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spenser1058

Winter Garden/Ocoee/Oakland Projects

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Since West Orange development is becoming pretty consistent and there's regular activity in redevelopment of their downtowns going on, I thought they deserved a separate thread.

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Speaking of which:

http://www.orangeobserver.com/article/winter-garden-considering-framework-designs-for-east-plant-street-corridor?amp

The West Orange Times is reporting that the long delayed framework for development along the East Plant St corridor from Dillard St. to the Webster (FL 429) is at last moving forward. If it remains intact, this will go a long way in sprucing up that area and serve as a model for making highways in the region more pedestrian-friendly.

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This would become a lot more relevant if they ever get the Orange Blossom Express off the ground.  I'm going out to WG later this month, but I haven't been there in like 5 or 6 years.

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, HankStrong said:

This would become a lot more relevant if they ever get the Orange Blossom Express off the ground.  I'm going out to WG later this month, but I haven't been there in like 5 or 6 years.

OBX would obviously be wonderful but Winter Garden is covering its other bases well. Retail along Plant St. is dense and pedestrian/bike traffic is often phenomenal, particularly on weekends. It's pretty much become everything we originally dreamed for Downtown Orlando to be when redev first started back in the early 80's, minus the highrises, of course.

What I particularly like is how they avoided the angst of the Grumpy Old Men cities like Maitland ran into other than the attempt at a takeover of city politics (which failed spectacularly) by Doug Guetzloe and his minions.

Edited by spenser1058

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That guy lives in my neighborhood.  He's got a Napoleon complex even in the neighborhood watch.

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I thought he was in jail or something?

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He did a brief stay but has since been released. I think the WG shenanigans went on while he was claiming to be too ill to go to jail. Doug essentially did an Al Capone - they got him on a low-level charge since they never could quite make more egregious charges stick.

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WG seems to be firing on all cylinders these days.  It's even rubbing off on nearby Oakland and their fantastic new development (suburb yes, but still very well executed).

I am continually surprised and impressed by the Plant St Market - an institution that can easily hold its own among major city center markets.  It really is surprising that downtown Orlando still does not have something that remotely resembles it.

 

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Was thinking of starting this thread myself. I just left downtown (55 West) and moved to a small development just off Plant Street and 5 Minute bike ride from downtown WG. It's been great and really eye opening. 

Some major projects come to mind:

  • Dillard redo. From Plant Street to 50. This is very much needed. Looks like it would extend the WOT with a small southern spur. Great use of the ROW. http://www.orangeobserver.com/article/future-dillard-street
  • The Ocoee Master Plan is bananas. Significant re-working of the street grid near 429/Plant, extension of the WOT into downtown Ocoee. All around great ideas. See here: http://www.ocoee.org/DocumentCenter/View/2827 and also http://www.ocoee.org/807/Downtown-Master-Plan
  • Spenser already mentioned it, but the Plant to 429 corridor is going to change a lot. 
  • Once all of the above has occurred, you'll be able to bike from Downtown Oakland, through Downtown Winter Garden, and over to Downtown Ocoee. 100% on dedicated, car-free bike trails (sometimes in the median, but so much safer than sharrows and bike lanes next to parked cars). That's amazing.

There's a certain urban/community fabric out here that I have wanted in downtown Orlando for the 10 years I've been here. Honestly I think you can attribute a huge amount of it to the trail. It is very busy. I bought a bike, and in a 30 minute ride during peak times you will encounter sometimes hundreds of people. 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, castorvx said:

Was thinking of starting this thread myself. I just left downtown (55 West) and moved to a small development just off Plant Street and 5 Minute bike ride from downtown WG. It's been great and really eye opening. 

