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SuperMan11MS

Orlando's Main Streets

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I think this has been mentioned here before, but I really believe that Virginia Drive is the single most underdeveloped section of Uptown, with the most potential.

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I think this has been mentioned here before, but I really believe that Virginia Drive is the single most underdeveloped section of Uptown, with the most potential.

I agree, I think Virginia's a really important link between Mills50 and Ivanhoe. It's actually a pretty nice area, so I wouldn't say "underdeveloped," but something's definitely missing. Maybe some small apartments and restaurants/bars? Or maybe they like it quiet in their neck of the woods?

Am I the only one annoyed that Mills50 is such a huge area? I think they've done some great work (banners, electrical boxes), but I feel like it waters down two distinct sections of town. To me, Mills and 50 is Little Vietnam or Little Saigon, while "ViMi" (which I guess they gave up on because of the confusion with Vietnam) is the more artsy, independent, gay, and restaurant area.

Now, I don't know the politics behind everything, but the ViMi group seems to have taken over Little Saigon completely. If you look at the official Main Street business directory for Mills50, the only Asian restaurant on there is the brand new Hawkers -- none of the great restaurants people come to this area for is on there, like the namesake Little Saigon. No Asian-owned medical or shopping, either. Under "Our Neighborhoods," they only list Eola, Highland, and Colonialtown. Under their "Diversity Pillar" they say you can "...pick up some fried rice..." What? One of the most interesting parts of town with award-winning food, and that's what they came up with, "some fried rice"?

I'm not in any way trying to discredit ViMi/Mills50, because that area is unique and cool, too. This recent article talks about the improvements they've done. But again, words like "artsy" and "funky" are definitely Mills-Virginia and not Mills-Colonial. Barely a mention of the Asian community at all. They better do something before all the Asian businesses and restaurants take to strip malls around town, losing any hope of every having a true ethnic enclave in Orlando.

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I agree, I think Virginia's a really important link between Mills50 and Ivanhoe. It's actually a pretty nice area, so I wouldn't say "underdeveloped," but something's definitely missing. Maybe some small apartments and restaurants/bars? Or maybe they like it quiet in their neck of the woods?

Am I the only one annoyed that Mills50 is such a huge area? I think they've done some great work (banners, electrical boxes), but I feel like it waters down two distinct sections of town. To me, Mills and 50 is Little Vietnam or Little Saigon, while "ViMi" (which I guess they gave up on because of the confusion with Vietnam) is the more artsy, independent, gay, and restaurant area.

Now, I don't know the politics behind everything, but the ViMi group seems to have taken over Little Saigon completely. If you look at the official Main Street business directory for Mills50, the only Asian restaurant on there is the brand new Hawkers -- none of the great restaurants people come to this area for is on there, like the namesake Little Saigon. No Asian-owned medical or shopping, either. Under "Our Neighborhoods," they only list Eola, Highland, and Colonialtown. Under their "Diversity Pillar" they say you can "...pick up some fried rice..." What? One of the most interesting parts of town with award-winning food, and that's what they came up with, "some fried rice"?

I'm not in any way trying to discredit ViMi/Mills50, because that area is unique and cool, too. This recent article talks about the improvements they've done. But again, words like "artsy" and "funky" are definitely Mills-Virginia and not Mills-Colonial. Barely a mention of the Asian community at all. They better do something before all the Asian businesses and restaurants take to strip malls around town, losing any hope of every having a true ethnic enclave in Orlando.

Agreed, that fried rice comment was borderline ignorant. Could have referenced pho or something else. Vietnamese are pretty practical folks. They do not need banners or be included with some catch phrases. They will continue to work, because their bottom line is money.

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I agree, I think Virginia's a really important link between Mills50 and Ivanhoe. It's actually a pretty nice area, so I wouldn't say "underdeveloped," but something's definitely missing. Maybe some small apartments and restaurants/bars? Or maybe they like it quiet in their neck of the woods?

