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spenser1058

Waiting For Godot...er, Downtown Retail

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1 hour ago, AndyPok1 said:

I don't know a single beer person that thinks that.  If we're talking about just in the metro area, Hourglass is light years ahead of Crooked Can.  Crooked Can has a few good things for sure, but isn't remotely in the same tier as Cigar City.

I'm so fascinated by your experiences, I feel like this isn't the first time something like this has happened to you.  I can only think of really one time in the 4 years living in 55W that I've had a homeless touch me, and really only 5 or so times I ever felt any concern based on their yelling at me or my girlfriend.

Never mind blaming the victim. Your own experience doesn't seem so winsome.

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1 hour ago, AndyPok1 said:

I don't know a single beer person that thinks that.  If we're talking about just in the metro area, Hourglass is light years ahead of Crooked Can.  Crooked Can has a few good things for sure, but isn't remotely in the same tier as Cigar City.

I'm so fascinated by your experiences, I feel like this isn't the first time something like this has happened to you.  I can only think of really one time in the 4 years living in 55W that I've had a homeless touch me, and really only 5 or so times I ever felt any concern based on their yelling at me or my girlfriend.

I never said Crooked Can was in the same "tier" as Cigar City, today.

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7 hours ago, AndyPok1 said:

I don't know a single beer person that thinks that.  If we're talking about just in the metro area, Hourglass is light years ahead of Crooked Can.  Crooked Can has a few good things for sure, but isn't remotely in the same tier as Cigar City.

I'm so fascinated by your experiences, I feel like this isn't the first time something like this has happened to you.  I can only think of really one time in the 4 years living in 55W that I've had a homeless touch me, and really only 5 or so times I ever felt any concern based on their yelling at me or my girlfriend.

I've been grabbed maybe 3 times in 6 years. That's 3 times too many. On one other occasion I was followed home multiple times by the same person who was miffed because on one occasion I didn't acknowledge them. I had blown them off while walking by because I had been at the office for almost 16 hours and didn't want to deal with it. They took it extremely personally.

So all I can say is that, (1) I would often work late at the office, so walking home after dark was the usual, (2) it was substantially worse if I walked down Pine Street. The businesses on Church seem to keep it pushed back a bit, (3) I have, during the time I've lived here, used my car maybe once or twice a month on average, which means I'm leaving the house and walking a good distance 2-3 times every day. My exposure may be higher than yours, particularly if you don't work downtown and your commute doesn't involve walking.

I wish my experiences reflected yours. 

Here's a try: go walk by the public library once a day for a month. Report your experiences. :P I predict you go 30 for 30 on being solicited in some way. It's very, very, extremely unlikely to traverse parts of our downtown without interaction with the homeless. 

EDIT: I read what you said again and I think your experiences likely aren't that different from mine. What it probably comes down to is personal tolerance for being harassed. It has worn on me significantly over the years, and every time it happens I get a little less patient with it. Some days you just want to go for a walk and not get f'kd with. This is hard to do in Orlando. 

 

Edited by castorvx

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On 11/18/2016 at 1:51 PM, alex said:

I've been hearing good things about DeLand lately (and still about Sanford), so it's a real shame the SunRail stations aren't/won't be in the city centers there.That's the kind of growth we need: mainstreets with walkable cores and easy access to downtown Orlando/Winter Park without a car. Someday...

Back to retail: Sanford's downtown retail easily outshines downtown Orlando's. The fact that they have an independent bookstore, coffee shops, and a small food store makes it a good example for our downtown. Since parking is similar, maybe it's low rents and a dedicated customer base that make those businesses stay open? 

That is one thing Sanford definitely has over Orlando - the retail experience is significantly better and much more varied along First Street in Sanford than it is along Orange Ave, where most places are just restaurants and bars. I'd say it's a recent resurgence in Sanford on top of an established and dedicated customer base, plus strolling through Downtown Sanford is more laid back and safer than in Downtown Orlando, with a much less noticeable population of homeless people.

Sanford is the older and more historical city, and arguably has a larger stock of historical buildings than Orlando does despite being significantly smaller. Those old charming buildings and brick streets add to the appeal and draw people to shop there.