Some major projects come to mind:

  • Dillard redo. From Plant Street to 50. This is very much needed. Looks like it would extend the WOT with a small southern spur. Great use of the ROW. http://www.orangeobserver.com/article/future-dillard-street
  • The Ocoee Master Plan is bananas. Significant re-working of the street grid near 429/Plant, extension of the WOT into downtown Ocoee. All around great ideas. See here: http://www.ocoee.org/DocumentCenter/View/2827 and also http://www.ocoee.org/807/Downtown-Master-Plan
  • Spenser already mentioned it, but the Plant to 429 corridor is going to change a lot. 
  • Once all of the above has occurred, you'll be able to bike from Downtown Oakland, through Downtown Winter Garden, and over to Downtown Ocoee. 100% on dedicated, car-free bike trails (sometimes in the median, but so much safer than sharrows and bike lanes next to parked cars). That's amazing.

There's a certain urban/community fabric out here that I have wanted in downtown Orlando for the 10 years I've been here. Honestly I think you can attribute a huge amount of it to the trail. It is very busy. I bought a bike, and in a 30 minute ride during peak times you will encounter sometimes hundreds of people. 

I had that typical challenge yesterday while visiting Orlando of where to take my elderly parents to dinner besides Winter Park (my mother loves her chain restaurants, which always causes problems for me), but I thought of Winter Garden after reading through these forums.  What a surprise! It's the kind of development I've always craved in Central Florida: a nice escape from the sea of Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen outlets.  Bike trails/urban parks are the catalysts these days for driving new development, and I hope this provides a model for other communities in Central Florida to step up their game and consider active recreation in their planning decisions.

Edited by jliv
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The amount of development and things going on in this area, particularly in retail and general community feel, puts Downtown Orlando to shame sometimes (but we're catching up a lot!). The West Orange Trail is perhaps the major thing (or one of them) that really revitalized Winter Garden. The one thing Winter Garden is currently missing is transportation. I believe there is hourly Lynx buses there, and that's about it. With the debut of SunRail, there has been a little speculative talk about building an east-west commuter train line. Luckily the ROW and in some places the rail itself still exists from former railroads that ran through Ocoee, Winter Garden, and Oakland, albeit a good deal of trails run along this ROW now. It would be great if this could be the beginnings of a commuter rail line that could run as far as UCF on the east and to Clermont on the west. It's a far off idea but if such a thing can be pulled off along with the Orange Blossom Express, which would go north to Apopka, Mount Dora, and Eustis, it would be a total game changer.

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Elevated rail over Colonial would be the best thing that could happen to Orlando in the next ten years.  I'd expect either a monorail or above ground subway-type (like Miami Metrorail) system.  With the increased infrastructure spending of the Trump Administration, I wouldn't be surprised if we get the northern Sunrail extension and the Aiport extension sooner than we think.

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The development team behind Crooked Can Brewery has started construction on the adjacent property on Plant Street (the parking area).  The two story buildings will house three restaurants at ground level and office space above for Crooked Can.  I've been looking forward to this project for several years:

Some construction pics here:

http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2017/05/09/steaks-burgers-and-an-authentic-mexican-restaurant.html

Better journalism here :):

http://www.orangeobserver.com/article/new-development-coming-to-downtown-winter-garden

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I'm not sure but last I heard they were talking about expanding it and that may have slowed it down a little. I'm doing lunch at Harry and Larry's Monday and I'll take a peek.

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Posted (edited)

Speaking of better journalism, the West Orange Times is a jewel of a small town paper. It has all the warm and fuzzy features you'd expect, but they do commit actual journalism on a regular basis when it comes to coverage of new developments and government. Although it's owned, I think, by a Jersey firm, they seem to give a lot of leeway to the local staff and their editors have been top notch. No one will ever accuse it of having a liberal editorial page, but they do tend to be fair and given political leanings in West Orange that's all one can hope for. It's an important part of the community fabric castor mentioned.

