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Downtown Orlando Project Discussion


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Regina Hill (newly elected Commissioner of District 5, which includes the CBD for some reason as well as Parramore and off to the west) spoke at a meeting today sponsored by Church Street District at Mad Cow.

 

Lots of business managers/owners, but didn't really see any residents besides myself.  Probably because it was at 2PM.

 

I voiced my (our) general concerns.  DDB and DTO are doing things, and the buzzword is stakeholders, but they're leaving out one of the biggest stakeholders.  The DT homeowners/renters that spend all the money downtown.  Reiterated the need for retail, specifically a pharmacy, and the need to involve the UrbanPlanet/Bungalower/etc community that wants to be carless (or car-minimal) and do everything in the area.

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Thank you, AndyPok and everyone who has made suggestions on a topic that, as Jernigan has noted, seems awfully worn out. The reason I keep mentioning it is that, since 2008, we've been totally stalled, when just a little of progress each year could make such a difference.

 

A bike shop this year, a drug store next year, then a flower store - before you know it we hit a tipping point where (retail being something of a herd animal) everyone wants to be back downtown.

 

Since we UP'ers all follow this stuff every day, I don't think we always appreciate just how unusual a downtown we've got. It only pops up when we see something like that 35% growth in residents number.

 

The truth is, most U.S. downtowns (particularly in the South) are still ghost towns after 5pm.  So many downtowns were cut off by urban renewal and interstate construction in the 50s and 60s that all sentient life evaporated except in the office towers.

 

Other cities (Atlanta, anyone?) have their key arts areas separate and apart from downtown. Atlanta has had sports facilities downtown, but, of course, the Braves are leaving, and downtown Atlanta has never been particularly walkable (I used to work for the General Assembly downtown).

 

Orlando, otoh, has had people downtown and immediately next door all along. It's a relatively compact downtown and Eola Park just makes this a place people want to be. We are about to have both sports and arts venues within walking distance. This is very different from most Sunbelt downtowns.

 

Also, as we know from the TIME cover story on "Orlando" (the cover photo was of -what was then- Disney-MGM Studios), or the recent piece in WSJ about Lake Nona without so much as a mention of downtown, or all those folks who think downtown Orlando is located along International Drive, even the movers and shakers elsewhere just don't "get" what we have to offer in our central core.

 

That's what we need someone to do now, to finish the retail piece. Spread the good word that what we know to be true about downtown isn't what the rest of the world thinks it knows about us. If all of us are doing that, our leaders WILL take notice (Buddy is keenly aware that the downtown voters put him in office and keep him there in the low-turnout mayoral elections). The Sentinel and The Weekly will bang the drum a little louder (even suburban maven Beth Kassab has noticed downtown's paucity of retail). If we constantly let folks know that the Eola Publix gets a little more crowded every time we go and that we'd kill for a pharmacy open past 8pm, someone will get the hint and pass it on.

 

The Orlando Weekly summed it up pretty well: 

  • "And it isn’t simply that downtown is the mixing bowl of all of Orlando’s people and cultures, that it’s typically neglected by tourists and sacred ground to those who reside here year-round. No, the true pull is not a business, a restaurant or even the swans at Lake Eola Park – it’s all of this and more, and it’s the defining locale for our most immediate initial memories as residents of the City Beautiful."
 
Thanks again to everyone for passing the good word about downtown along!
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Edited by spenser1058
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I would think the space next to Publix on Central would be the next retail location to get a corporate tenant.  Just like locating next to a Publix in the suburbs, the grocery store draws so many people to the building. There is parking for those who would prefer to drive.  I see something like Unleashed (the small-footprint version of PetCo) there.  I also think that a Best Buy mobile could find a place downtown or in Eola South.

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Best Buy mobile is great when you just want to get in, buy a $40 HDMI cord and get out ;)

Would love a hardware store nearby. Mostly condos outside of Post and short walk to 2 bungalow neighborhoods.

That location would be perfect for a hardware store.  I get the feeling rent must be too high for the retail space in that building

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Orlando Sentinel downtown property slated to become hotel, apartments and more

 

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According to the city of Orlando's Municipal Planning Board meeting documentation, the multi-phase development will be split into two phases with a total of 746 apartment units, a 144-room hotel, 280,000 square feet of office space, 56,000 square feet of retail and two parking garages with a total of 2,075 parking spaces.

