Lake Eola Heights property owners sue city of Orlando to tear down buildings



ORLANDO, Fla. - Attorneys who own two properties in the Lake Eola Heights neighborhood are suing the City of Orlando for the right to tear them down and put up a three-story office building.

Eyewitness News discovered the area's historic designation is the only thing stopping the buildings from being torn down.

"The stock is dwindling, and we feel that we should be able to stop the destruction," said Lake Eola Heights Historic Neighborhood Association President David Martens.

The property owners said they asked to be removed from the historic district decades ago, but the city said the paperwork wasn't clear, so the properties are still considered protected.

Both sides said they are willing to settle, but they have to go through the Neighborhood Association first.

Under a proposed settlement, at least one building would stay, but if the case is taken to court and the property owners win, they could eliminate both buildings.

"The risk in going for all or nothing is by going to a jury, they may not understand a land-use issue and that they might say ‘OK, we'll tear the houses down,’" said Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan.

As president of the Neighborhood Association, David Martens said he's ready to gamble.

"As a neighborhood we have come out unanimously to protect both structures, 330 as well as 334," Marten said.

The city's attorney will present the settlement agreement to the Neighborhood Association Thursday at 7 p.m.

The agreement would have to be voted on by City Council in a future meeting.