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downtowninvestor

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Yeah I definitely see a possibility of HOB being EAST of Interstate 4 if they made the possible relocation. West Church Street needs much more comprehensive improvement if a major investment such as that is to be in that area. Although I wonder whats going to happen to the apartments across the street from the Amway Center and the three empty lots that surround the CityView development because if the BBIF building breaks ground I would expect the City of Orlando to encourage somebody to fill that void.

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The City owns the parking lot next to the fire station. Long term, I am sure they would rather have better use. Right now, there aren't any plans.

And there is always adaptable space in the Church Street Exchange Building.

Ideally I would like to see the Exchange re-imagined as larger retail instead of the tiny stores that filled it before. Then take the empty lot and build a nice HOB there. All of this opening to Gertrude's Walk that could easily become a nice new pedestrian plaza. I think that HOB needs to be kept west of I-4 at this point, keep it near the clubs that currently exist. I would rather have a lot of stuff in one crowded area than have it spread out all over the downtown area. With Gertrude's Walk being fixed up the parking lot is really the eyesore of this whole area. The walk provides easy access to Church St and this lot is only a block from Orange Ave. The Exchange needs to have its architecture preserved so having a large concert venue here wouldn't be ideal, though this location would be great for a bookstore or large department store or two.

I'm imagining a HOB that gives credit to its Harvard Square roots. A replica of the original hand-prints in the concert could be simulated outside of the Orlando location. In fact the HOB could take both part of the Exchange and the parking lot with either a elevated walkway or have separate buildings for the cafe (and gift shop) and the concert venues. Most other HOBs that I've been to, which is only like 3, have been in much more urban settings than Orlando's.

One of my concerns though would be any type of non-compete clause that Live Nation may have. To the best of my knowledge they doing the ticketing for the Amway Center and Firestone Live. Do either of these locations have contracts that block Live Nation from having its own competing downtown venue.

I would like to see Darden back in the downtown market. They said it would take more pedestrian traffic to bring them back, something that the new arena already is bringing back. A improved retail focused Gertrude's Walk could also help with this effort. I still miss the Church St Olive Garden. Landry's would also be a great addition to the downtown restaurant scene. Despite all of our wishes the only way for this area to succed is to be a destination for locals and tourist alike. Something that the new owners also admit. A HOB would be one great addition for their goal of getting tourist downtown.

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^That's unconvincing -- whether HOB remains at Disney or relocates, they will continue their concert series. HOB is a mid-sized concert venue with an intimate setting. Amway will never be able to achieve that. HOB is also an international brand that draws in tourists, including their restaurant and merchandise. The city would be unwise to miss the opportunity to bring HOB downtown. The concept behind Amway was never to be a one stop shop, but rather to reinvigorate an entire section of downtown Orlando. So far, that is proving successful.

I would liken TABU as a concert venue to the Paradise Rock Club in Boston which is a more indie setting. In fact, the presence of different venues downtown would strengthen its musical portfolio, not weaken it.

Edited by prahaboheme
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Will Tabu be renamed back to Beacham? I saw a link somewhere that showed a signage project putting 1950s signs up.

Would be a fantastic thing!

I wouldn't mind seeing HOB go on Bumby as it is more or less a magnet. Could compliment the Plaza Cinema well and maybe create a little buzz over there.

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The Sentinel is reporting that Johnson's Diner on West Church Street in the City View complex has closed, ostensibly due to financial reasons. It's not the first time since they moved over from the original location on West Robinson Street, so it will be interesting to see if it sticks this time. I wonder if, with the opening of the Am, financial incentives they had received along the way were coming to an end. I would hate to have to go out to the 'burbs for my soul food fix (Mama Nems on Kirkman seems to be the most successful in the category at the moment, although there are good little places over by the East-West and in the Washington Shores Shopping Center ) but it seems we have to take the bad with the good as the neighborhood changes.

Edited by spenser1058
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Amway delivers Church Street crowds

On her worst day during the throes of the recession, Patti Schmidt rang up a measly $40 in sales at The Dessert Lady on Church Street.

"It was really, really horrible," said Schmidt, who started selling her gourmet cakes downtown in January 2008. "It's been a very long road."

Amway delivers Church Street crowds

Edited by DeepEyez
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Of note:

In addition, the newly formed Church Street District marketing group is working on plans to launch festivals along Church Street, including monthly car and bike shows — possibly starting in November. Other events include a seafood festival and a two-day music festival, both in the works for early next year, said district spokeswoman Lisa Cuatt.
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Am I the only person who thinks that downtown needs more bars like the south needs more kudzu?

*sigh*

I would love to know what the density of bars is. Here in New York the East Village, Chelsea or Hell's Kitchen pretty much every other store front is a bar, with the random restaurant, nail salon, deli in between. I think once the market dictates that there are enough bars, they'll start closing.

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I would love to know what the density of bars is. Here in New York the East Village, Chelsea or Hell's Kitchen pretty much every other store front is a bar, with the random restaurant, nail salon, deli in between. I think once the market dictates that there are enough bars, they'll start closing.

