West Winter Park evoloving
Winter Park residents on the west side of the city called into question the direction their neighborhoods are headed last Monday as the City Commission looked at a proposal for a new three-story, single-unit home off of east Hannibal Square.
The new building, earmarked for an empty parking lot just north of Armando’s Cucina Italiana & Pizzeria, would sit just a stone’s throw away from a few of the west side’s older homes, including two just across the street.
The proposed building passed by a split vote of 4-2 by the Planning and Zoning Board last month due to disagreements of whether the three-story building fit with the surrounding area.
Resident Martha Bryant Hall said it's a reoccurring theme in the west side of the city, where the area’s humble African-American heritage and roots are being yanked out. New developments like the proposed home are pricing out current residents on the west side, she said.
“The west side people helped build the city of Winter Park,” she said. “I think it’s time for you all to stop. No one sitting here would like to see what has happened in this neighborhood happen in your neighborhood. Use a little common sense say, ‘Yes, sure, responsible building,’ but not something to change the entire community.”
In the late 1800s, the west side was originally set aside as a segregated African American community, made up mostly of residents who worked in the city as servants for whites, according to Rollins College history professor Julian Chambliss.
Racial segregation was eventually abolished throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but the community’s demographic has still remained mostly African American.
But as far as the character of the town, resident Lurlene Fletcher said there’s hardly any trace of the area’s roots left.
“You have to consider on the west side of Winter Park ... what’s left that’s shown that African-Americans have been there?” Fletcher said. “You don’t have anything there to show it was once residential black [neighborhoods].”
The project was voted through on first reading by Winter Park City Commissioners. The item will return before the City Commission for a second reading at the Commission’s next meeting on Monday, July 11.