Ravenous Pig to Move

Will There Be Enough Parking?


P&Z found itself in a ‘Catch 22’ Tuesday evening when James and Julie Petrakis, owners of the Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons, announced they would be moving The Ravenous Pig from its present Orange Avenue location to the Cask & Larder site at 565 W. Fairbanks.

The Petrakises have bought the property at the corner of Pennsylvania and Fairbanks Avenues where Swine & Sons and the Cask & Larder are now situated. Since the lease on the current Ravenous Pig location is about to expire, they seek to combine the two restaurant operations, with The Ravenous Pig in the dining room and the Cask & Larder in the tap room.

What’s the Catch?

As with many businesses in the Orange/Fairbanks corridor, the issue is parking. The property includes a small, vacant, unpaved lot at 520 Pennsylvania which has for years been used for overflow parking for patrons of the restaurant on that site. This goes back to the days of Harper’s Tavern and the Cordon Bleu.

Property Needs a Facelift

As part of a facelift for the property, the new owners want to re-do the parking lot, add landscaping, upgrade the paving and lighting and add a small outdoor dining area behind the restaurant, away from the Orange Avenue frontage where now the chairs sit empty because of traffic noise and glare from the setting sun.

Pave the Parking Lot

This would include paving and landscaping the small lot at 520 Pennsylvania to make it a proper parking lot. Currently, the lot is muddy when it rains, has an uneven surface and has holes that are hard to see in the dark. The difficulty is that 520 Pennsylvania Avenue sits within the southern edge of the Hannibal Square neighborhood and is zoned single-family. In order to pave and improve it, the lot must be rezoned to “PL” (for Parking Lot), requiring a change in both the Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map.

Commercial Creep

As benign as it first appears, this is the kind of commercial creep into the single-family residential Hannibal Square neighborhood the people who live there are trying to prevent. They point out that this sort of commercial incursion would never be approved in other neighborhoods — say, in the “Vias.”

In a letter to members of the Planning & Zoning Board, sent in advance of the meeting, west side resident Mary Daniels wrote, “We are asking the board and staff to preserve what is left of R1A zoning in this community, to stop the inching encroachment process of another block of zoning changes to PL or higher density zoning based the commercial surrounding and not the residential zoning in the adjacent area.”

Historical Use is for Parking

City Planning Manager Jeff Briggs pointed out the reality that, historically, none of the restaurants that had occupied that site had ever had sufficient parking. He said if the lot at 520 Pennsylvania is not used for parking, that will drive the patrons to find parking out on the residential streets. Briggs said, without the long history of the property as a restaurant, the staff would have come with a very different recommendation.

“Our Objective Is to Make that Corner More Attractive.”

There is no question the junction of Fairbanks, Pennsylvania and Orange Avenues is unattractive and dangerous, and that it could use some love. Petrakis spoke about his desire to provide a way for patrons to enter and leave the restaurant safely – by directing traffic to enter from Pennsylvania instead of from Fairbanks. He also noted the need for an improved aesthetic. He stated he was willing to enter into a developer’s agreement stipulating that if he ever sold the lot on Pennsylvania, the zoning would revert to R1A.

Why Amend the Comp Plan?

Maria Bryant, another resident of the Hannibal Square neighborhood, agreed with Petrakis. She said she did not understand why the zoning and the Comprehensive Plan needed to be amended. The purposes of both the community and the property owner would be served with a development agreement that allowed Cask & Larder to improve and continue to use the lot for parking, but if the lot ceased to be used for parking, it would revert to its original R1A zoning and would retain R1A status on the Future Land Use map.

Future Land Use Important

Bryant’s sentiments were echoed by Mary Daniels, who pointed out not only should the Comprehensive Plan and zoning for this property remain unchanged, but the Future Land Use map should also reflect R1A status. Daniels expressed her appreciation for Petrakis and his effort to share with the neighbors in advance his plans for improving the property.

How Do We Keep Our Businesses Viable and Our Neighborhoods Safe?

Kim Allen posed an essential question when she pointed out that many businesses in major commercial corridors of Winter Park lack sufficient parking.

P&Z to Petrakis: Back to the Drawing Board

P&Z Board member Peter Gottfried solved the problem, for now, by ending the discussion. He made a motion to Table, advising the applicant to flesh out his plans and bring back a more comprehensive description of what will happen to the property at Pennsylvania and Fairbanks, and to two of the region’s most popular and respected dining establishments.

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    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.

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