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I figured I'd post this because Winter Park seems to be going through a bit of a boom itself. I know of three major projects, the Regent, the BOA building on park, and this loft project.


An old neighborhood's last stand

A store owner in a chic Winter Park area fights eviction by a developer.

By Christopher Sherman | Sentinel Staff Writer

Posted December 13, 2004

WINTER PARK -- Abdul Alibana is the final obstacle to the complete redevelopment of Hannibal Square East -- the frontier of west Winter Park's dilapidated-to-deluxe makeover.

Alibana is two years into a five-year lease, but developer Dan Bellows, Alibana's landlord since June, has taken the convenience store owner to court for eviction. The lawsuit filed in Orange County Circuit Court alleges that Alibana allows drug dealers to operate outside his store and even hide their drugs inside when the police come.

Alibana denied the allegations and Winter Park Police said they have nothing to support those claims. Alibana's former landlord called him an ideal tenant, and neighbors in the mostly black community his Lyman Food Mart serves said it's just the latest attempt to drive them out.

"Those are false allegations," Alibana said. "Those are defamation on my character and slander on my name."

"Mr. Alibana never gave us any trouble," said Janie Baker, who sold the building to Bellows. "He was against any criminal activities. He was one of the best tenants we ever had."

Bellows said he'll make his case in court, but would not give specifics.

"For 14 years I've stood down there and watched drug dealing," Bellows said.

If Alibana ran a law-abiding business he wouldn't have any trouble, he said.

Bellows' Hannibal Square Ltd. owns the redeveloped northern half of the block anchored by the fashionable Dexter's restaurant. His St. Michael Ltd. owns the southern half of the block.

Alibana is the only remaining tenant since Bellows finished buying Hannibal Square East, a block with halves as stark as black and white.

At the north end, patrons step out of luxury SUVs onto a bricked street for dinner at Dexter's, shopping in a boutique or an appointment with a Pilates instructor.

To the south, all of the apartments are vacant. Those who live nearby talk on the sidewalk outside Alibana's store. A young boy steps inside, fills a foam cup with boiled peanuts, lays a dollar on the counter and leaves without a word.

Bellows said that Alibana did not pay his rent on time, but that wasn't mentioned in the eviction notice or the lawsuit filed Oct. 1. Court records show that since the suit was filed Alibana has made full rent payments to the court registry Nov. 1 and Dec. 1.

Alibana has run his store -- consisting mostly of a wall cooler packed with beer and soda, a few shelves of canned goods and a crockpot of boiled peanuts -- since 2000, but in 2002 he signed his current five-year lease with a five-year option.

Bellows bought the building, which included two apartments above the store, in June. In August, Alibana received a certified letter from St. Michael Ltd.'s lawyer notifying him that he was in violation of his lease for not maintaining the property in "a good and safe condition."

The letter cited "over 10 police incidents reports" related to criminal activity at the site in the past two years and gave Alibana seven days to "cure" the problems or face immediate termination of the lease.

Winter Park Police records show that since Sept. 2002 police have responded to the address 14 times.

In July 2003, a man shoved Alibana and stole a carton of cigarettes. That December, a counterfeit five-dollar bill was passed at his store. In February, police responded to a report of open alcohol containers outside the store.

The responding officer wrote in the report that "no violations were observed upon my arrival. The individuals were cooperative during the consensual encounter . . . and agreed to leave the area."

The officers reminded Alibana that he could not permit the consumption of alcohol outside his store.

Other calls were for things such as loitering or trespassing.

Yet the lawsuit alleged Alibana "permits drug dealers to ply their trade outside the store and then upon arrival of officers, allows these drug dealers to flee into the store and stash illegal narcotics about the premises."

Lt. Charlie Crampton, spokesman for the Winter Park Police, said he did not see anything of that sort in the records during the past two years and the incidents that did occur don't appear to be Alibana's doing.

Alibana's store is on the edge of what Crampton called a culture clash, between the neighborhood's longtime residents -- who have always hung out in an area that used to be filled with small stores and pool halls -- and the new businesses and condo dwellers.

