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Church Street Plaza | 28-Story Office/Hotel [Phase 1 Under Construction]

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Re: the retention pond, just plant some trees around the edge. Maybe some Cypress trees just inside the shoreline like they did in Lakes Eola and Davis et al. Maybe put some other species up higher on the banks. 

Filling it with dirt and putting in a park would be counterproductive from a conservation standpoint. Water retention ponds not only manage storm runoff, they offset the loss of natural water absorption and groundwater recharge in an area, after it has been covered over with asphalt or concrete.

That is of critical importance in Florida as our population steadily increases and more and more water is being pulled up from the aquifer.

Edited by JFW657
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That's kind of what I was getting at. I should have posted an example of retention ponds converted to parks while still serving the purpose of water retention ponds and handling runoff with the additon of bioswales. Just add benches and the appropriate water plants. I wouldn't condone straight up infilling. 

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RE: streetscaping. Simply adding a few trees is not thinking big enough - the city has already done so and it still looks bad. The city is the one who coined the term "southern gateway entrance" or some BS so treat it like one. Line both sides of the street with ornamental trees (crepe myrtles, etc). Turn the retention pond into a mini park and keep it well lit. Add a sidewalk/path around the pond and divert excess runoff from nearby structures into the pond to keep it "stocked". Terrace the berms with flowers and trees like the Summerlin Ave & Anderson St 408 bridge. Add art paneling to that large stretch of blank garage to welcome people into downtown.

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In fairness, I guess we have to wait until everything is done with I4 (both above and below) before making a judgment.

Having said that, once upon a time the city asked for (and got) permission from FDOT to maintain I4 landscaping downtown. Former Commissioner Jeff Clark (from College Park) made it his personal mission to keep that stretch neat and pretty. Mayor Bill, who reveled in such details, was happy to meet any requests Jeff had.

That all went by the boards as the council changed hands. With I4 Ultimate underway and the aftermath of budget cuts during the Great Recession, all of that took a major hit.

There's also the fact that landscaping just isn't a priority for Mayor Buddy. Parks and Recreation is a mere shadow of its former self. The city's centerpiece, Eola Park, is another case in point. The flowers are gone and even the grass is dying. Compared to the days of the 1987 redo of the park by Mayor Bill, it's a sad state of affairs.

I don't really expect any of that to change so long as the current administration continues. It's just not something they're interested in.

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Sad to hear Buddy is that way... landscaping is often overlooked yet it makes a huge difference in people's state of mind and perception of an overall area.  Landscaping in some cases can even camouflage even the ugliest architectural blemishes in a city...

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14 hours ago, nite owℓ said:

RE: streetscaping. Simply adding a few trees is not thinking big enough - the city has already done so and it still looks bad. The city is the one who coined the term "southern gateway entrance" or some BS so treat it like one. Line both sides of the street with ornamental trees (crepe myrtles, etc). Turn the retention pond into a mini park and keep it well lit. Add a sidewalk/path around the pond and divert excess runoff from nearby structures into the pond to keep it "stocked". Terrace the berms with flowers and trees like the Summerlin Ave & Anderson St 408 bridge. Add art paneling to that large stretch of blank garage to welcome people into downtown.

Ok, throw a sidewalk around the pond, plant trees along both sides of the street and toss in some flowers. Art panels on that garage would cost so much that it's not likely to ever happen. And I won't even address the question of what if it turned out to be crappy looking art?

Also, I think the term "southern gateway" was originally coined to describe potential development of the site across Orange Ave from Aloft and just north of the 408 overpass, though it might have also been used re: CSP.

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3 hours ago, JFW657 said:

Ok, throw a sidewalk around the pond, plant trees along both sides of the street and toss in some flowers. Art panels on that garage would cost so much that it's not likely to ever happen. And I won't even address the question of what if it turned out to be crappy looking art?

Also, I think the term "southern gateway" was originally coined to describe potential development of the site across Orange Ave from Aloft and just north of the 408 overpass, though it might have also been used re: CSP.

It always makes me crazy when the gang under the Dome goes about rewriting history. First, it was decreeing "Main and Main" as Church and Orange when the center point of downtown (and the place the street numbers start) is Orange and Central. Not to mention that what was Main St. is now Magnolia, not Orange.

