- October 26, 2016
On Oct. 4, Ocoee commissioners gave the green light to a list of downtown redevelopment projects to be partially funded by a $25 million bond.
The 18 projects, worth a collective $43.5 million, have been in the works for several months. Once the bond issue is finalized, city staff will have five years to complete it. So far, the commission has only approved which projects will be given priority and partial funding by the $25 million it intends to borrow.
“To be brutally honest, the real challenge is ahead of us now,” Assistant City Manager Craig Shadrix said. “I don’t want to take away from all the work that we’ve done so far, but once we close on the bond issue, the pressure is going to be on us to get all these projects constructed in a timely fashion.”
The capital projects included on the high-priority list were chosen due to time sensitivity and their relation to other surrounding projects because, for the sake of efficiency, some projects need to be completed before others.
“It’s very important that we consider all the dependencies of the different projects in relation to one another while we’re in the design phase,” Shadrix said. “Some things are already under design, but it’s a simple matter of making the best possible use of tax dollars. I think our citizens would be very upset if we just went out there in a linear fashion and started building projects, only to have to tear up pieces of them and rework them as we completed other projects.”
With the current estimated project costs, the highest price tags are for Bluford Avenue’s reconstruction at $9.6 million, City Hall’s relocation at $9 million and the downtown stormwater system project at $8.1 million. The downtown gravity sewer system project’s estimated cost is undetermined right now because the plans have not yet been designed.
“We have a whole bunch of projects worth a whole bunch of money that we’d like to do in an ideal world, but we’re only going to be able to borrow about $25 million for the general fund bond issue, and we’re only going to be able to build that master stormwater system with our stormwater fund,” Shadrix said. “So anything on top of that will have to come either from developer contributions or other funding as it becomes available.”
Given its demand, and the perceived need for a facility to host large events in West Orange county, the $4 million Lakeshore Center expansion project was voted to be added to the funded projects list as well.
“There’s a market that’s currently not being served by any facility in West Orange County for large events, and this (Lakeshore Center) expansion project will allow us to have 400 people,” Shadrix said. “There’s not such a facility in West Orange County, which means people will have to go and contract with the hotel banquet halls down on (International) Drive or Disney, which has a much higher price tag.”
Some supporting road extension and improvement projects totaling $17.5 million were left unfunded for now. The Oct. 18 commission meeting will see a vote on the design standards for the redevelopment master plan.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]