Hi-End Auto Seeks WP Home
Or, when is a car not ‘just a car’?Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.
Guest Columnist Douglas Bond / December 6, 2020
Douglas Bond is a Winter Park car enthusiast.
What types of businesses would you like to see in Winter Park? Innovative? Elegant? Exotic?
McLaren Orlando LLC is seeking permission to open a dealership at the former Orchard Supply store on 17-92 and Orange Ave., which has been vacant since Orchard Supply closed their stores about two years ago.
For those unfamiliar with McLaren cars, they are hand-made in Surrey, England, and have a long racing history. McLaren cars are extremely high end and rare; there are only 21 McLaren dealerships in the United States. Fewer than 1,500 cars per year are sold here – at prices that range from $300,000 ‑ $500,000 per car, with some rare older models bringing over a million dollars. McLaren is looking to convert the empty Orchard Supply building into a luxury car boutique. They intend to enhance the look of the building and increase the green space around it.
There has been concern about the McLaren dealership going into that space. Neighbors worry about cars racing the streets during test drives, and they don’t want the extra traffic a dealership might bring.
A prospective buyer has to jump through a series of hoops to even test drive a McLaren. Test drives are by appointment only and are granted on a very limited basis. Potential buyers must go through an application process before they are awarded an appointment to test drive a car. Test drivers will be accompanied by a sales rep and will be required to observe all local and city laws and speed limits.
A McLaren dealership would not bring the extra traffic a normal car dealership would attract. The number of employees on site would range from 10 to12 – far fewer employees than the garden supply store the building originally housed. While the facility will service existing McLarens, only two to three cars can be serviced on a given day.
The total number of cars on site would be 20 or fewer, with most of those being on display in a showroom. None of the cars will be outside. Rather than being shipped by big 18-wheelers, the McLarens will arrive one at a time in an enclosed single-vehicle transport. No big trucks will be clogging up the streets or making excessive noise.
The City should be selective about what goes here, but it should not turn away a business that will enhance Winter Park. Since McLaren is not a conventional car dealership, it will cause less congestion and will be more attractive than other businesses such as a fast food restaurant, strip mall or storage units, all of which have been considered for this site. To have McLaren select Winter Park for this facility is an honor, and with the property improvements McLaren is planning to make, their car boutique will only add to the beauty and charm of our city.
Because the original Orchard Supply store was permitted with a “warehouse” designation, it lacks the necessary parking capacity for either retail or office and, as a result, has remained vacant since it closed two years ago.
Both City staff and the Planning & Zoning Board have recommended denial of McLaren’s application to put their dealership in that location. The Comprehensive Plan specifically restricts any type of automotive business to locations north of Webster Ave., west of Denning Drive, East of Bennett and on the west side of Wymore north of Lee Road.
Winter Park does have its car enthusiasts, however, and one gentleman who would love to see a McLaren dealership go in where Orchard Supply used to be reached out to the Voice (see above).
Even though both the City and P&Z recommended denial of McLaren’s application, according to McLaren’s attorney Mary Solik, McLaren will proceed to submit their application to the City Commission at the January 13, 2021 meeting.
The business is smart to take it to the City Commission.
Winter Park City Commissioners have proven numerous times that they are complete suckers and will approve ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING that has snob appeal.
Want to tear down a wooded forest and wildlife sanctuary in MLK Park and build a $50 million white elephant at residents’ expense? No problem. Just mention that the architect was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and Commissioners will vote for it.
People don’t buy cars like this because they drive 10 times better or more than your average luxury sports car. People buy them for the same reason Commissioners bought the building in MLK Park. Distorted thinking on the part of the buyer, assisted by persuasive salesmen and other various project promoters.
I fully expect the car dealership request will be approved without hesitation by the WP City Commission. It wasn’t that long ago that Commissioners approved a luxury auto show right next to a church during Sunday services.
Delusions of grandeur rule the day on the Dais. And residents don’t get a vote.
To Snob appeal: just a reminder that the commissioners that approved the library and the knighted architect and the auto show are mostly no longer on the commission.
