rides their bike for a 3 mile trip, but it can be done. I think there was talk of a Lymmo run from Baldwin Park to downtown that would include Fashion Square. 

 

I believe their should be light rail, and the run should include downtown to Millenia. That would eliminate the need for a car. 

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There is nothing about Orlando that tells anyone not to own a car.

 

Hopefully, it's headed that way.  It's not headed there in most of our lifetimes.

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There is nothing about Orlando that tells anyone not to own a car.

 

Hopefully, it's headed that way.  It's not headed there in most of our lifetimes.

You're probably right about owning a car, but I see the need to use one becoming less and less for downtown residents.  It's still way more pedestrian friendly than our burbs.  

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I would like to ride my bike to "shop" when and if the Lucerne project completed. But as of right now, it seems too dangerous for me to ride my bike on south Orange Ave. IF the bike lane along the railroad track is completed or they actually create a dedicated bike lane....I don't see why I would not do it.

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There are many more car free (by choice) people living downtown than you realize. And now with SunRail, there are many more car-free from 9-5

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I would like to ride my bike to "shop" when and if the Lucerne project completed. But as of right now, it seems too dangerous for me to ride my bike on south Orange Ave. IF the bike lane along the railroad track is completed or they actually create a dedicated bike lane....I don't see why I would not do it.

I ride my bike along Orange Ave frequently. I use it to ride home from work in College Park. I've ridden it as far south as Taft-Vineland. There is a bike lane on Orange Ave from Nora to Colonial, and again much further south from the Wawa through Pine Castle.

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yeah...when I talk about bike lane, I am talking about totally separate lane where the car driver has no chance of drift into it while they r texting, not one of those lane drawn on existing roadway with a picture of bike on it.

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You're probably right about owning a car, but I see the need to use one becoming less and less for downtown residents.  It's still way more pedestrian friendly than our burbs.  

I use my car as little as possible. It would be tough to go have to big up something big from Home Depot or IKEA without a car, but you could always rent one as the need arises. 

 

I think the main reason I have a car is that as a single male I need one for dating. 

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There is nothing about Orlando that tells anyone not to own a car.

 

Hopefully, it's headed that way.  It's not headed there in most of our lifetimes.

 

yeah...when I talk about bike lane, I am talking about totally separate lane where the car driver has no chance of drift into it while they r texting, not one of those lane drawn on existing roadway with a picture of bike on it.

Those would be awesome to have but I don't think voters in Orlando would go for it. They SHOULD, but they aren't forward thinking enough.

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I'm certainly rooting for it.  I just don't see it moving that way.

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