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My apologies if my words came off the page wrong.  I fully believe you have these experiences, and as you said in the follow-up, it is probably just a personal tolerance difference.  My use of fascinating was the classical definition of it interests me because I always like to see how others see the world and how it differs from my own and what the cause of that is.

Don't get me wrong, no one should EVER have to deal with harassment, let along physical touching.  So even the few times I have, it isn't acceptable.

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On 11/18/2016 at 7:40 PM, dcluley98 said:

...  Get a couple of those downtown and others can ride on the coattails. And it really helps if it is near more cultural crowd drivers.  This is why things like the DPAC, the Amway/Magic entertainment complex, Plaza movie theater, and a proposed downtown museum are so important.  Cluster all these things around each other in the same area, and they multiply and create the traffic that is necessary to support retail.  We are not there yet, but important steps have been taken to make this come eventually.  Compare downtown around a decade ago before the Plaza, 55 West, DPAC, the Paramount with Publix, etc. . . and we are light years ahead.

I think cultural drivers / destination catalysts are key. Beyond DPAC or Amway, which inherently have a flood of people coming and going once a day, the two museums in the works, which will hopefully draw a stream of people throughout the day, are key. I work just off Park Ave, and the number of people wearing Morse Museum stickers at Panera and N. Park Ave retail is amazing.

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I'd love to see those who actually live in the Central Business District make some noise to the City if they're at all unhappy with the retail options available to them. While the City can't directly influence which businesses set up shop, I'm certain if they knew even a small but vocal group of constituents was unhappy there would be some sort of response.

As someone who works in the CBD but lives 3 miles away, I know my needs are significantly different than a resident's and me complaining on a message board doesn't do anything to help the situation.

How much sway does Chatmon (or someone else in his position) have to bring in new businesses? Are his hands tied in some way, or is he simply ineffective at his job (or is it something else altogether)?

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Government steps in (or at least gets loud on the bully pulpit) whenever there is market failure. For years, we were told that retail would take care of itself once the population downtown reached an undefined tipping point. As I mentioned in previous posts where I did a great deal of research, the downtown population (both residents and working in the downtown core) has been on an upward trajectory for years, and perhaps more importantly, at a faster rate than other benchmark downtowns that were successful with attracting retail (i.e., Greenville, SC and Austin, TX, just to name two).

The market failure comes when you note that, despite the downtown population rising every year, the retail numbers have actually been decreasing.

Some market purists would tell us that government can do nothing; however, we've already done something. Publix and the downtown movie theaters both came about because of incentives. Both have been successful. Plus, it's not only downtown - retail has received incentives from the City and/or the County for developments like the Colonial Plaza redo and Millenia.

As for Mr. Chatmon, more about him in my next post.

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Thomas Chatmon, as head of the Downtown Development Board, is the person who is supposed to look out for the interests of downtown. Given that most of Downtown has been a success story, one would suppose he would concentrate on the most glaring lack. In fact, however, over the years of his tenure, there have been precious few projects and even fewer speeches delving into the problem. If this isn't his thing, fine. Let's get someone in there who can fix it.

As to the other folks at City Hall, letters have been written, posts have been added, organizations have been founded, studies funded, but Buddy still hasn't seen fit to address the issue since he first became mayor and finalized the Publix and theater projects. I get it, Buddy is more Robert Moses than Jane Jacobs and it appears this is going to be a small-ball effort, one store at a time. Which is why it's all the more important the head of the DDB should be all over it.

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I am part of the gov't cannot do much. The City threw boatloads of cash into the movie theater and Publix to get them downtown. They do not have that type of cash flow anymore. The best potential retail in my opinion is the Ivanhoe area. That is where we have the greatest upside. Downtown retail space is expensive, cramped, and over populated with bars.

 

Years ago I looked into what they population should be and I think the target was 20k. That may seem like a lot but we have some of the best retail in the world between our malls and Park ave. 

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All the more reason to go small. Those in my group never wanted some mega-development (hence, Buddy's lack of interest.) One at a time, a hardware store, a florist, a PHARMACY (not an upscale 7-Eleven named Walgreens), a bike store. We not only got nothing, we went backwards (losing our jewelry stores, for example.)