Am I the only one annoyed that Mills50 is such a huge area? I think they've done some great work (banners, electrical boxes), but I feel like it waters down two distinct sections of town. To me, Mills and 50 is Little Vietnam or Little Saigon, while "ViMi" (which I guess they gave up on because of the confusion with Vietnam) is the more artsy, independent, gay, and restaurant area.

Now, I don't know the politics behind everything, but the ViMi group seems to have taken over Little Saigon completely. If you look at the official Main Street business directory for Mills50, the only Asian restaurant on there is the brand new Hawkers -- none of the great restaurants people come to this area for is on there, like the namesake Little Saigon. No Asian-owned medical or shopping, either. Under "Our Neighborhoods," they only list Eola, Highland, and Colonialtown. Under their "Diversity Pillar" they say you can "...pick up some fried rice..." What? One of the most interesting parts of town with award-winning food, and that's what they came up with, "some fried rice"?

I'm not in any way trying to discredit ViMi/Mills50, because that area is unique and cool, too. This recent article talks about the improvements they've done. But again, words like "artsy" and "funky" are definitely Mills-Virginia and not Mills-Colonial. Barely a mention of the Asian community at all. They better do something before all the Asian businesses and restaurants take to strip malls around town, losing any hope of every having a true ethnic enclave in Orlando.

I believe alex is on the right track in saying that it was political, but less in a "we win-you lose" way than simply that everyone is not at the table. Over the years, there have been hit and miss attempts for the Vietnamese community to become more involved in the city's neighborhood programs, but it has never really quite worked. Initially, members of the Vietnamese community wanted to designate the area "Little Saigon," but longtime Colonialtown residents thought that was going a little too far (mind you, some of this goes back to the late 70's, when Orlando was somewhat less progressive than it has become over the years).

That, of course, made the Vietnamese community feel somewhat less than welcome, but when CVS tried to level the SE corner to build a big box, the bubbas and the burgeoning gay community banded together with them to stop destruction of the heart of the Vietnamese retail community (it proved unnecessary- within a couple of years, CVS bought Eckerd from JCPenney and ended up with a store on the NE corner). As a result, there was a brief era of good feeling among the neighborhood players.

Alas, it was not to last. As a series of Vietnamese developers began buying more properties along Colonial, arguments over parking (between the Vietnamese Superstore - the old Helmly/Rooms To Go Store - and the Subway next door) and then the forced closing of longtime landmark Piccadilly Cafeteria (which managed to alienate many of downtown's churchgoers and civic clubs who had been going there for over 40 years), things once again slid back.

City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, who used her leadership in Colonialtown North activities to facilitate her election and has represented the area for 3 terms now, has worked actively to promote the ViMi district as the gay community first decided to try and make it the city's "gay district." Patty, of course, is gay, and so has a natural rapport with that group. While she has certainly attempted to be inclusive with the Vietnamese community, her relationships aren't as close. Over the years, there have been disagreements between the bubbas, the Vietnamese and the gay communities as they tried to forge a common vision. Then, as the neighborhood became more popular, more and more folks who don't fit into any of the three main affinity groups have moved in because they liked the area, the schools and the fact the housing was more affordable than downtown. That brings yet another group to the mix.

For the most part, the Vietnamese community has become increasingly less active and concentrated on doing their own thing, and the bubbas are becoming less of a factor simply by the passage of time. If the Vietnamese community were to become more politically active, things might change, but with Patty running for reelection and most of the dynamic activity going on north of 50 these days, I wouldn't look for major changes soon. Meanwhile, for what is a somewhat progressive neighborhood, I agree the "fried rice" description showed a stunning lack of attention to the local culture.