As to the Southern Gateway, that's the name of the project  that added the fountain to Lake Lucerne and rerouted FL 527 traffic northbound from Magnolia to Rosalind in order to accommodate OSCAR (which morphed into Lymmo.) Surely someone in local government must have access to a history of Orlando (or just call Joy Wallace Dickinson if staffers are too lazy to read.)

Edited by spenser1058
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4 hours ago, spenser1058 said:

It always makes me crazy when the gang under the Dome goes about rewriting history. First, it was decreeing "Main and Main" as Church and Orange when the center point of downtown (and the place the street numbers start) is Orange and Central. Not to mention that what was Main St. is now Magnolia, not Orange.

As to the Southern Gateway, that's the name of the project  that added the fountain to Lake Lucerne and rerouted FL 527 traffic northbound from Magnolia to Rosalind in order to accommodate OSCAR (which morphed into Lymmo.) Surely someone in local government must have access to a history of Orlando (or just call Joy Wallace Dickinson if staffers are too lazy to read.)

I thought Hizzoner was speaking figuratively when he called Orange and Church "Main and Main". I thought he meant that the intersection is, if not the geographical center of downtown, the most high profile and recognizable one. Kinda like "when you think of downtown Orlando, you think of..."

Also, I recall that a proposed high rise project that was at one time being planned for the parcel across Orange Ave from Aloft, was at least part of what was at the time being referred to as a "southern gateway" for downtown. I don't know if it was ever any kind of official title or project name though. I recall it being used as just sort of a descriptive term.

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46 minutes ago, JFW657 said:

I thought Hizzoner was speaking figuratively when he called Orange and Church "Main and Main". I thought he meant that the intersection is, if not the geographical center of downtown, the most high profile and recognizable one. Kinda like "when you think of downtown Orlando, you think of..."

Also, I recall that a proposed high rise project that was at one time being planned for the parcel across Orange Ave from Aloft, was at least part of what was at the time being referred to as a "southern gateway" for downtown. I don't know if it was ever any kind of official title or project name though. I recall it being used as just sort of a descriptive term.

Oh, he probably was speaking figuratively but it got put on signs and press releases and in interviews. I recall him making comments about it being the "heart of the city." For us who knew the actual history (and the fact that the city's two main retail titans -not to mention their Christmas star which was the focal point of the holiday season were two blocks north for decades) it was just grating.

The Southern Gateway as introduced by Mayor Bill was an official project approved by the Orlando City Council. Anything else is just noise. (BTW, the Northern Gateway was supposed to be Lake Ivanhoe featuring another fountain, but that was shot down by NIMBYs in Mayor Bill's own 'hood.)

Does it really matter? Only from the perspective that newcomers to Orlando always say we have no history. That's incorrect but if we keep changing the facts to fit a developer's PR narrative, we never will. It's all the more disturbing when it comes from an official source. The result? Today's epidemic of "fake news."

Edited by spenser1058
Adding info about the Northern Gateway
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Clearly I am terrible with cardinal directions :blush: lol, but I specifically recall the city calling that quadrant a "gateway" during Tremont Tower's planning.  Anyway yes, landscaping does go a long way. Most of the palm trees that used to line that stretch weren't maintained and weren't replaced as they died off. I'm sick of palm trees so I wish the city would use another ornamental variant or just stick with oak trees. There's quite a bit of green space that could be used for a dog run or something else - if under I4 will be transformed into a public gathering space, why not utilize the open green space? It's not the most ideal location, but with a little imagination it could be used for something.

landscaping.thumb.jpg.002442806244cab7b1ff1250a630dd8c.jpg

 

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While we're at it, let's go ahead and give South Street a new name. It hasn't been the south of anything at least since the East-West opened in 1973. Surely we can think of some local worthy from the last decade or two to name it after.

Former Mayor Glenda Hood comes to mind as she lives near Boone High and is one of the few postwar mayors with nothing named after her. One can also make the case that she may well be the city's last Republican mayor. Her tireless work attempting to pass light rail and her focus on the neighborhoods are worth remembering. She is also a local product of Oak Ridge High, Rollins and served as Jeb's Secretary of State.

And it's waaaaay past time to rename Division Ave. Speaking of fake news, if the name really isn't racially motivated, the last semi-official excuse (that Graybar Electric at Division and Michigan wouldn't accept changing the name after the Hughes family of Hughes Supply because they were competitors) no longer exists. Hughes Supply was sold to Home Depot (and then spun off as H-D Supply) over a decade ago.

