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.