Seven Oaks Park to break ground as commission set to discuss if theater can move there
The new park is designed to be a green refuge along a busy stretch of Orange Avenue and the concept of moving the Winter Park Playhouse there remains controversial
By Beth Kassab
City officials will gather Thursday morning to break ground on the long-awaited Seven Oaks Park at the corner of Orange Avenue and Denning Drive.
The public ceremony set for 10 a.m. comes as the City Commission is set to discuss key aspects of the 1.5-acre park’s future this week at two additional public meetings on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.
Central to those talks is a proposal by Commissioner Todd Weaver for the Winter Park Playhouse, which is losing the lease for its current building on Orange Avenue, to move to the park. A meeting last month some residents expressed support for the concept, but others expressed concerns it would take away from the feel of the park and add congestion to nearby neighborhoods.
Weaver’s plan calls for the theater to be part of the second story of a parking structure that also houses solar panels.
A brief summary included in the agenda for Wednesday’s City Commission meeting notes that city staff met with the executive director of the playhouse, who said the building would need to be 12,000 to 15,000-square feet and sit as many as 175 people, up from the 123 seats at the current theater.
The playhouse will also need 38 to 44 parking spaces to meet zoning requirements, according to the memo. One question is whether there will be enough space to accommodate enough additional parking intended for the park that will help nearby businesses that rely mostly on street parking.
The groundbreaking ceremony is open to the public on Thursday morning. The Seven Oaks name for the site formerly known as Progress Point was selected earlier this year in a public online vote in tribute to the seven large Live Oak trees planted on the property in 2022.