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Jernigan

Constitution Green

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This has popped up on Bungalower and Orlando Weekly this morning.

 

http://bungalower.com/2015/03/constitutional-green-park-and-200-year-old-tree-on-the-chopping-block/

http://m.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2015/03/13/death-of-a-downtown-orlando-park

 

There is a lot of noise from several on my facebook feed wanting to keep the space as a park, but no solid plans on how to do that. 

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I'm always amazed by the flurry of action without solutions when something like this might happen.

 

I suppose it's better than apathy, but I never understand the "I want action, but I want someone else to act" mentality. 

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Best case scenario, the public outcry will force to City to try and buy the property. Maybe the buyer can sell the contract to the City for a fee. 

 

Worst case scenario, everyone raises a stink and looks foolish in the process. Do people really believe that the City should force the owners to keep it open as a park?

 

The City has no leverage here. The buyer and current owner could put a fence up if they are not approved to build what they want. In that case, no one wins. 

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I'm always amazed by the flurry of action without solutions when something like this might happen.

 

I suppose it's better than apathy, but I never understand the "I want action, but I want someone else to act" mentality. 

 

Most people do not know how to effectively initiate change especially regarding local government.  A good example where community activism (somewhat) worked is saving the brise soliel panels of that big hole in the ground formerly known as the Round Building.  The arts community came out and voiced opposition to it's destruction (for years) and even hosted a competition for the re-use of the panels.  Even in this instance of proactive community activism, the City was generally unreceptive and dismissive.  The panels were saved, but they sit in storage without much use.  Who knows what will ever come of them.

 

Regarding Constitution Green, I see it as a lost cause although it would be cool if the developer was a good corporate citizen and at least tried to save the tree.

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Most people do not know how to effectively initiate change especially regarding local government.  A good example where community activism (somewhat) worked is saving the brise soliel panels of that big hole in the ground formerly known as the Round Building.  The arts community came out and voiced opposition to it's destruction (for years) and even hosted a competition for the re-use of the panels.  Even in this instance of proactive community activism, the City was generally unreceptive and dismissive.  The panels were saved, but they sit in storage without much use.  Who knows what will ever come of them.

 

Regarding Constitution Green, I see it as a lost cause although it would be cool if the developer was a good corporate citizen and at least tried to save the tree.

I beg to differ.  A few years back the city worked with the developers that purchased the homes on the East side of Lake Eola and was going to build a 15 story office building.  Many, including some of us here contacted the Mayor and Patty Sheehan and got them engaged to work with the developer, get the land in a trust program and ultimately purchase the property and added to the size of Lake Eola park.  I have faith our city leaders will go the same route.  Patty is on this.  A potential developer is going to find it difficult to get any latitude from the city if there is resident outcry and will not make a fruitful effort.  This along with a somewhat "unbuildable" lot makes any development all the more difficult.

Edited by FLheat

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The difference is the developer owned the lots on lake eola already, they are based in town, and they got a pretty penny when they sold it. The City did not have the money to buy it and had to use a trust to take it down. Their financial situation is no better now. Of course, since they just raised taxes, they should have some extra money laying around.  

 

Constitution Green has the zoning in place to do as they please and do not need the city to bend over backwards. The city screwed themselves by not buying when is was converted to a park. The article mentions that the Caruso's did not want to sell to the city which is hard to believe that is true. If it is, they must of ticked off the Caruso's sometime in the past. If not, this is the city's own doing. 

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It's not all that unusual for developers to make efforts to save large, old trees like that one by incorporating it into their design.

 

A beautiful open courtyard with a giant old oak tree in the center would/could actually be a selling point for them.

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BTW, I think it was totally uncalled for Bungalower and OW to reveal the family's identity - at the most, just use the LLC. Now they'll probably get harassed by some kook with a screw loose. Way to fight dirty guys.

 

We all need to realize that we've been enjoying someone else's property since 1987. I'll bet most of the people complaining didn't even know the tree had any historic significance before any of this transpired. The gall of some people...

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Property appraiser does not have it under the family name. They probably had to do a little digging. And they are not the developer.

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^I don't know about that - it's pretty commonplace to refer to a developer by name.

