Winter Park city leaders may expand city limits



WINTER PARK, Fla. - Winter Park economic development leaders are studying maps to see if there's any land tax-burdened Winter Park can annex from Orange County.

Economic leaders say attracting new business will benefit the taxpayers.

On any given day, Park Avenue is packed with people ready to spend money. Shops and restaurants reap the benefits but the people who live in the neighborhoods around the popular hangouts are the ones paying the bigger tax bill.

"With residents picking up 80 percent of the taxes they're really being overburdened," Chamber of Commerce president Patrick Chapin said.

It's why city economic leaders are looking to bring in more businesses and one idea on the table is stretching the borders of Winter Park.

"The city of winter park is landlocked, which means there's nowhere for the city to expand, unless it annexes further east into Orange County which would give it more land and add more businesses to its tax base.

The city annexed about 50 acres of land last year for development here off 17-92, but space to build on is hard to find, which is why redevelopment ideas are being tossed around as well.

There are talks to repurpose Mt Vernon Inn. A number of closed businesses are right off Fairbanks Avenue, a main street through Winter Park.

It's prime real estate that officials say if developed right, could bring in a lot of money for the city.

"Everyone in Winter Park is very cautious and rightfully so, we don't want to grow too fast, we want to have quality projects," Chapin said.