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prahaboheme

Windermere

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I think this will be a great change for Windermere, perhaps making it a bit more like Winter Park or Thornton Park:

Windermere project puts church in jeopardy

Residents hope to preserve the old sanctuary

By Beth Kassab | Sentinel Staff Writer

Posted December 31, 2004

By this time next year, Windermere expects its three-block downtown to be on its way to a major transformation.

The streets will be bricked. The intersections will have roundabouts like those near Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. The sidewalks will be widened.

And the days of a long-standing centerpiece of this rustic community will be numbered.

The Windermere Union Church, formed in 1916, is slated to come down when developer Kevin Azzouz creates a proposed town center with a mix of retail shops and restaurants.

A group of residents is rushing to raise $350,000 to save the church's sanctuary, originally built in the 1920s, and move it to the town square.

"It's got a lot of meaning for a lot of people," said Bill Sims, 82, who married his wife in the sanctuary in 1947. "It's been in Windermere so long, a lot of people [would] hate to see it gone."

Suzi Karr, a real-estate agent based in Windermere, is leading the fund-raising effort to save the sanctuary and move it to town property, where it will be used for meetings, parties, weddings and other events.

"It was never designated historical," Karr said. "But it is old and a big part of Windermere's history. We feel that once it's moved over to the town square and preserved, we'll have one of the prettiest town squares in the United States."

But whether enough money will be raised and exactly where the sanctuary's new resting place would be remains to be seen. The Town Council approved the concept earlier this year but stipulated that it must still give final approval to the new location.

Some skeptics question whether the 2,500-square-foot building, which has gone through several renovations, will survive the move.

Karr said a preliminary engineer's report shows that it will.

Fund raising, she said, is the next challenge.

"Anybody wanting to give a super big amount, we can name one of the rooms after them," she said.

The church, which plans to move the sanctuary's stained-glass windows to its new building proposed for Parkridge-Gotha Road, sold its property to Azzouz in 2002 for $1.4 million, according to property records.

The town plans to start the $3 million worth of construction on the new sidewalks, roundabouts and brick streets in January. That will set the stage for Azzouz to come in and build his proposed town center, a drastic change for the town that has mostly dirt roads nestled among the Butler Chain of Lakes.

That's why many in the town want to see the sanctuary preserved, Mayor Gary Bruhn said.

"A lot of people feel very drawn to that," said Bruhn, a member of the church. "There's a lot of residents in this town who were married in that church or their children were baptized in that church."

Plans showing the roundabouts, brick streets, decorative lighting and landscaping:

15668623.jpg

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Your reference to Windermere as "Winder-ghetto" is disconcerting but unfortunately accurate.

The history of Windermere shows a once vibrant town with a mixed-use town center (residential over retail...gasp!!!) serving as a focal point for the community. I know this because I have spent the past two years working with Carl Patterson (the town historian) on his new book on the history of Windermere. The town was allowed to decline from the mid-60s to today primarily because of the suburban sprawl mentality that infected this country for too long. Thankfully the leadership in Windermere has decided to do something to manage traffic and ensure that ANY renovation of the existing town center is done according to very strict ordinance requirements. I plan to participate in the rebirth of Windermere.

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the rebirth of windermere? it is one of the hottest, and most expensive residential markets in the state.

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Windermere is very exclusive from my knowledge of it, Shaq had a house there and Tiger Woods has his primary residence in that area. When Arnold Palmer finally gave up his roots in Pittsburgh and moved south for Winter Golfing for good (though he still comes for a visit every summer and lobbies the PGA for Pittsburgh's Oakmont CC in US Open tourneys) he moved to Windermere and founded Bay Hill CC there. At least thats what I've heard about the city. To look on a map though the BH CC and most of the new "exclusive" areas are just out of the town limits which look like they've been frozen in 1950 right between the lakes, very very tiny town in land area I'm guessing maybe 3 sq. miles max if that, for basically the Beverly Hills of Orlando (don't tell that to Winter Park) thats really not a good thing, most of its post-1960 development with Arnie Palmer, Tiger Woods and Shaq have benefited the area outside the city but with its post office. The city must expand it honestly is only 8-10 blocks long and 3-4 blocks wide (correct me if I'm wrong there but it is very close to that from my memory). To add one home to the vincinty since 1960 means you have to LEAVE the city limit, not good in my mind, they should really try to annex the whole postal zone.

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Cityplace (that huge mix-use area in WPB) saved the old First United Methodist Church building and used it to its advantage. A Starbucks, Sunglass Hut, and various restaurants now occupy the ground floor, where the Sunday School classrooms used to be. And the old sanctuary on the second floor is now a cultural arts center, hosting proms, concerts, wine tastings and more. It would be great to see this place save their history, so total gentrification could somehow be avoided.

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The reason I call it "Winder-ghetto" is because of the proliferation of gated communities that have sprung up on the outskirts of Windermere, without regard to the detrimental impacts they are causing. After all, the original Venetian "Ghetto" was a gated community that kept a certain community locked up at night. To me, the walls are just as bad as graffitti on our urban landscape; it is essentially graffitti for rich people - it defines "territory" through an undesirable element.

Even I get extremely frustrated with the gate system that are so ubiquitous these days; every stupid apartment complex and subdivision seems to have the need for them. I believe that these gates are around sooo much that they now pratically serve the purpose of keeping people "in" the compound rather than out - similar to the original "Ghetto".

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Yeah I wondered where the "ghetto" thing was coming from. If the city could annex the surrounding are it would help regulate development for the greater good. Just my opinion but that is the origin to most of the problems in that area of metro Orlando.

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Are we speaking of the same Windermere? Within the town limits the property values have suffered in comparison to the surrounding area. The gated community of Isleworth which is NOT in Windermere has had significantly higher increases in value on a percentage basis. Windermere is a charming traditional town that has been allowed to decline over the past twenty-five years...properties have experienced increases in value but this has been disproportionate in favor of those homes with exclusive lake frontage. The majority of the homes with interior lots have not fared as well. Windermere will benefit from the new sense of leadership and focus on improving key community assets including the grid street system, water management and sewer systems and the main street traffic management. The new architectural standards for commercial construction within the town center will ensure that Windermere maintains its historical charm.

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The reason I call it "Winder-ghetto" is because of the proliferation of gated communities that have sprung up on the outskirts of Windermere, without regard to the detrimental impacts they are causing.  After all, the original Venetian "Ghetto" was a gated community that kept a certain community locked up at night.  To me, the walls are just as bad as graffitti on our urban landscape; it is essentially graffitti for rich people - it defines "territory" through an undesirable element.

Even I get extremely frustrated with the gate system that are so ubiquitous these days; every stupid apartment complex and subdivision seems to have the need for them.  I believe that these gates are around sooo much that they now pratically serve the purpose of keeping people "in" the compound rather than out - similar to the original "Ghetto".

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I live in a "gated" community and I really don't see the point. It doesn't stop anyone from walking around the gate, and it doesn't stop people from just following the car in front of you in.

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