 

Hence google and the property appraiser.

 

I've never seen a news medium specifically mention the owners of Carolina Florida Properties or Highwoods by name during a sale or development; perhaps because those groups aren't local so therefore they wouldn't have much to lose if their names are made public?

 

Everything was under an LLC. Sure, at the end of the day it's all public info, but most people aren't familiar with certain documents to look for to find that kind of info. With touchy topics such as this one, it's better to end the trail with a business entity and leave it at that, rather than serve a property owner's name on a silver platter to the masses.

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If the land is under contract, the family is stuck with the buyer. So what's the point to reaching out to them? And is seriously doubt 3,000 people have ever visited the park. I drive by every day and the weekends and never see a sole outside of maybe one person and a dog. 

 

I wonder if the City has the money to buy it. In Sheehan's interview, she mentioned raising money through the neighborhood. If she can get the council to support her, please do buy it and activate it so someone will use it. 

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Buddy Dyer has weighed in on Constitution Green & "The Tree".

 

Encouraging.

 

"There’s been a lot of talk lately about the potential removal of the historic live oak tree on Constitution Green. And that conversation is happening for good reason; it’s a beautiful tree on a fantastic green space in the heart of Downtown Orlando.

 

For a City that is known as the City Beautiful, we should do everything we can to preserve this historic tree.

The Constitution Green property is privately owned and we have been fortunate that the owner has leased this space to the City since 1987 for our community to use as green space in our downtown.

Recently, I’ve been made aware that the property owners would like to develop this property. While they have rights to build on their private property, they should not be allowed to remove a historic tree.

As Mayor, I will make sure we do everything within our legal authority as a City to protect the historic tree at Constitution Green.


The City has long been committed to preventing the environmental and aesthetic harm inflicted on our community by the destruction of trees, and particularly historic trees.

It is for that reason that our City adopted a tree protection ordinance. Our City Code provides that a healthy tree with a trunk caliper larger than 30” in diameter can qualify as a historic tree.

While I’m not an arborist, anyone who’s familiar with this tree can tell you that it appears to easily meet the size requirement. In fact, we have listed the live oak on our significant tree map.

Orlando’s neighborhoods are known for having clean tree-lined streets, plentiful lakes, strong neighborhood connections and well-landscaped parks. It’s important for us as a City to keep as much of our green space and tree canopy as possible."

 

 

Read more....

Edited by JFW657

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Wouldn't surprise me much.

But on a brighter note, apparently, according to BD, there's some kind of city ordinance against cutting down trees over a certain size, age or historical significance, so there may be some years left for it & the park yet.

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Can't we have the best of both worlds -- save the tree and incorporate it into a unique development. Everyone wins. Think of all the amazing interior courtyards in New Orleans. Imagine the possibilities for creating a destination development with the tree as a centerpiece.

The developer will lose money. The city better be ready to make consessions to save that tree.

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I think Patty Sheehan addressed that issue.

Because of the building height restrictions in place for that area, they'd have to build out rather than up in order to make any development worth the expense.

Plus, I think most people would rather just keep the entire park.

Seems to me like they could divide the lot in half, sell the east half to a developer to build some townhomes facing Summerlin. Sell the western half to the city & have a smaller park with all the old trees kept in place.

Guess we'll see one way or the other.

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I think Patty Sheehan addressed that issue.

Because of the building height restrictions in place for that area, they'd have to build out rather than up in order to make any development worth the expense.

Plus, I think most people would rather just keep the entire park.

Seems to me like they could divide the lot in half, sell the east half to a developer to build some townhomes facing Summerlin. Sell the western half to the city & have a smaller park with all the old trees kept in place.

Guess we'll see one way or the other.

I guess that could work. Sell the valuable side to the City and the remainder to another private entity for townhomes. The downside is that they need to find another buyer. Once the thornton park brownstones sell out, we will know how deep the market is and if there is demand for more townhomes. 

 

I would really like to know what the City offered for the land. 

Edited by jack

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No news about the park or coming out of the park.  I did see a homeless man sitting comfortably under the tree yesterday in the mid-afternoon sun.

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