Commissioners approve Storyville Coffee and more Christmas lights, but reject canal murals

The board also decided to hire a town architect

May 23, 2024

By Beth Kassab

City Commissioners approved plans for a new building known as the Storyville Coffee project and doubled the public budget for Christmas lights, but rejected a proposal to paint murals to the canal bridges that connect the city’s famous chain of lakes.

The Storyville Coffee project from Full Sail founder Jon Phelps won unanimous approval by the board after a redo of its design to blend more closely with the surrounding Central Business District. The building on South Knowles Avenue will top 11,000 square feet and contain offices and a residence on the second and third floors.

Christmas lights

Commissioners this week also welcomed plans by the Park Avenue District to expand the city’s Christmas display, pledging another $50,000 from the general fund and what will likely be an additional $50,000 from the Community Redevelopment Agency Fund. The portion from the CRA board won’t be finalized until a later meeting of that board.

The new expenditures will come on top of the $96,000 already in the city budget for holiday decor.

The nearly $200,000 total commitment doubles the city’s expenditure on Christmas decorations and the newest portion will be provided as a match of up to $100,000 raised privately by the district.

The idea is for the display at Central Park and Park Avenue along with Hannibal Square and Morse Boulevard to be more immersive and attract more visitors to shop and dine in the area. A sample mood board for the additions includes lots more lights, magnolia flowers and oranges and immersive light experiences such as archways.

Canal Murals

Commissioners gave a thumbs down to an idea from the Public Art Advisory Board to commission artists to paint murals under the canal bridges that connect the Chain of Lakes.

The canals pose too harsh an environment for art, several commissioners said.

“I love murals, but they have to be put in the right place,” Weaver said. “This is kind of a nasty environment for fine artwork.”

Commissioner Craig Russell said he loved the idea and made a motion to pursue the murals, but it failed for lack of a second from another commissioner.

Town Architect

Winter Park will hire a town architect, likely as a contracted role to be called on as needed.

Former Mayor Phil Anderson, who just left his post in April, attended the meeting to support the idea.

“I think it’s probably time for winter park to join Charleston or Carmel who have an expert available,” Anderson said.

The discussion of creating the new position comes as Mayor Sheila DeCiccio is finalizing a board to set design guidelines for the key business districts along Park, Orange and Fairbanks avenues. She noted the number of large projects coming up for approval and the need for additional eyes to help

Russell expressed skepticism about the need for the role.

“What are the unintended consequences of adding another chef to the kitchen?” he asked.

Commissioner Kris Cruzada said he supported the idea in an effort to maintain the aesthetic of the city.

“There’s a look and feel and we may need to have someone on board to protect that look and feel going forward,” he said.

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    By: Beth Kassab

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