City leaders earmark $10K for east Winter Garden revitalization

Commissioners approved a $10,000 down payment for an east Winter Garden property.

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  • | 12:56 p.m. August 28, 2019
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Improvements in east Winter Garden are expected to come soon, City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said. 

At the Winter Garden City Commission meeting Thursday, Aug. 22, commissioners approved $10,000 for a down payment on a property in downtown Winter Garden to be used — most likely — for affordable housing. 

“We’re trying to improve the entire housing stock in the neighborhood, because there’s a lot of sub-standard housing there and it’s important that we create better-quality housing,” Bollhoefer said. “But it has to be affordable so the current residents can afford to either purchase or lease there or rent there.”

Because of the size and shape of the property, the housing most likely will have five “small-home” units to keep them high quality but still affordable, he said. The city plans to purchase the parcel in full at $105,000. 

“We’ve been acquiring lands because our intentions with the redevelopment is to build and create affordable housing in the neighborhood — and also to bring back some commercial business to the 10th and Center Street location,” Bollhoefer said.

Although a redevelopment plan can take up to 20 years like it did with the downtown plan, significant improvements will be noticeable in the near future. Bollhoefer expects housing development to begin, possibly, within the next six months. 

“We believe that the beginning of the redevelopment should start at the center: the 10th Street area, which is really right in the middle of historic east Winter Garden,” Bollhoefer said. 

The redevelopment is one piece of a larger master redevelopment and revitalization plan by the city. City officials have held meetings with community members to develop the plans and intend to continue with the meetings moving forward. Bollhoefer said the city also is working to partner with organizations such as the Peace and Justice League to develop leadership, education and training programs in the area. He wants the city to develop a better relationship with the residents.  

One strategy the city plans to use for revitalization is a more proactive approach from code enforcement. Bollhoefer said for residents who are not able to bring their properties up to code, he hopes to create a volunteer force to help.  Plans are only conceptual at this point and are subject to change in the future. 

“Our success is really built on a partnership between the city, these other nonprofits and agencies and the community,” Bollhoefer said. 


City commissioners held their first budget workshop for the 2019-20 fiscal year at the commission meeting. The city’s proposed budget is $102 million, with a millage rate of 4.5 mills, a rate that will carry over from last year. The city anticipates property tax revenue to come to about $16.2 million.

The proposed budget also features a 3% pay increase for city employees and an 11.3% increase to the city’s general fund. According to the proposal, the increase extends from positive growth in the economy.

Public hearings for the 2019-20 fiscal year are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 and 26 at City Hall.


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