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A few of our readers have been asking us for some clarification on the proposed City Centre (Lake Eola Development) project, asking what exactly would be affected if it is allowed to go forward. According to the attached plans, the “existing fountain,” (which is actually Sperry Fountain, the centerpiece of the existing small plaza next door) will remain. Sperry Fountain was the first fountain to be installed in Lake Eola back in 1914 (although the the original iron fountain was eventually replaced by a bronze replica in 2011).

The new City Centre development that was green-lit by the Municipal Planning Board last week still has a number of hoops to jump through before it is approved by the City. Namely, it has to go up in front of City Council.

A Chicago developer is proposing to build a 28-story tower on the southwestern corner of Lake Eola. A few community groups are not only questioning the height of the building, but also its proposal to redevelop a neighboring portion of Lake Eola park. The designs call for a build-out of an additional 5,925 SF into Central Park, in order to construct a central waterfall feature and two cafe/restaurants on either side. For more information, click HERE.

The City would lease the property to the developer, in the same way they lease to World of Beer just down Central.

UPDATE: According to a report by Paul Brinkmann at the Orlando Sentinel, St. Luke’s Cathedral (which donated the property to the City to construct the park in 1914) has filed a formal appeal against the development, in the hopes of overturning the MPB’s recent vote. You can read more about that, HERE. The developer recently stated that he would build the tower with or without the added park space.

city centre existing
Current lot layout


Brendan O'Connor

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  1. No worries, I just don’t like there to be a consensus about a project based on a false understanding. The imagery around the building has led many people to believe that it’s being build out onto public land, when in fact the highlighted portion of the building is on private land, merely showing where the setback is (which downtown buildings shouldn’t have setbacks).
    I also know a lot of people are upset about Alden Rd, but I think in the long run it’s going to give Ivanhoe many new customers and the (unfortunately) displaced business seem to all be moving to Virginia which, in my opinion, is going to be a blessing in disguise as it turns Virginia Drive into a walkable, economically productive street. If and when the city gets it act together with the Virginia/Corrine redevelopment and adds bike lanes to the Audubon Park commercial area, I think we’re going to have an amazing connected corridor stretching from Lake Baldwin to Ivanhoe Village. I think, once all is said and done, the Yard on Alden is actually going to be a big benefit for the area.

  2. There seems to be a lot of rumors swirling around about this so let’s take a moment to recognize that. I just have my concerns. I love Orlando. I’m born and raised here. As far back as I can remember I went to see fireworks at Lake Eola. I really really care about what happens. This whole thing and what is happening on Alden rd has made me pay attention and wish I had sooner. I’m not a nimby. I love new places. I really wish we could preserve some old too. I’m glad you commented SAM at least so we can leave it in a nicer note.U0001f603

  3. And my point, about knowing what’s existing what addressing just that. I’m not trying to belittle you, but I am trying to make sure that people who are going to publicly oppose this development understand that it is NOT, as you say, “taking away from any of Lake Eola.” They’re building this on an already developed space. They’re replacing old buildings, not park land. I can understand if someone wanted to build on one of the park’s lawns, but this is being built on top of a 7/11.

  4. No no! I’m not against new buildings or cafes or how many people live wherever. In my humble opinion it just shouldn’t take away any of lake Eola. It’s such a small area. My business is a success because I work really hard. I’m good at what I do and I have really talented people that work for me. I am not depending on other businesses to build my business. I find so many comments here belittling and wish I had never shared any of my thoughts.

  5. My favorite color is blue… That’s an opinion. I can see it outside my window from central… That’s fiction. Being against adding hundreds of residents to the downtown core, and two new cafe/restaurants (especially as a business owner)… That’s just silly.

  6. It’s just fb people. We’re not changing lives here with our precious opinions. Lol. Better to keep it friendly.

  7. Thanks for the information, makes me wonder just how many “water features” does Lake Eola needs? A waterfall? Really?

  8. Guess as long as business owners are making money we need not worry about limiting the variety of plant diversity in public green spaces

  9. Wow. Way to pile on this poster for offering a pretty benign opinion. Kinda embarrassed for those on here getting so harsh over a simple point of view.

  10. I’m not sure your understanding what I’m talking about. I’m not talking where the patio would be but rather north of where the building is being proposed. The sun is to the south of Lake Eola. If a 28 story building is built that will keep the entire west side of the park in shade for easily most of the day. Other than install a sun the developer couldn’t do anything.

  11. I 100% apologize for sharing my point of view. I’m not attacking anyone. It seemed like other opinions might be welcome. My bad.

  12. Anyone see that ridiculous article Beth Kassab wrote comparing this architecturally detailed and interesting building to PIZZA HUT? A “giant box the same on all four sides” she said. Reality and fact check Beth…it’s not a box, it is not the same on all four sides, and the top wouldn’t look remotely similar to an old Pizza Hut even if they painted it red!!

  13. I agree they should pay taxes the same as everyone else!! Most churches are a seouris money grubbing scams!!!!

  14. Bekka i think you are being ridiculous with save every inch of Lake eola i live here on Lake eola & welcome more High-rises and restaurants and feel it is good for every business & residents to have a bustling CITY CENTER!!!

