Will Winter Park change more streets to be like Park Avenue?
The city’s Economic Development Advisory Board discussed what’s gone wrong along U.S. Highway 17-92, what went right with Park Avenue, and how to better control development that comes into Winter Park in a meeting on Tuesday.
Recently elected City Commissioner Peter Weldon sat in to make some suggestions of his own. Weldon told the board that perhaps the only way to control development along major roads throughout the city is by taking notes from Park Avenue.
The city’s downtown street has established design guidelines in order to keep new developments and facades in character with the charm and feel it’s become famous for.
These guidelines include input on storefront windows, lighting and signage for local businesses.
“We do have guidelines on Park Avenue, Morse Boulevard and New England Avenue,” Weldon said. “If those guidelines have resulted in the kind of development and redevelopment that is non-controversial and by definition complementary, maybe we can look at that as the example case.”
Weldon added that the city can’t have too much control over development projects though, as that can push developers away. It’s better to have “guidelines” instead of strict “architectural standards,” he said.
Board member Stephen Flanagan noted that the city has had some great opportunities to develop properties at the gateway into Winter Park along U.S. 17-92, but hasn’t made the most of them due to being too strict. The old site of the Mt. Vernon Inn, which once held a lot of promise, has now become a typical shopping strip center, Flanagan said. The original development was a mixed use residential/commercial project with 53 upscale apartments, six retail spaces and three restaurant spaces, an endeavor that residents and City Commissioners felt was “out-of-scale.”
“I was really kind of disappointed,” he said.
“I want to get back to the corridors and determine whether something can be done with the 17-92 corridor that helps rise above the mediocrity that some developments have been forced into by the comp plan and land development regulations.”
Weldon said he hopes to continue striving to find a way to encourage the right kind of development Winter Park wants to see.
“I’m very open to ways that we can change that,” Weldon said. “When somebody shows up and pays $2 million an acre and says ‘I want to build this and it’s in your codes,’ what choice do we have?”