Right. And FOUR of the CURRENT Commissioners showed up recently at an event to CELEBRATE “the topping off” of the knighted monstrosity in MLK Park, signing their names on the highest steel beam to be hoisted above what once was a beautiful tree canopy..
Only Commissioner Weaver refused to attend the public spectacle.
Glad we have at least ONE City Commissioner who still represents the RESIDENTS.
If Cooper was going to give MLK Park away to the developers like she did, she could have at least given it away to the Post Office so we’d have some green space next to Central Park.
Residents learned a lot from her own adoring words to the MLK Park building architect at the design unveiling ceremony November 2018, “We are BLESSED,” she said, fawning over him like he was some kind of a god that just descended from the sky or something.
I’ve noticed that some commissioners like to have it both ways. They like the residents to think they are on their side then they turn on them and vote with the developers and then pretend like it’s something the residents wanted all along.
Seidel was like that. And I think residents are beginning to realize that there are some others as well.
This is the type of high end unique products we want in winter park. This isn’t a used car lot. Vacant storefronts don’t make winter park desirable.
Right on. We should be emulating “a Palm Beach with a sense of community”, if we are to attract ” high end ” new residents. We are a community that is in competition with residents fleeing from other suppressive states. The current commission is striving towards mediocrity. How sad.
LOL. “Palm Beach with a “sense of community.”
Winter Park lost its sense of community over a decade ago.
Its political and cultural wars are well known locally.
WP will never be Palm Beach and Palm Beach is no longer Palm Beach. Old Palm Beachers began moving to more exclusive, quieter neighborhoods to maintain their subdued WASP old-money culture decades ago.
Bringing in expensive, flashy race cars and axe-throwing bars might help nouveau riche Winter Parkers achieve whatever delusions of turning WP into the appearance of a “luxury” destination still being pursued during a global pandemic.
Wish Carl Hiaasen would write about this city.
And, agree, another JAIL would be a great neighbor to the car lot. It would add to the surreal incongruity that WP has become. Maybe The Booby Trap can be resurrected next to the car lot. Don’t expensive cars and gentlemen’s clubs have similar clientele? At least among hedge funders in the NY, pre-Covid.
Some of the commenters are so unctuous, but not adept, elegant in their attempt at snobbery.
Recommend D. J. Taylor’s “The New Book of Snobs,” for study. Taylor’s book takes its title and inspiration from Thackeray’s “The Book of Snobs” (1848). Thackeray defined a snob as one “who meanly admires mean things.”
Hear Hear for cultural heritage conservatives who like WP the way it was.
Perhaps a Sign at WP City Limits if this is approved:
“WELCOME TO WINTER PARK. PLEASE DRIVE EXTRAORDINARY CAR.”
According to a speed test, the McLaren can go 212 mph.
That’s roughly 100 mph faster than Winter Park Police cars can go.
On 17-92, the McLaren would be a blur as it passes the City’s speed trap near the electric substation. It would be halfway to Sanford by the time Winter Park police would ask permission for a high speed chase.
How the heck are they going to give a ticket to a car going 212?
This is a real positive for WInter Park. McLaren is on par with Ferrari and in some circles, exclusive.
This is a real positive for WInter Park. McLaren is on par with Ferrari and more exclusive .
They’re on par with fine works of art.
I think this would be an asset to the unique and exclusive aspects of winter park.
Better this than another Trader Joe’s plaza parking nightmare.
Breaking news – I have no opinion.
I suggest everyone who wants to see this dealership approved should write to their Commissioners or show up at the meeting and comment to the positive.
For those who think McLaren will put Winter Park on the map as a “World Class City,” note that the Rolls Royce and Bentley dealerships in Orlando are on 33rd Street – near THE COUNTY JAIL!!!
Why doesn’t McLaren put its cars up for sale in that part of town? Somebody has a few too many diet Pepsis on night out on the town, gets bailed out of jail, and stops by the olde auto dealership to put a fancy new car on their credit card. The business model seems like it’s working for Rolls Royce and Bentley just fine.
Or are WP Commissioners planning on building a JAIL in Winter Park to go along with the new library and events center / McLaren dealership?
