Orlando to buy 2 downtown properties to expand Lake Eola Park

ORLANDO, Fla. — The city of Orlando will vote Wednesday and next month to purchase four sought-after downtown properties with the goal of adding to the appeal of the commercial hub.


Three of the properties will increase the amount of park space in the city’s downtown, while two will specifically expand the city’s crown jewel: Lake Eola Park.

The purchases, totaling $19.4 million, will be paid for by Community Redevelopment Agency funding and will not affect the city’s budget. The city has openly wished to buy three of them, though in the past was told the parcels weren’t for sale.

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The properties are:

  • 205 and 215 East Central Boulevard, sandwiched in between Lake Eola Park and the newly added “pocket park” where a 7-Eleven once stood. City planner David Barilla said 205 – the larger of the two buildings – will be torn down to create a gateway to Lake Eola from Rosalind Avenue, while 215 might be preserved as a park venue.
  • 30 S. Orange Avenue, which was the site of a sandwich shop that burned down and has since been a vacant lot. The city government leased the site last year with the intention of eventually buying it and turning it into a pocket park to add greenery to the city’s main street.
  • 1 N. Orange Avenue, a 10-story building considered to be Orlando’s first skyscraper, which has sat vacant for 15 years. Barilla said the city will examine keeping it as office space or converting it to housing, either market-rate or affordable, and the city is eyeing the two-story bottom floor for a possible restaurant.

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“It’s a very exciting time,” Barilla said. “We had the opportunity come up to be able to take down four very impactful… sites in the heart of downtown to not only make one vision come to fruition, but a multitude of them.”

Barilla said plans were already in the works for the 30 S. Orange Avenue project, and that would be the first to undergo visible changes.

The order of the others wasn’t as clear. Barilla said the city would likely repackage the skyscraper to a developer with conditions attached so it’s used in a way the city sees as best for the community.

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The purchases will come before commissioners on March 11. If approved, staff said the purchases would be finalized between 90 days and one year after the vote.

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