  15. No it is not just saying that the developer and the restaurants would see to it that the surroundings will look good!!! It is simply good for business!!!

  16. BrianRoland dbain Good point with World of Beer but City Centre hasn’t been built yet and it has more than enough space to put a patio on their own land or one of 28 stories overlooking the lake.  Anyway, they are going to be in for a big surprise when they realize their million dollar patio overlooks bird poop island.  They will be gagging in their coffee cups when the wind shifts.  :0)

  17. So you own a business downtown and you’re opposed to hundreds of residents moving in your vicinity? This isn’t even on Lake Eola, it’s on land that’s already developed. And when you say “mediocre places to eat” you make it clear that you’re completely judgmental and making assumptions about something that doesn’t exist. You’re just a NIMBY. Nothing more. Go away.

  18. It would really suck if this gets built without the cafe space on the park. We couldn’t possibly get any worse dining options on the lake so should be a nice addition.

  19. I thing this is a great idea!! This is a city center and should have lots of high-rise buildings & restaurants to give it the real city feel!! I live here on lake eola and Welcome more High-rises 🙂

  20. I’m definitely glad Sperry Fountain is staying. Sad the house is going. Glad Orlando is growing.

  21. Yeah, there are already buildings there. You can’t see a view as it is. Why are people who don’t live downtown and don’t know what’s existing commenting on this anyway? Doesn’t concern you.

  22. Great point. Relax and Spice have terrible food but somehow they stay in business. Maybe people go there to enjoy the outdoor seating and the view.

  23. Orlando simply doesn’t have architectural an history. Soul sucking? I think Post WWII urban sprawl is irresponsible and environmentally taxing. Automobiles choke out our air. The picture I posted is a small urban dog park that a “developer” built in Channelside Tampa for the community. I truly believe you should take your energy to Lake Nona, Clermont, Lake Mary, Windermere, Oviedo, Winter Garden… And see what true land rape looks like.
    If anything… Make the church tear down the mold infested buildings that current rot in place and actually create more green space..!
    Good luck. Have a great day downtown.

  24. dbain  the developer would be leasing the land..the same exact process as world of beer went through in order to use a portion on the park for outdoor seating. Same exact process that Relax Grill went through. Nothing is being ignored here.

  25. Pretty sure that is a personal opinion vs a market based fact. The apartment market is on fire in Florida and clearly there is a “need” and a demand for this type of development. More importantly, the current office building and 711 sitting on the corner are in NO WAY aesthetically pleasing or even close to having any historical significance (hence the reason they have never been historically classified). Lake Eola is not going anywhere people, calm down, this is under 6,000 SF of unused shrubs we are talking about here. Other than the homeless, no one touches this small portion of the park..go see for yourself. Either way with or without the leased park land, the developer has stated he will still build the high-rise. Cheers to progress and change.

  26. That’s great but we need to keep the old ones as well. When I look at that picture you posted all I see are new trees outlining a lawn. When I visit other cities they have managed to keep old mixed in with new. There’s nothing about that picture that would make me want to relax and enjoy that park. The point that I really want to make is who really needs another soul sucking high rise? We don’t need it. We do need an awesome lake Eola park. It’s irreplaceable. It all comes down to who has the money. Obviously that high rise is going in. I’m not really thinking my opinion matters here. I am born and raised in Orlando and have watched it’s history be taken slowly away replaced by something shiny and new. It makes me sad for a city I love and feel less and less connected to. So, here’s a picture of City Park in New Orleans.

  27. The real problem is the height of the building. 28 stories will put the west end of the lake in the shade for almost the entire day. May cause much of the grass and plants to struggle in that area.

  28. I think churches need to start paying property taxes. They have enough shelters provided to be concerned about smart urban growth. Take a field trip to Lake Nona and get out harozontal land back. Build smart. Build vertical. U R B A N I S T A

  29. I don’t follow? Not certain if you’re aware but the City plants thousands of trees a year through the city limits.

  30. How? It’s between an existing abandoned building and the lake. Your window would have to be on a boat to see it. I don’t think everyone realizes how small the piece of land in question is or where it’s located.

  31. So, to clarify, the building isn’t encroaching on any park land, except for, possibly, a patio? I’m all for more development downtown. Let’s make Orlando a real city with a real downtown!

  32. I have no problem building on “their” property whatever they want but they can no more build on  public property or ignore setbacks no more than I can.  I’ve seen the city make builders demolish a new house’s foundation and start over for going 2 inches over a set back. These developers know better.  They are just hoping the city council will go all ga ga over jobs and taxes it will bring and say “yes”.  Typical developer ploy.

  33. I love Lake Eola park and I don’t understand the uproar. This seems to be positive thing all the way around.

  34. Nobody uses the part they want to take. And in return you get landscaped usable space.

  35. Every precious little inch of Lake Eola should be preserved. Don’t we have enough high rises and mediocre places to eat?

  36. Didn’t the City work something with Gargi’s Resturaunt when they built on the shore of lake Ivanhoe years ago? A couple of Public restrooms accessible from the exterior of their building near a play area for kids? Could be a win/win.

  37. There are 7 trees in that corner of Lake Eola Park. A perfect buffer to the cityscape beyond. Removing the buffer while adding a 300 foot building is a major downgrade of Lake Eola Park.