Watch out SunRail. The McLaren can get you where you’re going a lot faster. The only catch is you have to drive it at odd hours of the night to get to your office in about 5 seconds.
No problem though if you are a drug dealer – or a politician – they work those kind of hours all the time. So is that the KIND of people we want to attract to Winter Park? Well, is it?
Winter Park should consider it an honor to be selected by this premier automotive group whose product is truly a work of art. It would be a one of a kind Crown Jewel along the lines of the Morse Gallery. If denied, most likely Mclaren would go to South Orlando like Ferrari and Porsche did and Winter Park would loose out on a world wide client base who would never grace the sidewalks and businesses on Park Avenue. I hope that the City Council and P&Z will look at the big picture here and take the time to familiarize themselves with the product and the professionalism this luxury mark brings with it. It would be an enhancement to the gateway to Winter Park .
I’ve been a huge F1 fan for about 40 years and in ours, McLaren is a household name. Can’t wait till Ricciardo joins Lando next year! We love McLaren’s street cars and their race teams and from a selfish perspective, I’d LOVE them to be located 400 yards from my house.
But, I see no reason why they need to be at essentially 17-92 and Orange Avenue. What’s the point? Impulse purchase from passers by? A ton of square footage in a prime location serving statistically no one. Along with four others in the state, there’s already a McLaren Orlando, conveniently located in (of all places) Titusville which tells us something about their need to be located in the heart of a community with McLaren friendly demographics. There are plenty of other locations nearby… “Ya know, I was thinking I’d pick up the new $300,000.00 McLaren, but there isn’t a dealer within walking distance of my house, so if I have to drive 10 minutes, I’m going with Ferrari instead.”
That’s not the way these cars are bought.
Windermere/Winter Garden may well have more to offer, including the Turnpike, 408 and 429 all converging for ease of access. Folks LOVE the Ferrari dealer on Lake Destiny and I can’t find one comment about their location being an issue. Even the Porsche and Mercedes dealers in Maitland are in more industrial areas than the old Orchard location. Fields Bentley, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce are on 33rd Street in Orlando, a few locks from the notorious County Jail.
I personally would love to ride my bicycle to the McLaren dealer and drool over their products on a lovely WP Saturday morning in their indoor showroom on our way to the Farmer’s Market, but my guess is, I’d not be particularly welcome; wouldn’t blame them a bit.
I don’t see the value to the community by making sweeping exceptions for McLaren to do business in the middle of town, at this location.
Why the heck not? Beats the heck out of other options which could occupy this site (burger joint, chain retail, Motel 6 etc.)…minimal traffic impact and something unique. Beats the heck of of the vacant hardwares store currently in residence there and no existing trees will be cut down as a result of this new business…
With race cars, Winter Park could one day be the next Daytona Beach!
All Commissioners have to do is figure out which parks to axe next to build the track!
Please let us know when McLaren has a bogo.
When P & Z and the commission approved this Orchard Supply with woefully inadequate parking, the end result was predictable. The year was 2016. Both votes ( P & Z and Commission) were unanimous.
All we had to do was await the consequences of this bad decision- making. Becky Wilson was telling us all why it was a no brainer when it actually was a red alert. City staff? Same. Take all they say with a grain of salt x two. Always. Use your common sense.
This proposed use is actually quite desirable with low to no traffic consequence to the city, little impact if any to the neighbors, and an elite brand bringing cache to our burgh. (I am shocked they’re coming here. We can’t support it.)
This will make Field’s BMW look like a buy here pay here.
Just drop the pretense that it’s not a car dealership. Let our codes begin to differentiate dealerships in the traditional sense from showrooms. There will not be 10 acres of hundreds of autos on site.
As for servicing of the cars. Has anyone ever been to Daya’s in Longwood? You would think you were in the lobby of an outpatient surgical center. Immaculate. Clean. Professional. Quiet. Not a wrench in site. Hermetically sealed.
Even with NO green space offered on 17-92…HELLO…it is a WIN/WIN.
City planners say there is almost no use that can use this site due to the parking deficit. A self-storage facility? A coveted feather in WP’s cap,
Later amend the code to differentiate between Greenway Ford/ AutoNation type mega-dealerships and boutique niche showrooms. Tesla is selling its cars in storefronts in high end malls. These are not dealerships in the old style meaning.