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Two tenets of retail that I've always heard are 1) you have to have a critical mass made up of destination-type major retailers + small indie shops and 2) retail should face retail. I think everyone here agrees on point number one: we need enough people and enough stores, and something like an Apple store, urban Target, or even an H&M (something that doesn't exist at Fashion Square/Colonial Plaza) would jump-start a shopping area and help support independent businesses. 

Point two is one we haven't discussed a lot. I'm worried about some of the retail I'm seeing going in that is only on one side of the street. For example, City Tower/420 East Church/520 East Church face a parking lot or unrelated uses, The Sevens/Citrus/Nora face residential across four lanes, and Modera faces a parking lot across four lanes. Both the streets these projects are on and the uses across from them don't facilitate a symbiotic relationship. Obviously it's not a magic bullet to have retail facing retail, but it helps a lot in driving (foot) traffic to an area.

I would say requiring any new project to have retail on the bottom was not the right answer. At the same time, only so much can happen organically. A big step would be to take Orange Avenue and make it two-way. Or, better yet, take Orange Avenue from Washington to Church and make it a pedestrian promenade. From there, it could tie in to Wall Street, the Plaza, and Church Street. Of course, there's also the option of converting Magnolia, as was visualized during Project DTO:

os-downtown-orlando-plan-for-the-future-20150507.jpg

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Retail facing retail is an interesting observation. I don't think I've ever made that connection. A good example of this in downtown is Central Ave between Lake Ave and Osceola Ave. It might be the only place in all of downtown that legitimately feels like a place you can shop. 

Very interesting.

 

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1 hour ago, jack said:

Years ago I looked into what they population should be and I think the target was 20k. That may seem like a lot but we have some of the best retail in the world between our malls and Park ave. 

20k doesn't seem like a lot to me but perhaps I'm not understanding what the boundaries of that measurement are. Is it for the entire DDB area or just the CBD or what? 

There have been thousands of new residential units built in downtown. But residential development in the CBD seems to have died down.

 

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Let's be honest. When was the last time Buddy really wanted something that he didn't get since he became mayor? Even Scott Maxwell has commented on that in the Sentinel. Whether it's the redo of the Centennial Fountain, Constitution Green, the Eola Seven, the Pulse Memorial (and don't get me started on the venues, including a soccer stadium that no one knew we wanted until the day it was announced), what Buddy wants, Buddy gets. Don't get me wrong, all of these were noble projects. Retail is just the last piece of the puzzle of a downtown that could be ideal (we might even make Dale happy! <eg>).

Edited by spenser1058

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4 hours ago, castorvx said:

20k doesn't seem like a lot to me but perhaps I'm not understanding what the boundaries of that measurement are. Is it for the entire DDB area or just the CBD or what? 

There have been thousands of new residential units built in downtown. But residential development in the CBD seems to have died down.

 

It was the entire CRA/DDB boundary. 20k seemed like years away back in the mid 20's. And as Spencer noted, smaller cities with less residents downtown have more desirable retail. 

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I see. Yeah, I meant to say that 20K doesn't seem like a lot in that I feel like we might already be there. I think we have a lot of reverse commuters in downtown Orlando, though. Once you take the trouble of getting in the car, shopping elsewhere is a lot easier. 

 

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I don't really see Orlando getting a significant amount of diverse, traditional retail, the kind we used to have downtown like Sears, JC Penney, Woolworth's, McCrory's, Behr's Shoes, Gibbs Louis, the men's apparel store that used to be in the Kress Building on Church, George Stuart Office Supplies, the State Discount Store, etc, etc, anytime in the near future.

Besides, when you think about it in terms of the distance radius a typical retail store serves, S. Orange down to Michigan and E. Colonial out to around Fashion Square, are for all intents and purposes, part of the "downtown" retail area. So in that sense, we already have an abundance of retail in reasonably close proximity to downtown, it's just not close enough to walk to from the CBD. 

If we had an in town rail system, the question of downtown retail wouldn't even be an issue. 