It never gathered much attention (as a wholesale firm they did not advertise to the public) but the Hughes family (especially son David "Bumpy" Hughes) built the company into a nationwide behemoth that gave us one of our few homegrown Fortune 500 firms before it was sold.

My dad was a Hughes lifer, starting with unloading trucks at the huge old W. Central warehouse and making a really good living by the time he retired after 30+ years working his way up in sales with only one year of college (Reality would like the awesome income bump he got over the years from that career!). He left to start his own contracting firm.

Edited by spenser1058
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2 hours ago, spenser1058 said:

Former Mayor Glenda Hood comes to mind as she lives near Boone High and is one of the few postwar mayors with nothing named after her.

Considering that she essentially gave away the NTC and then - amazingly -  had the city subsidize the $100M+ in opportunity costs for the millions that the Pritzker's would eventually make off of Baldwin Park - private 'residents only' parks and all,  I say we  emboss her name on those ridiculous speeds humps on Breircliff and just leave it at that.

Edited by Camillo Sitte

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19 minutes ago, Camillo Sitte said:

Considering that she essentially gave away the NTC and then - amazingly -  had the city subsidize the $100M+ in opportunity costs for the millions that the Pritzker's would eventually make off of Baldwin Park - private 'residents only' parks and all,  I say we  emboss her name on those ridiculous speeds humps on Breircliff and just leave it at that.

The NTC sale was an epic blunder.  

San Francisco was able to preserve 2.5 sq miles of prime land at its old Presidio.  That land is worth hundreds of billions.  

Did no one have the foresight to preserve the NTC land for parkland?

Lake Eola is tiny by urban park standards.

(In a related matter, Atlanta is currently buying expensive commercial areas to expand Piedmont Park.  That is foresight)

 

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18 hours ago, Camillo Sitte said:

Considering that she essentially gave away the NTC and then - amazingly -  had the city subsidize the $100M+ in opportunity costs for the millions that the Pritzker's would eventually make off of Baldwin Park - private 'residents only' parks and all,  I say we  emboss her name on those ridiculous speeds humps on Breircliff and just leave it at that.

Hindsight, of course, is 20-20. At the time, no one knew if you could build a successful community there. There were blighted areas to the east and south (in fact, given what's happened with Fashion Square - which was still a viable mall at the time  - you can understand the concern) and Audubon Park to the west was meh at best then. Would people think of it as an extension of WP to the north and NW or assume it a failure like the neighborhood that lie fallow to the east for decades?

There was also the fact that most of the closed defense properties prior to Baldwin had become either no-man's lands or worse after the military left.

Further, Glenda didn't make the decision in a vacuum. She took the advice of a blue-ribbon commission (including Mayor Bill.)

Speaking of Pritzker - the Chicago firm played a part in keeping the decrepit NTC in Illinois even though NTC Orlando was much more modern and with better facilities. Did politics play a part? Absolutely. Making Pritzker part of the process likely led to the success in moving the military along in short order.

If you go back and read the Sentinel's  news coverage and editorials at the time, they mostly agreed with how things played out.

The success that was eventually had has taken tax receipts from zero to hundreds of thousands to local governments since it was built. It could have gone very differently, though.

Glenda got caught in a crossfire between conservatives who hated light rail and accepting money from the Clinton administration and liberals who thought Glenda sold out to Jeb (and who have opposed Buddy at every turn as well.)

If we had to make the decision today, we might (might!) do it differently, but the decision made at the time was understandably endorsed given the information available at the time.

Edited by spenser1058
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6 hours ago, spenser1058 said:

While we're at it, let's go ahead and give South Street a new name. It hasn't been the south of anything at least since the East-West opened in 1973. Surely we can think of some local worthy from the last decade or two to name it after.

Former Mayor Glenda Hood comes to mind as she lives near Boone High and is one of the few postwar mayors with nothing named after her. One can also make the case that she may well be the city's last Republican mayor. Her tireless work attempting to pass light rail and her focus on the neighborhoods are worth remembering. She is also a local product of Oak Ridge High, Rollins and served as Jeb's Secretary of State.

I dunno about renaming South St to "Hood St".

Doesn't paint the nicest mental picture...

bb11055227e4c210d267adb14c88d88b_1.jpg

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I know of very few people that are fans of "Glenda The Good B.tch". She killed almost every project proposed downtown as she tried to revamp downtown as a "Family Friendly" destination. 