If the neighbors are ok with this, do it. And no more Trader Joe’s Orchard Supply episodes of parking deficit denial syndrome.
Here’s what Winter Park residents will hear about the proposed McLaren move-in.
10.It’s not a car dealership. It’s an AMENITY.
9. WP residents will be the ENVY of everyone in Central Florida when it opens.
8. It will not attract ANY people to Winter Park who obtained the means to purchase the vehicles illegally.
7. Nobody goes into DEBT to buy a car like this. Buyers all have gobs and gobs of money they don’t know what to do with and after they buy one will go to Park Avenue, walk in the stores and restaurants and announce “I’ll have ONE OF EACH, please”
6. The business was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
5. Nobody will drive the cars on Winter Park streets. It’s a mail order business. Honest!
4. Commissioners voting in favor of it will not receive renumeration of any kind in appreciation for their vote.
3. If the McLaren dealership is NOT approved, the building will be used as a tattoo parlor, a massage parlor, or a jello wrestling parlor.
2. Super rich spoiled brat kids who drive recklessly are never given a McLaren by their super rich spoiled parent.
1. If you happen to be in a crosswalk as a McLaren is approaching, they will always stop for you, because people who pay $300K for a CAR all have at least the emotional maturity of a 13 year old.
This is the LAST car dealership Winter Park will allow in town.
Doesn’t seem like a very nice company to me:
It would be great to have a tenant or new owner for the Orchard Supply property, but there’s that pesky Comprehensive Plan that specifically forbids automotive uses for that stretch of Orlando Avenue. (If you think of it, please send Becky Wilson a copy for Christmas.)
However, such automotive uses ARE allowed near Lee Road. There is a vacant lot across from Whole Foods and adjacent to a Volvo dealership.
Tesla, Ferrari, Maserati, Mini, BMW and SeaRay all have successful dealerships along I-4. These are in Eatonville.
How about McLaren takes over Denny’s or Tire Kingdom on Lee Road at I-4? That way, when the rich, leaden-footed customers pick up their 0-to-60-in-2-seconds ride, they can crash it on the I-4 ramp where there are no pedestrians, homes or other cars in the way. No harm, no foul, no Comprehensive Plan amendments.
Here’s what the McLaren sounds like:
Multiply that by however many of them will be on the road in Winter Park.
The McLaren was the 3rd loudest car that Car & Driver magazine ever tested (102 decibels):
That’s the same noise level as being in in the stadium at a professional sporting event.
Winter Park didn’t get a professional sports team, but it will sure sound like it if this car dealership is approved.
An earplug store might become the the most prosperous business in town if McLaren comes here.
Pete, how can you criticize your successors on the dais when you yourself were the most reckless big spender as Commissioner, with complete disregard for fiscal responsibility – just so you could have your big ART MUSEUM in the PARK!
Eminent Domain? YOU already took our property when you were Commissioner! You took our tax dollars and you took our park!
Remember when you committed Winter Park to pay $42 million for your art museum in MLK Park? Well, Pete, how much in additional City services are going to have to be spent to support all the growth that the art museum will bring to Winter Park?
If you drive by the construction project in MLK Park today, you’ll notice them installing the glass.
Because of the weird slanted glass design and the reflective quality of the glass, when you look at the windows from the street all you see is the parked cars. No kidding. This is the “masterpiece” Greg Seidel and his compadres on the Dais moved forward to the tune of $50 million +++ of Winter Park residents’ tax dollars. Just so people can stare at the reflection of dozens of parked cars whenever they look at the building.
Compounding the eyesore, when the sun shines brightly on all those cars, its rays will reflect off their front and back windshield and windows, ricocheting off same, to the monstrosity’s slanted windows, creating a blinding effect on motorists, passengers, shoppers, and diners in the area.
This project is/was a DISASTER from the word “Go.”
Anybody who says Weldon WASN’T part of the scheme is misinformed.
For the record, Pete voted against the selection of the design team that won the project. And I don’t believe he had any interest in building/financing a ” big ART MUSEUM in the PARK.” If you can show otherwise, I would appreciate seeing it.