Edited by JFW657
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12 hours ago, JFW657 said:

Besides, when you think about it in terms of the distance radius a typical retail store serves, S. Orange down to Michigan and E. Colonial out to around Fashion Square, are for all intents and purposes, part of the "downtown" retail area. So in that sense, we already have an abundance of retail in reasonably close proximity to downtown, it's just not close enough to walk to from the CBD. 

If we had an in town rail system, the question of downtown retail wouldn't even be an issue. 

I think those are two great points--Fashion Square/Colonial Plaza are just too close and have most major stores, but we don't have convenient transportation to get there. Once you're in your car, you're gonna drive. I have a similar situation with work, where I work downtown (Pine/Rosalind) and live 2.5 miles away (Colonialtown North). To cover those 2.5 miles, my choices are a 38-minute bus ride once an hour, an uncomfortable 15-minute bike ride on busy brick streets (usually in heat/rain), or a 10-minute drive with free parking. I wonder how many "CBD commuters" actually live just outside the CBD and still drive. The Lymmo expansions could really help bridge this gap, and, in reverse, let downtown residents access a lot more retail without having to own a car. 

Still, I think there's an opportunity for retail in the core. I remember hearing that to build a store, Publix usually targets 10,000 residents within 5 miles (or something similar). But for the downtown location, they were able to reach their 10,000 residents within less than a mile. I don't know what that means for traditional retail, but it's a good sign for the elusive pharmacies, markets, and hardware stores that target a small radius of repeat customers.

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One good Miller's Hardware type store downtown would fulfill the role of several specialty stores. The United Trophy building up on Orange next to the Firestone building would be the perfect location for such a store, too.

 

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From my experiences the biggest issue here is landlords. All new retail going up is part of a residential project, usually done by a company specializing in residential. There are some companies who want to provide amenities for their residents and use it as a tool to rent apartments. I've personally been outbid a couple times now by bar groups for spaces downtown and landlords feel good renting to guys they already know and concepts that are familiar. Without a big retail landlord buying some buildings downtown I think it will be a tough sell without the city offering tax incentives to landlords to rent to something other than a bar.

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This brings up another valid point I've mentioned before. In a mall or shopping center the developer or management group determines the mix of tenants to keep from having 50 jewelry stores in the same plaza. In a downtown, something like the DDB has to either use the bully pulpit, twist the arm of local retailers, convince city council via zoning or incentives to vary the mix or find a management group to do those things. Thomas Chatmon has shown no willingness that we've seen to do any of that.

Brandon brings up another interesting point that the downtown bar owners are among Buddy's biggest supporters so it shouldn't be too shocking that we probably have too many bars downtown.

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Magnolia has great, untapped potential. Creating a pedestrian mall beginning at Church that extends north to the Courthouse, and attracting mixed-use development (retail / restaurant) would be ideal. Bumping the Lymmo out to Rosalind (with a dedicated Lymmo lane there) would also serve the purpose of giving Rosalind a much needed road diet while better servicing Eola.

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The Rosalind Lymmo idea could work given that there are 3 lanes available with some curbside parking that could be sacrificed as well. Or not.

Run the Lymmo line northbound up the west lane so riders could step right off the curb onto the bus. And really, the curbside parking could remain in place. Maybe eliminate a couple in spots where the stops are.

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7 hours ago, prahaboheme said:

Magnolia has great, untapped potential. Creating a pedestrian mall beginning at Church that extends north to the Courthouse, and attracting mixed-use development (retail / restaurant) would be ideal. Bumping the Lymmo out to Rosalind (with a dedicated Lymmo lane there) would also serve the purpose of giving Rosalind a much needed road diet while better servicing Eola.

That was a Project DTO goal, no? I too would like to see a pedestrianization of Magnolia while maintaining the LYMMO lanes there, plus a two way bike path. Get a shared street shopping experience going on there. I'd have the pedestrian mall extend south to DPAC, the only obstacle being all the church buildings from Church to South St, effectively making one side of Magnolia dead for those two blocks, but if something worthwhile infills the parking lot behind the Seaside building as well as the parking lot in front of FUMCO, it might be able to activate this stretch of Magnolia.

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