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12 hours ago, RedStar25 said:

I know of very few people that are fans of "Glenda The Good B.tch". She killed almost every project proposed downtown as she tried to revamp downtown as a "Family Friendly" destination. 

LMFAO!  I don't know if I've ever heard that reference before!  That's brilliant! 

I didn't even have a chance to comment on JFW657's photo of those Greasers yet...that perfectly greased and combed hair.  OMG.  It makes Danny Zuko look like an amateur.

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On 6/7/2018 at 10:57 PM, RedStar25 said:

I know of very few people that are fans of "Glenda The Good B.tch". She killed almost every project proposed downtown as she tried to revamp downtown as a "Family Friendly" destination. 

It interests me that although we have a much more morally challenged occupant of the White House than Glenda could ever possibly be, I would never use a term of that sort to describe him. Respect the office even if you have no use for the occupant.

It also fascinates me that a 15 year old smear campaign still has resonance. The right (and John Morgan - "For everybody but THOSE people") set out to destroy Glenda because of light rail. The left hated her because of her ties to Jeb.

Glenda, as a moderate Republican,certainly thought a family-friendly stance was a good platform to stand on (unlike the Franklin Grahams and Jerry Falwells of the world, she walks the talk.)

What motivated her caution downtown, though, was the neighborhoods. We haven't had a mayor before or since as deeply invested in making Orlando's, ummm, 'hoods, come together and prosper.

Eola Heights, for example, was just coming into its own after rezoning under Mayor Bill preserved its very existence. No one knew if it would work or start backsliding again. When Firestone opened and then during the period when high school kids and others flooded Orange Avenue for cruising that got wildly out of hand, the Eola neighborhood association got scared and asked for help, Glenda immediately said yes. Then the bar owners couldn't imagine the temerity of residents who might want to dial things back began to counterattack. As it turned out, a lot of the kids found other things to do, Firestone became less of an X paradise and the Eola folks came to believe their neighborhood was a keeper thanks to rising property values. 

Glenda was right to come to the aid of the neighborhoods, though, because strong neighborhoods are the glue that holds cities together (a basic tenet of Jane Jacobs.)

Glenda also worked to assist historical activists (the folks who were most active in bringing downtown back from the dead in the first place.) Where Buddy let the bulldozers run and worried about the fallout later, Glenda tried to find consensus. Suffice it to say, we wouldn't have lost Tinker Field under Glenda. The Jaymont Block may have been too far gone to be saved thanks to demolition by neglect but she respected the process and the vision of the citizens downtown.

Nobody ever worked harder than Glenda to get a usable light rail project. It would have run on weekends and gone to more places people needed to go than SunRail has ever dreamed of. Conservatives on the OC Commission shot it down along with Harris Rosen, John Morgan and the I-Drive crowd (remember that the next time anyone complains about traffic around the OCCC) despite Glenda's best efforts. She also sacrificed her future in the GOP to try and make it happen.

Although the anti-discrimination ordinance was an anathema to the Republican establishment locally, Glenda worked behind the scenes to move it forward. World Cup also came to town while Glenda was mayor and she brought the first major expansion of Eola Park in decades.

Finally, unlike a lot of politicians, she was (and is) just a great person. When you work as staff as I did and did the grunt work consulting on campaigns, you quickly learned which people treated you with respect and which ones just ran over you to get to the politico they needed.

Glenda was always polite and inquired about how we were and even stopped on Central Blvd one day to chat with me when I was just getting started and I was shocked she remembered me. I later got to know her son and came to find out she was a great mom as well.

Suffice it to say, this progressive Democrat has nothing but the utmost respect for former Mayor and Republican Glenda Hood.

 

 

 

Edited by spenser1058
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^^

wow.  That's some fascinating insight on the good mayor.  So, what was the deal with Baldwin Park?  People thought there was a midnight deal going on there back in the day.  true?  false?

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Light rail would now exist in Orlando but for a dissenting vote of the Orange County Commission (Clarence Hoenstine and Mel Martinez, we're looking at you!)

I agree with you about Mayor Bill. So many things we take for granted about today's Orlando began during his time in office and before (he worked on OIA expansion and the sewage crisis before being elected.).

He did have blind spots (transit was not a priority and his record on diversity was abysmal) but he was the first Orlando mayor to give the city a sense of itself and what we could be.