"That's one of the last stores where the locals still congregate," Crampton said.

Bellows' lawyer Todd Norman wrote in a September letter to Alibana's attorney that a parking garage is being permitted for the block and that Bellows will build around the store if necessary. "Because the leased premises are located in the area where the parking garage, and not shops, will be built, the leased premises simply do not interfere with his plans," he wrote.

Baker, Alibana's former landlord, is happy the father of two who works alone in the shop every day is fighting back, but feared for her former tenant's chances. "You cannot go to court with these people that have a lot of money. You can't afford to stand up for your rights."

If Bellows had come to Alibana as a businessman to talk about his plans for development, the shop owner says, he would have discussed the issue.

"But he never came to me," Alibana said. "He came to me as a bully."

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By Christopher Sherman | Sentinel Staff Writer

Posted January 16, 2005

WINTER PARK -- Spotting a friend striding toward him, Sunta Mammaloen said, "They always know where to find me."

For Mammaloen, that's Central Park, the manicured green space stretching along Park Avenue where he lounged on a bench Thursday morning.

"I've always liked the quaintness out here," said the local gym owner, sporting sunglasses, a stocking cap and flip-flops.

For the city of Winter Park, maintaining that quaintness in the shadow of four stories of condos, offices and shops will be a challenge. The city's planning and zoning board last week recommended approval for the project proposed for the 2-acre post office site.

Change is coming to what one planner called Winter Park's "living room" at the Congress for the New Urbanism Conference at Rollins College Wednesday.

The post office project that will anchor the northwest corner of the park will incorporate 130 condominiums, more than 23,000 square feet of retail and office space, a new 22,000-square-foot post office and two levels of underground parking with 515 spaces.

The mammoth scale of such a project has some Winter Park residents fearing for their city's future, while others, such as Mammaloen, base their faith on the city's track record.

Mammaloen, 38, conceded he wasn't in the loop on all of the plans for the park's redevelopment, but so far he hasn't found the city's changes objectionable.

"If it's going to disrupt this setting, I'm not for that," he said. "But I pretty much like everything they do in the city."

The post office project goes before the City Commission next week.

Any change is bound to be disruptive, but a panel of planners and architects asked to provide feedback on the park's master plan said positive changes could be made.

One suggestion was creating distinctive spaces within Central Park, such as the rose garden at New England and Park avenues.

Another was to give the park a more definite boundary on the west side, like the shops on Park Avenue form to the east.

Marcella Camblor, of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, applauded getting the U.S. Postal Service to agree to cooperate in the private redevelopment of its property by Central Park Station Partners LLC.

"I think it's great to keep a civic building on the park," she said. The scale of the project was not a concern to her. "The park is enormous," she said. "If there's an area in the city that can handle more height, it's around the park."

Before the 6-acre park is significantly altered, the question of parking must be resolved, said Don Martin, the city's director of planning and community development. One of the ideas that came out of the park's master plan a couple of years ago was "undergrounding" two city parking lots between New York Avenue and the railroad tracks in order to expand the park to 10 acres.

The panel supported the idea of burying the parking and covering it with park space. Technical studies to determine its feasibility have begun.

But Victor Dover, of Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning, which created Park Avenue's master plan, lamented the parking hurdle facing so many downtown redevelopments even while supporting the idea of hiding the parking.

Few people are probably as familiar with every foot of the park as Leo Coleman of Orlando, one of two people who handle the park's maintenance for the city.

Coleman has grown to love the park in the more than two years he has been cutting, trimming and edging its grounds.

"It's beautiful, especially after we just cut it, like today," Coleman said. "This is one of the parks in the area where the people really use it."

Coleman hadn't seen the park's master plan but said his concern was that it didn't become crowded.

"This is very subtle -- peaceful."

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Winter Park OKs massive makeover


By Christopher Sherman | Sentinel Staff Writer

Posted January 27, 2005

WINTER PARK -- In three years, new neighbors will move to the edge of Central Park, into condos at the redeveloped post office site downtown.