You’re right. Weldon did not AT FIRST support the selection of the designer. HOWEVER Weldon DID support EVERYTHING else that came up for a vote regarding MLK Park building project. And SUBSEQUENT to Weldon’s reluctance to support the selection of designer, Weldon not only SUPPORTED the designer, but PROMOTED the building AS DESIGNED on his Winter Park commentary website numerous times. Weldon also PROMOTED the project AS DESIGNED (documented) to Orange County Commissioners in conjunction with their approval of Tourist Development Tax funding.
So to say Weldon didn’t support the designer without telling the WHOLE story is a lot like saying “It’s a Library,” without saying that it was designed, not only to house bookcases and bookworms, but also, more specifically, Picassos and tons of other so called “art” that looks like something your dog could have done better simply by kicking over a paint can onto a blank canvas.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Well, let me ask you this. If they built a cruise ship and put it in the park and called it a library, would it not still be a cruise ship?
How about if they built a 747 jet airplane and put it in the park and called it a library?
What if they built an amusement park and put it in MLK Park and called it a library? What would YOU call it then?
If you think it’s a LIBRARY just because THE WINTER PARK GOVERNMENT calls it a library, maybe you need a new pair of glasses. Does it LOOK like a library to you? Go over there and take a gander at it and let us know.
It’s heartwarming at this Christmas Season to see all the community interest in the McLaren dealership. I am sure the same interest will exist for the Henderson Hotel. As usual, the feelings seem evenly split. So, once again, it will be up to the Solomonic Wisdom of our Commission to make a decision. And for the record, the P & Z vote on 12/1/2020 was not unanimous – one member was pro McLaren…
Weaver is the current City Commission representative of the Winter Park residents. There are five commissioners in total. And the way it is rigged, there is always one commissioner who will vote for the residents and four who will (ultimately) vote with the developers. For awhile that one representative was Cooper, but then she decided she liked voting with Leary sometimes.
It’s set up that way so residents will always feel that elections in Winter Park are legitimate. That way they will go along with all the development the City Commission passes. At the same time the residents never have a chance of winning anything of significance because they are always outnumbered on the Commission 4 to 1.
Stealth candidates pretending to represent the residents during their campaigns have often proven to be more successful vote getters than those who openly support development. They gain the confidence of residents during their campaigns and in their first year or two in office and then vote with the developers.
It takes most residents several years to catch on that these commissioners are no longer representing the residents. Some residents never catch on and believe they are representing residents until the day they leave the commission.
And that’s the way it goes.
The mayor election is always rigged so that either candidate, if elected, will ultimately vote with the developers on any project of importance. Think “Heads I win. Tails you lose” and you’ll understand why a lot of things happen in Winter Park the way they do.
Sprinkel got an early Christmas present this year. She has won the endorsement of former Winter Park Mayor Candidate Mark Meta.
Meta announced the endorsement on his campaign Facebook page.
Meta dropped out of the race for reasons he also expressed on his Facebook page.
The endorsement was imperative for Sprinkel’s campaign which has been floundering in recent months, keeping alive her hopes for the office she has coveted for decades. Meta is now one of five Winter Park residents who said, on the condition of anonymity, that they may vote for Sprinkel come Election Day.
In his endorsement Meta said he is endorsing Sprinkel because she won’t raise taxes (even though she voted to increase residents’ tax bills every year she was on the City Commission).
His role in the Sprinkel campaign will be to try to get young voters to vote for her. A recent poll showed that Sprinkel does very well with the under 6 years old demographic, perhaps due to her professional career as a kindergarten teacher.
Meta could not be reached for comment to answer why no other age. group in Winter Park seems to be supporting Sprinkel.
Meta lost the election for Orange County Soil and Water Board in November, so he is a local expert at losing elections. His joining Sprinkel’s campaign is proof of the “birds of a feather” adage. Another feather in the cap for the Sprinkel campaign.
Many residents are disappointed in their choice of candidates this year. Will another dark horse candidate emerge prior to the filing deadline?
Stay tuned to The Voice for more campaign news you won’t get anywhere else in town!