 

The two parcels will be broken up as follows: The south block will have a 318-unit apartment complex, 140,000 square feet of office space, 28,000 square feet of commercial retail and a 910-space parking garage. The north block will include a 428-unit apartment complex, 140,000 square feet of office space, 28,000 square feet of commercial retail, a 910-space parking garage and a 144-room hotel.

 

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Developer converting historic church near Lake Eola into townhomes
 
 

 

Glad to see this in play before it goes the way of Tinker Field:

 

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-developer-converting-historic-church-lake-eola-townhomes-20140828,0,1039592.post

 

I'm still a little disappointed The Center lost its shot at it, since it's apparent the Catholic Diocese never planned to do anything with it; nevertheless, at least it seems a good project.

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I don't think retail facing Orange is terrible. Seems to me that there's a higher traffic count there that should drive retail, maybe even big box retail which would serve as neighborhood anchors. The Concord Street side would be much more livable for residents if it is developed this way.

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I don't think retail facing Orange is terrible. Seems to me that there's a higher traffic count there that should drive retail, maybe even big box retail which would serve as neighborhood anchors. The Concord Street side would be much more livable for residents if it is developed this way.

 

It's not that I don't like the retail facing Orange, I was just hoping that the retail would also wind around and through the complex with something like an interior promenade. Still, 56,000 sq ft is quite a bit and maybe with all these apartments around that area we will see them succeed.

Edited by Pete C
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We called it long ago, and with the Sentinel's new ownership - although not sure how this is tied to that deal - this is as good of a time as any. 

 

It's interesting - the NW corner of the site isn't owned by the Sentinel and not part of this project - if the City buys that and Mama B's, it could be developed into a landmark gateway or attraction.

The NE corner of the site is slated for surface parking.  With the number of DU and offices on site, there still seems to be plenty of structured parking - could this be a third phase on the horizon?

 

If Orange and Magnolia become two-way streets, and there is thoughtful interface along Orange Ave, this could really become a walkable area similar to Central Blvd. And if retail is successful, the first floor of Camden may be reverted to its original use. 

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I do hope the Sentinel newsroom stays put - I'd hate them to move out to the 'burbs like Cox did with the AJC in Atlanta.

 

Sentinel says they are staying put, hopefully that translates to filling office space in a new building on site:  http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-orlando-sentinel-property-development-20140828,0,754365.story

I'm a little confused at why all the open space, if any corner in Orlando should be dense it's this one. I get that this is just the primary feelers but this design is uninspiring to say the least.

That block deserves better than this.

 

Don't take much stock in the massing sketches.  That is all they are.  That said, remember that this is a massive two blocks in an area of downtown that completely lacks any open space at all, so a plaza or pocket park would seem appropriate on such a big swath of land. 

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MBP Staff report is not out...the Sentinel and OBJ are reporting from the recap sheet and some renderings the City sent over. I'm heading to see the actual plan today..I'll get something up early next week. Hopefully with more information. We also will fill folks in on the current property lease the Sentinel has (as much as we can).

 

IF the Sentinel moves, the smart money says they will keep the newsroom in the downtown area but move the printing press out to an industrial area. The issue is the printing presses are very expensive to move. It's possible they are so expensive that the cost and payback overtime just isn't there. This means they would need to have the paper printed by someone else...that would not be a good situation. The good news is they probably have 10-20 years to figure this out.

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A little snooping in the dark corners of the interwebs told me that a 20 year printing capital investment cycle is becoming the norm again and as far as I could find the last upgrade, which was major allowing the Sentinel to have more color, was in 1996. The Sentinel's Commercial Printing page says they do a lot of other printing including USA Today and The New York Times,

 

I'd be willing to bet they are looking at upping the technology unless they also took advantage of it around 2007 which increased efficiency. Getting the plant off the expensive land with poor truck driving streets and into a new modern facility with a better distribution location makes an awful lot of sense. Especially as they will now have some new rents as they will be leasing not selling the land. Getting into a more modern and well wired offices can only help as the OS expands its online presence.

 

But I'm just guessing here, no inside info.

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Two 7-Elevens and a WaWa - Tom Chatmon will think we're gonna take out Worth Avenue! As long as we're doing a WaWa, it really would be nice to have a gas station on the south side of Colonial again (it's a pain to get to the, ummmm, 7-Eleven on the north side and the alternative is to go over to Colonialtown or across Lake Lucerne to Orange and Gore). Hank's old Chevron where the VUE sits was so convenient. Oh well, progress!

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