Edited by spenser1058
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On 5/20/2017 at 6:35 PM, spenser1058 said:

Speaking of better journalism, the West Orange Times is a jewel of a small town paper. It has all the warm and fuzzy features you'd expect, but they do commit actual journalism on a regular basis when it comes to coverage of new developments and government. Although it's owned, I think, by a Jersey firm, they seem to give a lot of leeway to the local staff and their editors have been top notch. No one will ever accuse it of having a liberal editorial page, but they do tend to be fair and given political leanings in West Orange that's all one can hope for. It's an important part of the community fabric castor mentioned.

Agreed. I have added OrangeObserver.com to my list of daily distractions.

 

On 5/20/2017 at 5:42 PM, prahaboheme said:

Also, does anyone know if the Tremaine Boyd development has broken ground?  I really like that this is a larger scale development that is off Plant Street.

http://wintergardenexperience.com/news/detail/a-new-chapter-for-winter-garden

 

I think this is under way. I've seen construction working going on there. I'll check it out this week if Spenser doesn't beat me.

There are a few other small projects going on downtown:

I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

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Thanks to you all, I ventured out to Winter Garden for the first time ever this weekend - just to see what the fuss is all about. I liked it quite a bit, and could see why it's so popular. Particularly with families. You get the small town feel with big city sophistication. 

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So, regarding the Tremaine Boyd property -- there has been some site work but it doesn't look as though the project is under way. Here:

592bb81f7be16_PhotoMay2473454PM.thumb.jpg.5cf732798e3ad63061263df5454f7446.jpg

There is another office under construction on the same block as this property. It's at 161 S Boyd:

boyd-property.thumb.png.df5cd259296d0db8e221384060950d63.png

I pulled this from the February 9th, 2017 commission meeting in which it was approved. You can find that here (starts on page 78): http://www.cwgdn.com/files/city-clerk/minutes/2017/2017-02-09-ccm-agenda.pdf 

Here's a current picture of the site:

592bb9ead3315_PhotoMay2473620PM(1).thumb.jpg.964d184d66b6cea30a910fcaa36fa210.jpg

Lastly, a recent commission meeting minutes contained this master plan / vision document for the eastern expanse of Winter Garden. Namely the "Gateway District", "Packing Plant District" and the "East Plant District." It was buried in a 300 page agenda that was about 250MB. I have extracted it and attached it to this post.

Pages from 2017-05-11-ccm-agenda-revised.pdf

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This is why WG left Clermont in the rearview mirror a long time ago! Clermont had so much potential. I always envisioned it with its beautiful hills as potentially the Napa Valley of FL. Huge missed opportunity IMO.

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Winter Garden and the areas west definitely get bonus points for having slight elevation changes. Not mountains. Not even really hills. ... Slopes? I love them.

 

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Posted (edited)

Well, it's official. I'm packing up my HRC and "Proud Democrat" stickers and heading to "The Charming Little City With the Juicy Past" as of August 1. 

The hope is to establish a beachhead in West Orange for progressive urban politics in the bluest of the towns out that way.

In 1983, when I moved back from Nashville to join Mayor Bill's redevelopment of downtown Orlando, we really thought it had the best shot in the region of becoming the walkable paradise we dreamed of. At the time, most of the smaller downtowns were still falling apart (with the exception of WP and, to a lesser extent, DeLand - it's not a coincidence those are both college towns.)

At the time, most of the others ignored their historic cores as best they could and dreamed of malls out on the main highway to prop up city coffers.

Little did we realize that Downtown Orlando would lose its remaining retail and a post- Mayor Bill successor would embrace diversity so fully but take a Robert Moses approach to saving the core. Today, it's Beaux Arts buildings along Orange Avenue languishing while Plant St. in Winter Garden thrives. Some of the most accessible performing arts in central Florida are finding audiences at the Garden Theatre and WG has perhaps more museums and environmental attractions per square mile than any place in Florida.

So, we'll see how it goes as I return to the hometown of my dad and his parents who first arrived from Georgia in the great 1920's Florida land boom. It's back to my own little Mayberry. Wish me luck!

Edited by spenser1058
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Will you be within walking distance of the center? Good luck!

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