Edited by spenser1058

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6 hours ago, spenser1058 said:

Light rail would now exist in Orlando but for a dissenting vote of the Orange County Commission (Clarence Hoenstine and Mel Martinez, we're looking at you!)

I agree with you about Mayor Bill. So many things we take for granted about today's Orlando began during his time in office and before (he worked on OIA expansion and the sewage crisis before being elected.).

He did have blind spots (transit was not a priority and his record on diversity was abysmal) but he was the first Orlando mayor to give the city a sense of itself and what we could be.

I think the presence of The Orlando Magic and the building of the first arena are largely due to the efforts of Bill Frederick.

I remember reading about plans being put in place toward that goal back around '82 or '83. Told my college roommates that Orlando could be getting an NBA team and a pro arena, and they scoffed at the very idea.

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Great point. Very much so. The Orlando Arena points out both the strength and the weakness of Mayor Bill.

First, it's important to let the younger folks know how desperately we needed one. Until the arena was built, indoor concerts either had to go to the Orlando Sports Stadium off Econ Trail, which always seemed just moments away from collapsing due to being constructed on the cheap and overuse.

Alternatively, you had to go to the Lakeland Civic Center,  which was over an hour away. Having thousands of teenagers driving that far on a Friday night was a recipe for disaster (one of the radio stations, it may have been BJ105 or Y106, had a "disaster watch" those nights to report on the latest traffic mishaps along I4.)

Even then, the hotel crowd didn't want to use their precious TDT for an arena and they wanted such a building located downtown even less.

The Orange County Commission at the time was in a full-blown war with City Hall over just about everything. They even threatened to move all county offices out of downtown to 33rd Street (how lovely they would have looked next to the new jail.)

Mayor Bill overcame all of that and also insisted the building be the city's showpiece. Here you'll see the big difference between Mayor Bill and Buddy.

While Buddy's new arena is nothing more than a big box, Mayor Bill's was as much a splendor as a glorified gym could be. It overlooked Lake Dot and the steps leading up to it gave it the appearance of a DC monument. Even the terrazzo floors were first quality.

At the same time, you can see Mayor Bill's biggest blind spot. The old arena was cut off from  the rest of downtown by I4, Lake Dot and an ocean of asphalt on the south side. No one wanted to walk to it so they came in their cars and then promptly left.

Meanwhile, Buddy's Amway Arena is located just across from the Church Street Historic District and steps were taken to make walking under I4 less foreboding to get there. There is no expanse of surface parking and limited garage parking to encourage patrons to walk over from downtown proper and also spend money there.

Orlando's strong-mayor system has served us well. Based on population, the county's leaders should rule the Central Florida roost but instead it's always been the city that leads the way. Although all four of the mayors in the Disney era have had their weaknesses, each was strong enough to take us from a town the size of Ocala to what will likely be a top 20 MSA by the 2020 census. To me, it's pretty remarkable what we've done in a very short time compared to most cities and given that we have never been the state's preeminent focus.

Edited by spenser1058
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53 minutes ago, spenser1058 said:

Great point. Very much so. The Orlando Arena points out both the strength and the weakness of Mayor Bill.

First, it's important to let the younger folks know how desperately we needed one. Until the arena was built, indoor concerts either had to go to the Orlando Sports Stadium off Econ Trail, which always seemed just moments away from collapsing due to being constructed on the cheap and overuse.

Alternatively, you had to go to the Lakeland Civic Center,  which was over an hour away. Having thousands of teenagers driving that far on a Friday night was a recipe for disaster (one of the radio stations, it may have been BJ105 or Y106, had a "disaster watch" those nights to report on the latest traffic mishaps along I4.)

Having to drive to Lakeland in the late 70's through the mid-80's for major indoor concerts [AC/DC, Rush, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, etc.] had as much to do with  Lakeland being equidistant between Orlando and Tampa, neither city alone being large enough at the time to support a stop for a major act, and the relationship the Lakeland Civic Center had developed since the early 70's with the major booking agencies.

Acts with a smaller draw often did make it to Orlando. I saw the B-52s, Flock of Seagulls, and The Waitresses at the Bob Carr.

And I am pretty sure that it was either Zeta7 or WDIZ who did the "disaster watch" thing but, given the haze of time, I won't bet any real money on that.

 

Edited by Camillo Sitte

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