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Community Center booming with activity
West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Sep. 4, 2014 7 years ago

Community Center booming with activity

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by: Tony Judnich

Ocoee Lakeshore Center

OCOEE — For the month of August, the city of Ocoee-owned Lakeshore Center was rented for four weddings, two Sweet Sixteen celebrations, a church banquet and a meeting.

And overall, city officials have rented the facility about 50 times since it opened last February, Ocoee Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Hayes said.

“It’s going well,” City Manager Rob Frank said about the center. “It’s rented out far in advance.”

The $2.3 million, 8,500-square-foot facility — which serves as the city’s community center — stands at 150 N. Lakeshore Drive, next to Starke Lake. Ocoee’s former, 36-year-old community center stood in this spot until it was demolished to make way for the new one.

Now, in several ways, the existing facility is overshadowing its predecessor.

For example, Ocoee officials anticipate collecting $129,108 in community center revenue this fiscal year, a 277% increase from the $34,252 they received from renting out the old center in fiscal 2013.

The total earnings include money collected from renters of the adjacent, historic Withers-Maguire House, the grounds of Bill Breeze Park and other parts of the lakefront area. In fiscal 2015, which starts Oct. 1, city officials anticipate receiving $149,160 in rental revenue.

“I would say we’ve been pleased with the rentals of the center and the house,” Hayes said. “The increase (in revenue) is mainly due to the fact that we’re charging more for (the new center) than we did for the old community center. The old center was renting for approximately $50 an hour, and this building we’re renting from anywhere to $1,000 to $1,250 for a six-hour block.”

The Lakeshore Center features a wide porch, an outdoor plaza, a modern catering kitchen, a meeting room and a specialized audio-visual system. The building can accommodate groups of up to 300 people, or more than twice the capacity of the old community center.

The Withers-Maguire House can be rented for wedding preparations, business meetings and other activities. Built in 1888, the two-story house has Florida Heart-pine floors throughout the interior and a large, wrap-around porch. The city purchased the house in 1979 and meticulously restored it.

Frank said city workers rearranged items in the house about 18 months ago to make it more accessible.

“It was hard to rent it before, because there were period pieces in the living and dining rooms,” he said. “We moved them to the second floor and made it more of a museum upstairs. Downstairs, we set up tables to make it better for meetings and group activities. It’s been about a year now that it’s been open to the public for rentals.”

Rental rates for the house include residential rates of $40 per hour and non-residential rates of $50 per hour.

For more Ocoee facility rental information, visit ocoeelakeshorecenter.com or call (407) 877-5803.

Contact Tony Judnich at [email protected].

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