• Adoptions of the Orange Avenue Overlay

  • Adoptions of the Orange Avenue Overlay

    Adoptions of the Orange Avenue Overlay

    The Chamber’s support for the Orange Avenue Overlay District reached a crescendo Monday night when City Commissioners adopted this long-studied proposal to protect the corridor from continued blight and elevate it to new heights for future redevelopment.

    The overlay is a new zoning framework, in essence an insurance policy, establishing guidelines to reimagine land use and adapt parts of Orange Avenue and its surrounding streets with multi-modal readiness, create new urban activity centers and greenspace, increase parking inventory and trail connectivity between parks, and much more.

    When the Chamber’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to support the city’s Orange Avenue Overlay proposal last year, we launched a campaign of community-wide engagement. We began talking about things that most Chambers of Commerce do not talk about – progressive urban planning, development and redevelopment – with one goal in mind: to support making this Winter Park corridor more beautiful, more walkable, more livable and more workable, and creating a new place as illustrative of our identity as Park Avenue.

    Engaging the community took many forms. We hosted four public meetings that ultimately  educated us all: one of the City’s first public meetings presenting the overlay concept for Orange Avenue; a second presentation by City Planning Manager, Bronce Stephenson; a presentation by Rollins College’s foremost authority on the planning ideals of our founding fathers, Dr. Bruce Stephenson; and an Orange Avenue Overlay Summit offering the opportunity to hear from private sector professionals of several disciplines associated with planning, development and redevelopment. We created three different talking point documents about the overlay district proposal and enlisted Chamber members and Board members to deliver Citizen Remarks before the City Commission during its first and second reading.

    Everyone willing to listen learned about Winter Park’s planning heritage, how Orange Avenue adapted over the years to meet the demands of growth, why plotting a more deliberate approach is necessary, and above all, the importance of doing it right.
    We now speak “overlay” and our commitment to seeing its potential become reality is stronger than ever. We are grateful to our Commission for recognizing it for what it is, a framework to incentivize extraordinary improvements. The details of redevelopment will be debated with each presentation that comes before the Commission. Their authority to ultimately approve or deny each project proposal remains unchanged.

    It would be an impossibly daunting task to gather the support of property owners along this mile-long stretch of Orange Avenue for coordinated, responsible growth without the overlay district. It aligns us with the goals of Winter Park’s Comprehensive Plan and city-wide Visioning Report, and brilliantly incentivizes public and private sector collaboration.

    Supporting the City and the adoption of this overlay has been a privilege for the Winter Park Chamber. Our Commissioners and Mayor honored years of work and citizen input by adopting such a robust planning ordinance. To them and to all of Winter Park we can now say with confidence the best is yet to come for this beloved gateway to downtown Winter Park.

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