Mixed-Use Development on Orange Ave.

What’s at Stake?

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Mixed-Use Development on Orange Ave.

Guest Columnist Beth Hall


Mixed Use Development Community Input Session
The Community Center
Thursday — March 28th — 5:30 – 7:00 pm

Please Attend this Important Event

The whole of the Orange Avenue corridor and parts of Fairbanks Avenue are up for rezoning. Thousands of square feet of new retail, residential, and office space, as well as a Sun Rail station, may soon be in the works. All of Orange Avenue, both east and west of 17-92, is included in the rezoning initiative.

Impacts on Surrounding Neighborhoods

City Planning Director Bronce Stephenson is spearheading the push to obtain public input prior to making any changes to city codes. In addition to attending the public input session, another method for providing your feedback or asking questions is to use the newly created city e-mail address OrangeAve@cityofwinterpark.org. Stephenson is making himself available to meet with residents who have questions or input about the massive rezoning.

Mixed Use Development Already Permitted on Orange

For years, owners of the largest parcels on the Orange Avenue corridor have been unwilling to redevelop their sizable holdings under the City’s existing zoning guidelines. The guidelines already permit that combination of residential, office and retail uses otherwise known as “mixed-use.”

For as many years, the same owners have approached the city about opening the doors to more intensive redevelopment. Owners include the Holler family and Demetree Global, as well as the City of Winter Park, which holds about five acres at Progress Point. Changes to the Comprehensive Plan in 2017 gave land holders even more incentive to delay, since the changes called for new mixed-use standards or an ‘overlay’ to be devised by April 2018 – a deadline that came and went without fanfare almost a year ago.

Progress Point — From Albatross to Swan?

Because the city has long wrestled with the albatross property at Progress Point, mixed-use rezoning represents an opportunity to turn it into a swan. For every new zoning entitlement bestowed there, the amount a buyer must pay for it will increase accordingly. The need to sell this city-owned property has assumed a new urgency as the city copes with the $10 million budget shortfall for the Canopy Project.

Property Owners Aim to Go Bigger & Taller

With these three owners anxious to make big changes on the corridor, city planning staff are taking initial steps toward adoption of a new “mixed-use overlay.” Once in place, the overlay would allow redevelopment on a scale that will significantly exceed what would be permitted in the absence of the overlay or adoption of new zoning district standards.

In return for being able to build “bigger,” these landholders say, they will “give back” to city residents in a way that will benefit everyone. It is unclear what these gifts to residents might be. Infrastructure improvements, parking garages, or green space are just guesses.

Roadway Changes Possible — Is This Your Commute?

In an effort to calm or slow traffic, a road diet on Orange Avenue, similar to that implemented on Denning, is possible. Realigning or vacating interior roads between Orange Avenue and the railroad tracks are also possible outcomes. Roundabouts at intersections are another option.

Former Planning Director Dori Stone Kick-started Rezoning Effort

In July 10, 2018, at a city commission work session on mixed-use, former City Planning Director Dori Stone told commissioners that as a “legislative body” they had a responsibility to the community to “make this happen” and to “let the community know what this corridor needs to look like.”

Ms. Stone insisted that the 2017 Comprehensive Plan must be a “fluid” document, one that “changes with the times,” noting that some of Winter Park’s most “iconic places” are examples of “mixed use” development done before the city had a Comp Plan or stricter land use laws.

Leary Chimes In

More recently, on January 22, 2019, Mayor Steve Leary weighed in at the Chamber-sponsored State of the City address. Winter Park must undergo significant “generational customization,” he advised, as old ideas on what is desirable are discarded so a new version of Winter Park can emerge. Winter Park is in a “gangly” and awkward stage right now, Leary opined.

Once brand-new mixed-use standards and an overlay are adopted, taller and more massive buildings will “make a statement,” according to Stone. Existing smaller land owners on Orange Avenue will have the choice to re-develop under the new guidelines or to remain as they are.

Stephenson Welcomes Public Input

Stone’s replacement, Bronce Stephenson, is very enthusiastic about the yet to be explored possibilities for mixed use. Every move he has made has been aimed at inviting the community to take this journey based on a collaborative process. The input session on the 28th is one of only two. The second session targets land and business owners on the corridor, though the public is invited. At this stage, written notice to citizens of the process is not legally required.

The city has retained or will retain urban design experts to devise a master plan for the Orange Avenue mixed use overlay. The master plan will control the future of the corridor.

  • author's avatar

    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

  • author's avatar

15 replies
  1. The Sky's The Limit says:

    Now is this going to be another fake “public input session” like the ones with the Library Task Force where everything the residents said was ignored and the City Commission did whatever they damn well pleased?

    • crazyman says:

      Your email was bounced…

      Check out the response I got from the city regarding Orange Ave-I copied and pasted the email address!

      . because something went wrong between you and your recipient. Oh no!
      What to do next?

      Well, your specific problem was a 5.1.2 error.

      Which means you should: Check the “cityofwinterpark.com” part of “OrangeAve@cityofwinterpark.com” for misspellings or missing letters. If you find an error, correct it in your contacts list or address book for next time.

      Or further: It is possible that the domain is temporarily inactive. If the spelling looks correct, contact your mail provider and if necessary, contact your recipient another way (e.g., phone or text message).

  2. Traffic, traffic, traffic says:

    Road diet? We need an expansion. So are we going to eminent domain property on Orange or on Fairbanks for it? We can’t add all this expansion on already overburdened roadways that have no turn lanes. If I were a property owner on either I would be concerned for the future.

