According to some elected officials, Constitution Green [Gmap], a park-space on the edge of Thornton Park, is to be sold to a developer and transformed into a potential housing development.

Contrary to popular belief, the green space is in fact privately owned, and leased to the City of Orlando by the Caruso family. They have owned the property for the past 60-70 years. At the time of this post it wasn’t clear how long the City has been leasing it, but it has been paying the taxes and carrying costs of the property during that time.

The park features a 200 year-old live oak in the southwestern quadrant of the lot. The oak is one of the oldest trees in Orlando and is featured in the City’s Parks and Recreation Significant Trees Map.

According to Orange County Soil and Water Supervisor Eric Rollings, the current property owners have no interest in selling the property to the City and are instead entertaining offers from private developers. We contacted the property owners, Mabel Grove Limited, managed by Pineloch Property Management, who said they could “neither confirm nor deny the sale, as no papers have been signed yet.”

City Commissioner Patty Sheehan confirmed that the sale has been on her radar for the last couple of weeks. Sheehan informed Bungalower that the new owners would not be keeping the “very significant tree” and that she “hates the project”.

Due to the size of the lot, as well as its proximity to the Orlando Executive Airport and neighboring developments, the height of any structures on the property are limited to medium/high density. Because of Federal law, limiting construction to the northeastern half of the property to protect the tree, and developing it more densely wouldn’t work. Additionally, according to Sheehan, the property is located on an old peat bog. This limits how high a structure could be built without anchoring it in the bedrock for stabilization. Sheehan said this combination of factors is helping her hold out hope that something can be done.

Rollings believes that the site would be better served if it was purchased by the City and used as a potential dog park like the new Park of the Americas, by the Executive Airport. Most downtown residents use the space as dog park already.

We have no word yet on when the sale and subsequent construction may occur, this is a developing story.

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Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of Bungalower.com

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  1. I call her “The Motherload”, that beautiful tree in Constitution Green. Her boughs form almost a perfect circle, as if to protect all who come under them. She is magnificent and takes your breath away when you first see her. She has been the inspiration for many of my paintings. She needs to be saved. She has done so much for all who have experienced being under her branches. I cannot stand by and let this happen. I will do the old hippie “sit in” to protest when they come for her. If anyone wants to join me, please do….but I need to know when this will happen.

  2. AndrewChang1 Do you know where the decision is at now? Maybe we can have people in Orlando meet under the tree expressing our concern??? Have you heard of anything in planning? please let us know if anyone does!

  3. Ok, let’s say your right, which my property value still is not back where it belongs. More urban development in an already OVER DEVELOPED area is just DUMB! It ruins the entire reason we all bought here to begin with. Look around! The number of “high rise” and/or apartment buildings that have gone up & are still going up is ridiculous. I’m not of the belief that the apartment buildings will INCREASE my property values. I’m pretty sure the lack of parking, green space & overall visual appeal would prove to be huge deterrent. Add renters to that equation and it doesn’t take an economist to figure that out.

  4. I’m all for saving the tree, but how exactly is adding more urban development effecting “your property values”?! I keep hearing and reading this same inane argument in this town. How does adding more high density development hurt single-family home values? Answer- it freaking doesn’t. In actual reality, it increases your value…you own a stand-alone house in an increasing dense urban setting…your value goes up due to demand.

  5. Is there any city meetings we can go to, or gatherings at the tree to express our concerns to keep the tree????

  6. I moved here in 1964 as a child. This tree has been a part of my life. This sucks Orlando!!!

  7. Nooooo… I love that tree. My daughter loves climbing it. This would be the fourth active big development project within two blocks!

  8. Noooooooo!!!! We need more green spaces, not less! I wish they’d turn it into an off leash dog park. Is there anyway to protest the demolition of such s beautiful space?

  9. This is where our wedding was too. We were one of the firsts to have it here and the city was great to us. I can’t believe this is even being considered

  10. I knew the minute those half-million dollar “Brownstone” condos across the street from the park were announced that this park and tree would be in danger. You can’t keep destroying what little history (and greenspace) this city has with non-stop high-density construction.

  11. AndrewChang1 Great job creating this petition! People are widely circulating it now (can you correct the name of the park on the petition: “Constitution Green”).

  12. Gee?? Wonder what Mayor Duddy(buddy) is getting out of the deal…look real deep people and stop this

  13. Sad. It’s a brownfield site, not an official park. An angel investor or crowd source fund would prob need to out-bid developers & pay to clean it up, then donate it back to the city.

  14. If you want to voice your opinion about this, please let Commissioner Patty Sheehan know. I’m still looking for a City Commission email link.

  15. I thought I remember in 1976 when it was made a park the purpose was to keep it off the chopping block. STOP THIS!!!!

  16. As a nearby resident, I really dislike this idea. Everything desirable about the character of Thorton Park/East Downtown area is being destroyed and this tree is irreplaceable. Summerlin and the narrow side streets will be overwhelmed by traffic with the medium rise buildings and townhouses that are displacing existing properties. And once this greenspace is gone its not coming back.

  17. Wow, I used to live in a house across the street from the park and loved having it there. I sincerely hope the sale doesn’t happen. Lancer Davis Burguière, if you havent heard already.

  18. So sad. These types of green spaces are what make downtown areas special. There’s plenty of housing going up along orange ave. It would be great if it could be purchased by the city instead of a developer.

  19. Please don’t. The Brownstone isn’t even close to being finished and the city is going to let this happen? Let’s focus on bringing more JOBS to downtown before we bring more living space.

  20. Very sad to take away something so very special holding great memories to couples who were married under that tree. If NYC can keep Central Park away from the developers, I would like to think the City of Orlando can be empowered to buy the property. SAVE CONSTITUTIONAL GREEN PARK!

  21. Stephanie Badran Jordan Badran U0001f601U0001f601U0001f601U0001f601 no! Say it ain’t so!

  22. “is there anything that can be done??” yes. Raise money and buy it and keep it as a park, if it’s worth that much. Anybody? Anybody? No? Huh.

  23. I hate telling private owners what they should do with their properties but in this case, we do not need another apartment complex. This seems like a good case for declaring eminent domain.

  24. Oh….. so very sorry to hear this news… Have enjoyed that park and tree for nearly 40 years!

  25. I don’t know who this Caruso family is, but I hope someone can tell them what a horrible idea this is. That park is a lovely little spot. The last thing we need is another apartment building on South St.

  26. While other places in the world are desperately trying to add more green spaces, Downtown Orlando keeps taking theirs away. Maybe we should just fill in Lake Eola and put in some condos. I don’t think we have enough.

  27. Oh god, what a shame. And ditto everyone else’s comments that Orlando is lacking in green space, and this is a significant one, especially with that tree.

  28. This is sad! There are already very few parks around Downtown Orlando. Lake Eola gets crowded but this park has always been open and a nice place to read a book or toss a football. I hope the owners realize its worth.

  29. We need to be adding more Green space to Downtown Orlando not taking it away. Any major city has a great green space with it. City of Orlando should have bought this land years ago.