Orange Avenue visioning underway in Winter Park

Winter Park recently gathered input from residents and stakeholders on the future redevelopment of Orange Avenue.

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  • | 12:25 p.m. April 5, 2019
Winter Park has its eyes on the future redevelopment of Orange Avenue.
Winter Park has its eyes on the future redevelopment of Orange Avenue.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Winter Park has some major plans for Orange Avenue — and the city knows it is up to local residents to help shape the future of the major road.

Local residents had a chance to voice their thoughts, concerns and opinions regarding future redevelopment along Orange Avenue at a public input meeting Thursday, March 28, at the Winter Park Community Center.

Attendees grabbed pens and wrote answers to 15 questions on a survey and large sheets of paper posted on easels. Residents were asked what type of businesses and uses they wanted to see; what Winter Park is missing that could be on Orange Avenue; what should be done to protect and assist existing businesses along the road; what are the biggest problems or concerns the Orange Avenue area faces; and what makes a place memorable; among other questions.

Winter Parkers each had their own ideas of what they wanted and didn’t want to see along the road.

Resident Linda Manzonelli said right now it doesn’t seem safe to cross Orange Avenue and that the city should look at safety improvements if it wants people to visit the businesses. She added the redevelopment should be of a smaller scale.

“I do not want huge hotels and huge apartment buildings there,” Manzonelli said. “We can drive up to Maitland and see what that brought. ... I understand the need to adjust, but I think hotels and huge residential apartments and condos is just going to destroy the whole atmosphere of the place and bring in a lot of traffic.”

Meanwhile resident Nancy Shutts said affordable apartments at one end of Orange Avenue would make sense. 

“We could use affordable apartments for people that work in the city — teachers and staff,” Shutts said. “Let’s face it — the people that work in Winter Park have to go outside of the city to find a place that they can afford nearby. … It could be a three-story apartment condo.” 

As an avid cyclist, resident David Erne wanted to see Orange Avenue include more connectivity for bikes and pedestrians.

“The biggest opportunity is to connect to our already existing network,” Erne said. “We just did a Denning project, and this intersects Denning, so (we can) continue on with bike/ped facilities that are comfortable for all users. I’d love to see a trail along the rail — I think that’s an opportunity that would provide great connectivity and really bring vitality to the area and visitors.”

But what is Winter Park going to do with all of the information and feedback gathered at the meeting?

Winter Park Director of Planning and Community Development Bronce Stephenson said it will be compiled together to help him and city staff craft an overlay district — an additional set of codes that defines exactly what a city wants in a specific area.

“Regular zoning can do good things and it can do bad things, and one size doesn’t fit all,” he said. “(With an overlay district), you can be restrictive on the types of uses. You can encourage types of uses. You can tell people what the sidewalks have to look like, what the landscape has to be and what building materials have to be used. You can control height and setback and you can give flexibility on design. You can give options.”

It’s all meant to help the city shape Orange Avenue into the vision brought forth by the residents, Stephenson said.

“Tonight, I needed to ask the community ‘What is your vision for Winter Park?’ so I can write it and bring it back,” he said. “This gives me what I need to start writing the code, to go forward and start drafting this thing up. We’ve heard what the community thinks is important, so now we can move forward to the next step.”

Stephenson said he understands that some residents might get nervous when they hear the term “mixed-use,” often associating that word with large, 10-story projects they see elsewhere. But areas that have become famous — such as Park Avenue and Hannibal Square — comprise mixed-use development already, though on a scale that makes sense for Winter Park, he said.

Stephenson added what he really wants to accomplish with the overlay district is place-making for residents, giving them a new and unique place that is memorable and worth coming back to again and again.

“We’re creating a new special place like we have with Park Avenue and Hannibal Square — those are great examples of place-making and that’s what we want to do here in Winter Park,” Stephenson said.

A stakeholder input meeting for Orange Avenue also was scheduled Thursday, April 4, at the Winter Park Welcome Center after press time.

Stephenson said he and city staff hope to write a draft for the Orange Avenue overlay district later this year.

The Orange Avenue survey and community feedback will be posted on the city of Winter Park website in the next week or two, Stephenson said. 


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