On January 16, the Winter Park City Commission approved the Orange Avenue Overlay District in a 3-2 vote that has some chins wagging.
The 95-acre Overlay District is essentially a permitting tool that will set new land development code regulations for a specific part of Winter Park that ranges from Pennsylvania Avenue to Westchester Avenue, along Orange Avenue, by amending the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code.
This specific corridor has seen a large number of popular businesses open up in recent years, including the first-ever Foxtail Coffee, Buttermilk Bakery, The Heavy, and most-recently a new location of Black Bean Deli.
Despite the recent uptick in new and trendy businesses opening in the area, Winter Park city leaders see the new Overlay District as a way to fight “economic stagnation” in the corridor. The plan will allow the City to promote and incentivize specific types of development and restrict others, namely more dense mixed-use projects.
“We shouldn’t call it Orange Avenue Overlay … we should call it Orange Avenue Armageddon.”
– triggered Winter Park resident
The first vote was scheduled for a Monday Commission meeting but ended up running for twelve hours with plenty of proposed amendments and public commentary for and against the move. The meeting wrapped up around 2 a.m. that morning and had to be picked back up on Thursday for even more public commentary. At the end of the second meeting, a total of 42 amendments were proposed, not all of which were approved.
Editor’s Note: Another reason for the long meeting was a debate over The Canopy public library project. Click HERE to read about it on Orlando Sentinel.
The largest landholder in the corridor, Demetree Global, has been slowly buying up property at the intersection of Orlando and Orange Avenues for years, in an attempt to assemble a large enough development parcel to support a very ambitious mixed-use development called Winter Park Station. Another name floating around on the interwebs for the project has been “Gateway Garden Station.”
Demetree officials purchased the former Lombardi Seafood’s building at 1152 Harmon Avenue [GMap] for $4.8 million, which they currently lease out to Porch Therapy’s Jen Crotty for her The Heavy concept on a short-term lease agreement.
A slide, presented at the Winter Park Commission meeting, included renderings depicting what the Winter Park Station could possibly look like at that corner if given maximum building allowances under the new overlay guidelines, which would allow for a seven-story mixed-use development on the property.
One of the passed amendments resulting from the public meeting resulted in capping the proposed development at six stories rather than seven.
Demetree has since stated that it would not be putting together a formal plan for the property until the Overlay District process is finished and approved later this year. All of the amendments to the comprehensive plan will be sent to Florida state officials for review before being read by city commissioners before being put into action.
Scroll down to see the OAO District Final Report.