Thanks. I certainly hope you're right. I can't believe that's what Jane Jacobs had in mind in preserving our cities. I guess I'm just old enough to remember Orlando when downtown had car dealers to department stores and everything in between. Despite all the amazing things that have happened in our built environment, we seem incapable of unlocking the retail piece again. Of course, there seems to be no effort on the part of City Hall or DDB to do so, either.

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Thanks. I certainly hope you're right. I can't believe that's what Jane Jacobs had in mind in preserving our cities. I guess I'm just old enough to remember Orlando when downtown had car dealers to department stores and everything in between. Despite all the amazing things that have happened in our built environment, we seem incapable of unlocking the retail piece again. Of course, there seems to be no effort on the part of City Hall or DDB to do so, either.

I actually like the fact that Dream will take over the upstairs and downstairs space where the overpass is at 55 West crossing into Church Street Market and Touch will be located by the elevator across from upcoming lounge Heat.

I believe it's going to raise the level of attractiveness of Downtown Orlando and promote further development, possibly in the area of retail, through out the city center.

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The truth is that Church Street Station is merely regaining its former level of bars/clubs as it was in its 90s glory days. Lets not forget that in the past 5 years there has actually been new services, such as Publix, 7-11, some attempts at retail (which unfortunately have not lasted), etc. SODO is also just South of the core, and an effective Lymmo extension would make these businesses very convenient to downtown.

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If it wasn't terribly obvious, these two clubs are what we were previously calling Blend.

There was some original plan to have a spiral staircase going up between the two lounges, but I heard from some 55W staffers that it was axed for safety reasons. This was in the plans we saw before (which I believe was incorrectly attributed to Baby Grand's ... which is now open, and not in those spaces at all.)

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The truth is that Church Street Station is merely regaining its former level of bars/clubs as it was in its 90s glory days. Lets not forget that in the past 5 years there has actually been new services, such as Publix, 7-11, some attempts at retail (which unfortunately have not lasted), etc. SODO is also just South of the core, and an effective Lymmo extension would make these businesses very convenient to downtown.

Yes, there were bars before, but there were also many retail businesses in the Church Street Market and the Exchange. B. Dalton, Brookstone, Sharper Image, Victoria's Secret, Limited and some place in the Exchange where I bought Duck Heads whatever its name may be. The point is there was an effort, now there is none. Don't get me wrong - Publix was a huge win, but so we're done?

The question is whether you want a walkable downtown. Buses will get you a ways but not very far. Let's use castor for example, about as downtown-centric a fellow as you could find. Lynx buses run up and down Orange Ave. constantly, but he notes he drives to SuperTarget.

If we haven't won him over totally (and I'm not saying he's wrong at all, he's just a great example!), how can we expect anyone else to embrace a pedestrian-oriented community? There is simply a limit to how far people will walk or even take a bus. Now it may be, we have simply achieved all we can on this front. That seems to be the attitude when you ask folks at City Hall or DDB. But one does have to ask, just as an example, why is it many downtowns regularly attend ICSC conventions but not Orlando? Now, if retail was holding its own, you wouldn't hear a peep out of me about all the new bars added to the overabundance we already have - party on! But the simple fact is, just to use Thornton Park for an example, the majority of its non-food/alcohol retail has disappeared. What is Plan B. When we have reached the point where 7-Eleven is a big deal, doesn't that tell us just how far we've slipped? OK, rant over, please carry on!

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Yes, there were bars before, but there were also many retail businesses in the Church Street Market and the Exchange. B. Dalton, Brookstone, Sharper Image, Victoria's Secret, Limited and some place in the Exchange where I bought Duck Heads whatever its name may be. The point is there was an effort, now there is none. Don't get me wrong - Publix was a huge win, but so we're done?

The question is whether you want a walkable downtown. Buses will get you a ways but not very far. Let's use castor for example, about as downtown-centric a fellow as you could find. Lynx buses run up and down Orange Ave. constantly, but he notes he drives to SuperTarget.

If we haven't won him over totally (and I'm not saying he's wrong at all, he's just a great example!), how can we expect anyone else to embrace a pedestrian-oriented community? There is simply a limit to how far people will walk or even take a bus. Now it may be, we have simply achieved all we can on this front. That seems to be the attitude when you ask folks at City Hall or DDB. But one does have to ask, just as an example, why is it many downtowns regularly attend ICSC conventions but not Orlando? Now, if retail was holding its own, you wouldn't hear a peep out of me about all the new bars added to the overabundance we already have - party on! But the simple fact is, just to use Thornton Park for an example, the majority of its non-food/alcohol retail has disappeared. What is Plan B. When we have reached the point where 7-Eleven is a big deal, doesn't that tell us just how far we've slipped? OK, rant over, please carry on!

This stuff takes time. Be patient. The plan was to get people living downtown. To a large degree that has been a success. Now that the economy is turning around and people are investing again, this will follow.

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Yes, there were bars before, but there were also many retail businesses in the Church Street Market and the Exchange. B. Dalton, Brookstone, Sharper Image, Victoria's Secret, Limited and some place in the Exchange where I bought Duck Heads whatever its name may be. The point is there was an effort, now there is none. Don't get me wrong - Publix was a huge win, but so we're done?