By then residents should be able to tell whether years of design and deliberate attention to detail can make four stories of shops, offices and condominiums look as if they belong on the northwest corner of the city's delicate centerpiece.

"The vision was to create primarily a residential environment along with some upscale commercial that would not overwhelm the park but visually expand it," said developer Stephen Walsh, managing partner of Broad Street Partners -- part of the project's Central Park Station Partners team.

The Winter Park City Commission approved that plan on a 3-0 vote Monday. Commissioner Doug Storer recused himself because of a conflict, and Commissioner Barbara DeVane did not attend.

Making a 22,000-square-foot post office, 27,000 square feet of office and retail space and 130 condos blend into the park's setting came down to details.

Those started with hiding two floors of parking underground to be a "good steward" of Winter Park, said architect John Cunningham, design partner with ACI Inc., project designers.

At ground level, fountains, trees and gardens will try to ease the transition from nature to commerce on the park side and continue to the upper floors with balconies and terraces.

"The natural features of the park grow into and through the project," said Larry Adams, ACI's managing partner.

As the building rises from the park's west side, the floors cascade back to break up what would otherwise be an imposing four-story wall.

"This is not a four-story height along any edge facing the park," Adams said.

The more than 500-foot-long building will be designed in an English cottage style, and Cunningham thinks the pitched roofs, blown stucco, wrought-iron railings, scored stone, bountiful plant life and other features will break up and nestle the project alongside the park.

For many residents, the scale may be hard to accept at the center of a city long known for its quaintness.

"Granted, we needed a new post office. I just object to it being so massive," said Eleanor Fisher, a resident active in the city's historic preservation. Something more modest would be more in keeping with the passive nature of the park, she said.

But the scale was necessary to pull off the public-private partnership between the developer and the U.S. Postal Service, which will have its expanded post office in the building's ground floor, said Don Martin, Winter Park's planning and community development director.

From the developer's perspective, the cost of land and the demand for upscale downtown living also drove the project's scale, Walsh said. Movement toward the suburbs has reversed, and those with the means are looking toward redeveloped downtowns, he said.

Merchants along Park Avenue, many of whom signed a petition supporting the project, need the new residents it will bring, Walsh said.

Forest Michael, president of the Central Park Foundation Inc., is concerned there will not be enough buffer between those new residents and the park. He fears private space on the upper floors clashing with public space in the park.

The foundation has proposed putting a park-support building south of the post office project, where the Chamber of Commerce is now, to buffer that end from what the city hopes is expanded park space in place of two existing parking lots.

Yet Michael welcomes the new neighbors. As a resident of downtown, he said more residents will reinvigorate the area.

With the post office project dwellers and other planned residential projects, "it's going to be like a new downtown neighborhood," he said.


Thank GOD there wont be "an imposing four story wall on Central Park."

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Hospital grows to hold baby boom

Citing the region's population rise and a focus on women's services, Winter Park plans a new building.

Winter Park Memorial Hospital unveiled plans Saturday for a $10.6 million, four-story addition that includes a floor devoted to women who have just given birth.

The project, part of the hospital's increased focus on women's services, is set to break ground in May and be completed in 2006. It is the first phase of a major expansion planned for the 275-bed hospital that will turn 50 years old in February, said Ken Bradley, the hospital's chief executive officer.

Owned by Florida Hospital, Winter Park Memorial's capacity could grow to as many as 400 beds when the work is completed. No timetable or cost has been set for all the renovations, which eventually will include expansion of the emergency department and other improvements.

Bradley said the first step is to build the four-story addition that brings another 55,000 square feet of space to the aging hospital. He said it needs room to accommodate families in eastern Orange County. In 2000, Winter Park Memorial doctors delivered 1,578 babies. They brought 2,514 babies into the world last year -- a 59 percent increase from 2000.

"We're growing to keep up with the region and the tremendous demand that we've had for our services," Bradley said.