    • Garrick Spears says:

      Residents along Orange Ave are concerned! We’ve had two girls die at the end of driveway due to an accident a driver caused going over 100 mph. We’ve had a car land out of the air onto our fence 40′ into our property – it came out of the air after it bounced in our neighbors’ front yard. So, yeah, we are concerned. And yes, the answer is a road diet to curb the speeding, the accidents, the property damage and the deaths. None of this is exaggeration or hype. It’s all been well documented by the state and numerous news outlets including the Winter Park Voice. Expanding the road would only lead to more speeding and more accidents.

      Sadly, Winter Park is listening to businesses instead of residents. The mayor and some commissioners shared their intent prior to garnering residents’ input. There is an Orwin Manor neighborhood association which has the City’s ear but they represent about 3% of the residents – residents who pay to join the neighborhood group.

      In addition, Orange Ave is a state road governed by the FDOT; Winter Park and Orlando have vested interests in what the FDOT does. And again, none of them are valuing input from the residents directly impacted by their decisions.

      The State is proposing a diet to one lane each way with a center turn lane and bike lanes between 17/92 & Clay Ave and a round about at Clay. I can personally verify that the majority of Orange Ave residents support this proposal; some have concerns about the impact of a round about.

  3. Questions That Need Answers says:

    1. What could be built along this corridor if no rezoning is permitted?
    2. What was stopping the landholders from redeveloping under current codes?
    3. Why choose to make Orange Avenue the test case rather than Fairbanks where millions in
    infrastructure improvements have been made by the City?
    4. Since mixed use is already permitted on the corridor, why would we incentivize a different kind of mixed use?
    5. What are the traffic implications of redevelopment ? Will traffic studies be conducted?

    6. What measures is the city taking to protect the pre-existing property rights of homeowners in the adjacent neighborhoods?
    7. Won’t increased density and intensity of use on the corridor generate more traffic?
    8. Can you show me an illustration of what a C-3 or C-2 building looks like on a 1 or 2 acre parcel compared to O-1?
    9. What changes are planned for the impacted roads, including Orange Avenue? Will there be a traffic diet or
    road starving? Will any roads be vacated in the area to accommodate development?
    10. Will neighborhood input sessions be held for residents of Orwin Manor, Mead Gardens area, Minnesota or
    Denning Dr neighborhoods? If so, when.
    11. What is the maximum height under the current height map?
    12. Do you anticipate that parking garages will be included or excluded from calculations of FAR in this new
    zoning district or in the overlay?
    13. Will hotels be a permitted use in the new zoning district?
    14. What will the intensity of residential development be in the new zoning district or overlay? R-3? R-2?
    15. Pictures speak so much more clearly than words. Will you bring illustrations of what the various zoning
    changes would look like on multiple sizes of parcels? 1 acre? 2 acres? 3 acres? 4 acres?
    16. Are nearby schools able to handle increased numbers of students?
    17. Is the infrastructure for all utilities and storm water in place to accommodate redevelopment?
    18. Who will pay for any necessary infrastructure enhancements?
    19. Does the recent parking modernization component of our code mean that developers won’t be required to
    provide as much parking as they did before the code was changed? How will we ensure that parking for
    all uses is adequate?
    20. What will the traffic impacts be to the surrounding residential areas as well as on 17-92?

    • Answers says:

      It is imperative that the increased density be allowed immediately because the Mayor has an ownership interest in commercial property located within the affected areas.

      • Dial Up For Development says:

        My exact thought. Crooked Leary owns property on Orange Ave, he’s gotta get the zoning changed before he terms out.

  4. I Heart Mead Gardens says:

    I remember when Pete Weldon was proposing a 77 room hotel at Progress Point. Is this still possible? I also remember when an active senior living complex was proposed there. Wouldn’t that be like Villa Tuscany Memory Center being plopped down in this neighborhood. Orange Ave really is a neighborhood. At least for now.

  5. Marty Sullivan says:

    My wish is that Orange Avenue redevelopment is in the best interest of the citizens of Winter Park. Our quality of life rises above personal financial interests.
    Others have conflicting financial interest in addition to the Holler family and Mary Demetree.
    What about Mayor Steven Leary, another significant property owner? His financial interest is with”Lumber Yard LLC” and “LG Capital Advisors, LLC”.

  6. Ravaudage Book Ends on 17-92 says:

    Ravaudage lies at one end of 17-92 at the entrance to WP. If this re-zoning effort by the Holler/Demetree/City of WP is successful, there is a high probability that a mini-Ravaudage will emerge at Orange Ave & 17-92, Denning and Fairbanks. No written notice to these neighborhoods will be required until we get to the P & Z stage of approvals.

    Like Bambi’s mother, these neighborhoods will never know what hit them.

  7. Ravaudage Is the Horror Story says:

    Well said. Just hold up a mirror to Ravaudage and voila–here’s what you get when you are not paying attention. Horror 101. My recommendation: if the city wants to experiment with mixed use in a new world way–take it to West Fairbanks or West Lee Road. Show us! Show us what you can do right. Don’t come into the heart of our neighborhoods with the message “Just Trust Us”. Those days are over.

  8. Manhattan Wampum says:

    With what they are expecting to pay for “The Canopy,” Commissioners could have bought over HALF of Ravadage when the entire subdivision was for sale not much more than a few years ago for $70 million.

    Of all the blunders, missteps and foibles of The Winter Park City Commission, blowing $40 million on a library and events center and forgoing the opportunity of the millennium to buy Ravaudage for perpetual green space will go down in history as the silliest thing this Commission ever did.

    Generations will laugh at the foolishness.

  9. Nora says:

    Yet, our voters keep voting in these people–Mayor and some Commissioners- who keep fooling the people into spending money and ruining neighborhoods and all of Winter Park while they are at it.



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