Personally, I feel like the bars and clubs have a better chance of transforming Church Street into a destination than generic retail stores like the ones that were there years ago. It might be more one-dimensional but at least it'll be unique and ensure that people remain in the CBD well into the night. The first step towards getting all of these other services and establishments we want is to give people a reason to go downtown. It's hard to lure a lot of people in with retail-- especially with the chain stores that we have all over town. The Amway Center and new PAC will be huge catalysts so we should concentrate on providing services that complement those facilities. Let's give people unique restaurants to dine at before events and bars, clubs, and lounges to hang out at afterwards.

Also, unless you like driving to strip malls, there aren't a lot of districts around town that afford people the opportunity to bar-hop on-foot. I'm of the opinion that Downtown should capitalize on the fact that it features one of the most vibrant, walkable, and LOCAL nightlife scenes in Florida. If that means more bars opening up on Church Street, so be it. Let's keep that street festive!

I think we'll begin to see a steady increase of different businesses opening up downtown over the next couple of years as the economy improves, SunRail comes online, the PAC opens up, LYMMO gets expanded, and Amway Center proves itself to be a nexus of activity. It's only a matter of time before condo and hotel proposals start popping up on those MPB Agendas again, and the retail/residential services will follow.

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Yes, there were bars before, but there were also many retail businesses in the Church Street Market and the Exchange. B. Dalton, Brookstone, Sharper Image, Victoria's Secret, Limited and some place in the Exchange where I bought Duck Heads whatever its name may be. The point is there was an effort, now there is none. Don't get me wrong - Publix was a huge win, but so we're done?

The question is whether you want a walkable downtown. Buses will get you a ways but not very far. Let's use castor for example, about as downtown-centric a fellow as you could find. Lynx buses run up and down Orange Ave. constantly, but he notes he drives to SuperTarget.

If we haven't won him over totally (and I'm not saying he's wrong at all, he's just a great example!), how can we expect anyone else to embrace a pedestrian-oriented community? There is simply a limit to how far people will walk or even take a bus. Now it may be, we have simply achieved all we can on this front. That seems to be the attitude when you ask folks at City Hall or DDB. But one does have to ask, just as an example, why is it many downtowns regularly attend ICSC conventions but not Orlando? Now, if retail was holding its own, you wouldn't hear a peep out of me about all the new bars added to the overabundance we already have - party on! But the simple fact is, just to use Thornton Park for an example, the majority of its non-food/alcohol retail has disappeared. What is Plan B. When we have reached the point where 7-Eleven is a big deal, doesn't that tell us just how far we've slipped? OK, rant over, please carry on!

I have attended a few ICSC conventions and the DDB has been at least a few. I know they have exibited at the last two. If you want to know what they are doing about retail, talk to Davon Barbour. He is their retail guy and has experience with urban retail.

Urban retail is tough to do and be successful at. Publix may be a success but a lot of money was spent to get them Downtown. I do not expect to see good and services return to Downtown Orlando for a very, very long time. Bars and restaurants dominate the landscape because there still is demand for them. And they all pay top dollar in rent making it more difficult for other types of retail to get into the market.

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I firmly believe that the type of retail we will witness over the next decade will be business and commuter based -- chain retail will not come along for quite some time. The reason I believe Publix to be such a success is that it proves that locals are coming downtown, locals are living downtown, and it is sustainable. I personally welcome the influx of bars and nightlife to downtown Orlando, for the reasons mentioned above by bic. There are few unique urban environments in Florida, this is one of them.

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I do not expect to see good and services return to Downtown Orlando for a very, very long time.

Goods maybe, but Services?

A quick sampling on Central Ave and Thornton Park (and there may have been changes since the last time I paid attention there)....not including restaurants:

Closed: Obsession Botique, the clothing store next to Tijuana Flats, Urban Think

Still Open: Best cleaners, UPS store, Altamoda, Kennedy's

Services are great because you have to go to them (nixes internet shopping) - and if they provide a better service than the competition - then people will make their plans around a trip there.

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Who ever owns the retail space at Church Street to be honest. I do recall last year's NY Deal Making conference having some representatives from Downtown Brooklyn, but I didn't see that many municipal organizations. I have a meeting there in a few weeks. I can present the idea to membership that they reach out to them. It couldn't hurt.

Edited by mrh3
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  • 5 weeks later...

Dueling pianos return to Church Street

57873507.jpg

If the new Baby Grands Dueling Piano Bar is any indication, Church Street businesses are definitely getting overflow from the new Amway Center.

That or folks really missed having a piano bar to go to on Church Street in downtown Orlando. I think it's a little of both.

Those of you who came to Orlando after 2003 might not know thatHowl At The Moon, the popular International Drive piano bar, was originally at Church Street Market where 55 West now stands. The bar was an extremely popular downtown spot in the '90s, with lines wrapping out the door on most nights.

Howl closed in 2003 when the plans for 55 West were first introduced, and Church Street has been pianoless until a couple of months ago.

Read more about Dueling pianos return to Church Street here >>

Edited by DeepEyez
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