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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 1 year ago

Winter Park leaders discuss future of vacant property on Fairbanks Avenue, Lee Road

The former sites of a bowling alley and a gentlemen’s club are on the verge of being sold or leased by the city.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

City-owned property dominated discussion at the Jan. 22 Winter Park City Commission meeting as leaders  approved a contract to sell one piece of land and discussed the fate of another property.

Commissioners gave a preliminary approval on a contract outlining the sale of 1111 W. Fairbanks Ave. to Verax Investments LLC, which plans to build a mixed-use medical and business office.

Verax has offered to purchase the property for $3.5 million, higher than the land’s appraised value of $2.96 million.

The property, the former site of the Bowl America, was put up for a notice of disposal, opening up a process where potential buyers can make offers.

But City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper cast a vote against the contract, saying she believed the land could still be useful for the city.

“I still hold that this particular property has public use and public value, because of its proximity to Martin Luther King Park,” Cooper said. “I know that with the building of the new library, we’ll be faced with dealing with storm water issues. I do believe that Lake Mendsen on MLK Park is at capacity, and that may require reconfiguring that lake. I think this property would be ideal for the loss of any offset park land.”

Winter Park also voted to accept two offers on the vacant property at 2600 Lee Road, which was once the sight of the breast-shaped gentlemen’s club known as Christie’s Cabaret and formerly the Booby Trap.

The two options were to negotiate a lease on the property for a Checkers restaurant or sell the property to UP Development, which plans to construct a retail strip center, according to the meeting agenda.

City Manager Randy Knight said he preferred negotiating a lease on the property for a Checkers restaurant.

“The other offer is for $995,000, and the value of the land lease is more than $995,000,” Knight said. “You always have the opportunity to sell the land lease if we ever get to the point where we need cash in the general fund, so that opportunity doesn’t go away.”

An offer from UP Development to purchase the property was accepted as well, but UP didn’t reveal its potential tenant.

“I like the land lease option, though I will say I’m not crazy about the use that’s going in there — I don’t see ‘Winter Park’ and ‘Checkers’ in the same sentence,” Mayor Steve Leary said. “I will say the thing that scares me about the other (offer is) although we know the developer … without him putting in what he plans on doing with it, it’s a little bit tough for me to put that much faith in his offer if he’s going to just put a fast-food restaurant there.”

Winter Park leaders still may entertain the UP Development option if a contract can’t be reached with Checkers

That land along Lee Road was first purchased by Winter Park in December 2014 and the old gentlemen’s club was demolished in February 2015. The land has remained empty ever since, with deals either not panning out or not making sense for the city.

Mayflower Expansion 

Winter Park Commissioners also gave their approval on first reading for a proposed northwest expansion of the Mayflower Retirement Community, 1620 Mayflower Court.

Plans are underway for the Mayflower to purchase an eight-acre piece of property nearby at 2141 Oakhurst Ave. On the combined existing and future property of 15.5 acres, the Mayflower plans to build a 58,117-square-foot, three-story health care (skilled nursing) building; a 20,672-square-foot, one-story memory care building; a 9,000-square-foot one-story clubhouse; and 40 new villa units.

Mayflower Retirement Community President and CEO Steve Kramer said the new skilled nursing facility will have more of a “household” model of care that’s more home-like with private rooms, as opposed to the existing building which has long hallways and semi-private rooms.

“It’s an outdated mode of care that we have,” Kramer said. “As great as it is and as proud of it as we are, the needs have changed of people who are seeking skilled nursing.”

A significant portion of the project would feature renovations to the existing buildings as well, including adding additional contemporary dining venues; a performance center; educational and activity space; and new wellness/spa/fitness facilities. 

There also are plans to incorporate updated, larger apartments in the current living areas.

The Mayflower Retirement Community last expanded its facilities in the 1990s, adding the 28 single-family homes and assisted-living spaces it has today.

Resident Karen Jacobs spoke in favor of the project and appreciated the Mayflower’s communication with the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We’re looking forward to additional dialogue with the approval, because it’s a great project,” Jacobs said.




Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

See All Articles by Tim

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