Edited by spenser1058

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Mills 50 is definitely seeing a lot of activity right now. I just wish it was a bit more pedestrian friendly. Trying to exit your parallel parked car is rather scary. It is nothing like the slower paced, 2-lane streets of College Park or Ivanhoe. Also, there are no crosswalks to get from one side of the street to the other. This area is becoming something of an un-downtown bar hopping scene, so the last thing we need are people crossing a 4-lane road after a few drinks and getting run over.<br><br>Mills Park, at least according to the last update on their website on April 12 of this year, is back on track. However, I drive by there all the time and I see no activity. That development would certainly bring a lot more foot traffic to all those places, including Virginia Drive.<br><br>The Milk District also deserves at least a mention here. I don't think it qualifies for main street designation yet because it is so small, but it is cool to see a new district developing.

Edited by Pete C

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"Gay" district? I didn't think those even existed still. That fad is long gone - "gay" people are no longer an ethnic group.

While I like the idea for my own purposes of a "Little Vietnam", the fact is that ethnic neighborhoods are that way because they end up together as a kind of social defense mechanism. I find it amusing, and slightly ironic - how some cities try to create ethnic neighborhoods. That's what you have Epcot for. If all the Vietnamese end up moving out into some strip malls in another part of the city - great! Now you have developed a NEW little Vietnam! Let it happen naturally - don't try to force it.

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"Gay" district? I didn't think those even existed still. That fad is long gone - "gay" people are no longer an ethnic group.

While I like the idea for my own purposes of a "Little Vietnam", the fact is that ethnic neighborhoods are that way because they end up together as a kind of social defense mechanism. I find it amusing, and slightly ironic - how some cities try to create ethnic neighborhoods. That's what you have Epcot for. If all the Vietnamese end up moving out into some strip malls in another part of the city - great! Now you have developed a NEW little Vietnam! Let it happen naturally - don't try to force it.

In fact, "Little Saigon" WAS created by the Vietnamese community - believe me, there were plenty of folks in Colonialtown who hated the idea when it began in the late '70's. The same with the ViMi district in the late 80's. Both areas continue to be easily identifiable because of the concentration of Vietnamese and gay facilities, respectively. Of course, thanks to the diversity of the Orlando area, they are not the ONLY such areas: there is now a Vietnamese retail area in Pine Hills, and Orlando's gay population is spread out across several areas (although the gay bars have largely yet to make it to the suburbs). Despite all that, Mills50 is still well known for both its Vietnamese merchants and restaurants and for gay-friendly establishments such as the GLBTCenter, Paradise, Sip, Peacock Room, etc. It only makes sense when branding the area to play to your strengths. Park Avenue in WP has just gone through a very similar process where they have identified a very different clientele.

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This begs the question, why isn't the Parramore District a "Main Street Neighborhood?"

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The video ended by noting that Semoran would be officially added next year. I had a thread started about the stuff that was starting on Semoran. I think it's interesting the city is willing to put their successful Main Street brand onto that stretch of 436 from Brosche to LaCosta.

436 is a beast of a road and so far they have built a "community" WALL.

Bumby would be a much more practical investment. They could call it "Bumby and Milk"

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The end of the video is a little misleading. The Main Street program, from what I understand, is a national program that Orlando has adopted. "Main Streets" must meet certain criteria that you can find on their website. Orlando's five "Main Streets" are the ones we've listed previously. Because it has been so successful, Orlando has now come up with their very own "Market Street" term which applies to many other areas that don't quite meet the national main street programs' criteria but areas that Orlando would still like to stimulate. These include the Milk District, Semoran, Baldwin Park, and maybe some others that I can't remember.

One other thing, the video focused heavily on College Park. I just moved there and can tell you that the video is accurate in showing the amount of activity there. I believe Wildside is having their grand opening this week. We went last week and it was packed. Also, Graffiti Junktion is always busy and just opened a sister restaurant, Backyard BBQ, next door.

Edited by SuperMan11MS

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Church Street District and Semoran Business District are 2 new additions to the main street program as of today.

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I really don't understand the Semoran Business District as a part of the main street program.

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I really don't understand the Semoran Business District as a part of the main street program.

