A new building for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida is a step closer to becoming reality.
Winter Garden commissioners have endorsed the site plan for a new Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida building.
The 10,044-square-foot, single-story recreation and learning center will be located on a 9.35-acre property at 303 West Crown Point Road, just north of the existing basketball pavilion. It will be the result of a partnership between the city of Winter Garden and Orange County, along with a host of supporters such as the Junebug Foundation and retired Major League Baseball player Johnny Damon.
It’s a plan that has been in the works for a few years. In 2017, June Engineering Consultants Inc. President Randy June and City Commissioner Mark Maciel hosted an informational session at the Maxey Community Center.
“We’re excited about it,” said City Manager Mike Bollhoefer. “It’s going to be a great benefit to the community here and the adjacent communities. We’ll be waiving all the impact fees to get it built.”
The vision has been to expand the organization’s West Orange branch, which currently meets at the West Orange Recreation Center on West Crown Point Road. It provides limited space for the organization, but to its members, it is home base.
With this larger location, the Boys & Girls Club can serve triple the number of children.
“This is a great public and private partnership providing this new 10,000-square-foot facility,” said Lauryn June, Randy June’s daughter. “We’ll be able to expand from 75 elementary kids that are currently in the Magic Gym to (more than) 150 kids, and the new facility will be able to provide for both teenagers and the elementary kids, which is nice that the teenagers have a place to go, because currently they do not.
“We are super excited about this project,” Lauryn June said. “It’s finally here and it is going to the county soon to be put out to bid, so hopefully, that’ll be in the next month or so, which is very exciting.”
According to the site plan, some of the building’s highlights include a 1,929-square-foot teen game room, a 2,639-square-foot multipurpose room, a 665-square-foot health and life science learning center and a 589-square-foot youth computer lab.
The site plan also includes storage areas, a music studio, a learning center with computer lab, a youth/teen arts lab and an area for health and life skills.
“This is going to be a great partnership,” said City Commissioner Mark Maciel. “I’ve talked to a lot of the nonprofits — we have many churches and many nonprofits that exist in east Winter Garden. It’s going to give them a place to actually use classrooms, conference rooms, things like that, too. It’s going to be a great addition to the community for everybody.”
SIDE STREET ACTIVATION
Another project the city is working on is activating downtown Winter Garden’s side streets, Bollhoefer said.
One of downtown’s biggest challenges relates to its side streets — such as Main and Boyd streets — and the businesses on them. It can be tough to pull people off the main Plant Street corridor to explore down the side streets and discover the shops there, he said.
“We’re looking for different ways to energize those streets and get people out on the streets,” Bollhoefer said. “After a certain amount of time, it’ll take on a life of its own.”
The city is partnering with SoBo Art Gallery to bring at least three murals to the downtown area in hopes of attracting people to those side streets. It’s a similar concept to the murals seen in Nashville, Los Angeles and other cities around the country.
“Believe it or not, these are really big all throughout the country now, and people go to these to take their pictures,” Bollhoefer said. “One would be on Boyd Street, one would be somewhere on Main Street, and the third one would actually be on the SoBo building.”
He added the murals would be painted by local artists who are affiliated with SoBo, and the murals would be redone with new art on a periodic basis.
“People love them, and it does bring people down (those streets),” Bollhoefer said.