On Saturday, Florida Hospital announced the plans at a black-tie affair at Universal Studios Orlando. Two donations from private charities were celebrated -- $3 million from the Winter Park Health Foundation for the future emergency-department expansion, and $1 million from Dr. Phillips Inc., which will be used in the initial four-story structure.

The first floor will hold diagnostic services such as radiology; the second is a mezzanine that won't be open to the public; and the fourth will have 20 private patient rooms.

The third floor will be home to Dr. Phillips baby place, which includes 20 private suites for women who have given birth. The hospital currently has 23 beds for mothers, so the additional suites nearly double the hospital's capacity.

Ed Furey III, president of Dr. Phillips Inc., said the "baby place" would serve children and families from many communities, well beyond the city limits of Winter Park.

"We also looked at the geographic population that's being served -- it's really all of east Orange County, and we saw a real benefit to them," Furey said.

Bradley said Winter Park Memorial ranks third in the region for its number of deliveries annually -- behind Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women and Florida Hospital's main campus in Orlando. And while Winter Park is dwarfed by Arnold Palmer, where more than 11,000 babies were born in 2004, Bradley said the smaller hospital is holding its own.

"We have an outstanding [obstetrics] program, and I know Arnold Palmer has an outstanding program," Bradley said. "I think each has different markets that they serve and unique services."

The expansion makes sense because obstetrical services rank high as a source of revenue for hospitals -- behind cardiology care and orthopedics, said Becky Cherney, executive director of the Florida Health Care Coalition.

"In health care these days you follow the numbers and you follow the money," Cherney said. "The birth rate supports [expanding services] and delivering babies is a profitable business for hospitals."

Orlando Regional Healthcare -- which owns Arnold Palmer -- is constructing an 11-story, $100 million obstetrics hospital. The building also is expected to be finished in 2006, with 102 private suites, said Cathie Brazell, administrator of obstetric services at Arnold Palmer. She said the new site eventually could reach 17,000 births a year.

Beyond the initial phase, Winter Park plans to add more beds and reorganize its emergency department, which is seeing greater numbers of patients every year.

The Winter Park Health Foundation wrote a $3 million check for the effort because emergency services are crucial to every community, said Allan E. Keen, chairman of the group's board of trustees.

"It's obviously a key component in the health-care system," Keen said. "It's a spot that needs to be done right."

Robyn Shelton can be reached at 407-420-5487 or [email protected].

Some Images of phase 1 This is the design the whole hospital will have when the whole project is done. I think it looks really nice.



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It's too bad that the posted version of OBJ lags behind the printed version. In the new Feb 18-24 print version is a story on the WP Post Office / Condo project with a nice picture. It's only 4 stories and the top floor looks like mostly dormers and gables. There are also two below ground floors of parking. What is most striking is the length of the thing ... long! Easily half the length of the current Central Park.

It says that the plan also doubles the size of Central Park; taking in west to New York avenue. It says, 4-5 years before the full park expansion is realized.

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It's too bad that the posted version of OBJ lags behind the printed version.  In the new Feb 18-24 print version is a story on the WP Post Office / Condo project with a nice picture.  It's only 4 stories and the top floor looks like mostly dormers and gables.  There are also two below ground floors of parking.  What is most striking is the length of the thing ... long!  Easily half the length of the current Central Park. 

It says that the plan also doubles the size of Central Park; taking in west to New York avenue.  It says, 4-5 years before the full park expansion is realized.


Can you post a link to the article or upload some pictures on the forum? I can't find the article and am in suspense! Thanks.

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I don't know if this is new or something I just noticed. Either way it's sure to upset a few folks in Winter Park. I just went to the Regent website and it says, "The Regent Orlando" then in smaller print is says "in Winter Park."

Now that's a slap. It's worse than the "Orlando-Sanford Airport"

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The Sentinel business section had a blurb about this a few weeks ago. Maybe it was Susan Strothers' column, I can't remember. I think the article stated that the name change was designed with out of town clients in mind -- because the name Orlando is more recognizable than Winter Park, etc...

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