The section of 436 between Colonial Dr. and the East-West goes back to the early Azalea Park days, and has a few in-scale centers left that have a neighborhood feel. Also, the old Winn-Dixie and Park & Shop shopping centers have quite a few mom and pop stores servicing the neighborhoods abutting Semoran.

Mostly, it's a political gesture as the Hispanic community has claimed that section as their own. It's a tough row to hoe given the racetrack feel of 436, but let's wish them Godspeed.

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Also probably a political gesture in terms of every commissioner getting one.

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Any more information on the Church Street District's addition?

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Welcome to the club, Thornton Park District

Is South Eola going to be included in this district?

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I agree, I think Virginia's a really important link between Mills50 and Ivanhoe. It's actually a pretty nice area, so I wouldn't say "underdeveloped," but something's definitely missing. Maybe some small apartments and restaurants/bars? Or maybe they like it quiet in their neck of the woods?

Am I the only one annoyed that Mills50 is such a huge area? I think they've done some great work (banners, electrical boxes), but I feel like it waters down two distinct sections of town. To me, Mills and 50 is Little Vietnam or Little Saigon, while "ViMi" (which I guess they gave up on because of the confusion with Vietnam) is the more artsy, independent, gay, and restaurant area.

Now, I don't know the politics behind everything, but the ViMi group seems to have taken over Little Saigon completely. If you look at the official Main Street business directory for Mills50, the only Asian restaurant on there is the brand new Hawkers -- none of the great restaurants people come to this area for is on there, like the namesake Little Saigon. No Asian-owned medical or shopping, either. Under "Our Neighborhoods," they only list Eola, Highland, and Colonialtown. Under their "Diversity Pillar" they say you can "...pick up some fried rice..." What? One of the most interesting parts of town with award-winning food, and that's what they came up with, "some fried rice"?

I'm not in any way trying to discredit ViMi/Mills50, because that area is unique and cool, too. This recent article talks about the improvements they've done. But again, words like "artsy" and "funky" are definitely Mills-Virginia and not Mills-Colonial. Barely a mention of the Asian community at all. They better do something before all the Asian businesses and restaurants take to strip malls around town, losing any hope of every having a true ethnic enclave in Orlando.

http://www.visitflorida.com/articles/the-evolving-identity-of-orlandos-little-vietnam

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It is indeed all about politics, or more specifically, cultures. The Vietnamese community opted out of Mills50 for the most part. As someone who's had some involvement, I can tell you there have been miscues from all sides over the years and for the most part everyone has been doing their own thing. Some of the ruptures run as deep as Middle East fault lines so I don't expect much to change at this point, but there's always hope.

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I've heard that Mills50 considered the Chinese New Year celebration/parade last year a success (although I was unable to attend) and are working with the same group of partners to repeat the event this year. I think this is progress to bridging the gap between some of the ethnic communities and the mainstreet district.

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Last year featured Panda Express and didn't notice too many local businesses featured.

I guess it's all about how they define success

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Panda Express really? Its like Taco Bell sponsoring Cinco De Mayo.

ViMi area reminds me more of mini-mini-houston or san jose rather than NY or san fran chinatown. At the end of the day they get into their lexus or benz and head towards Ocoee.

IMO they should have brand it MillsVirg because mills50 area has a totally different vibe.

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Panda Express really? Its like Taco Bell sponsoring Cinco De Mayo.

ViMi area reminds me more of mini-mini-houston or san jose rather than NY or san fran chinatown. At the end of the day they get into their lexus or benz and head towards Ocoee.

IMO they should have brand it MillsVirg because mills50 area has a totally different vibe.

I agree with Tennis. Mills50 (Little Saigon) has a completey different vibe from "VirginMills." The area around Virgina/Mills is more hipster, comparable to Los Angeles' Melrose Avenue if the cuurent trend continues.

I think that Mills50 businesses should invest in streetscaping and facade work to better identify it as a Vietnamese neighborhood. If the cafes offered streetside dining, it could really change the area.

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