ORLANDO, Fla. — A pair of investors are buying property in downtown Orlando with the goal of changing up part of Church Street yet again.
The investors are spending millions trying to bring in the kinds of options downtown hasn't seen in years.
In 1889, the Church Street Train Depot brought in the first real tourists to Orlando.
In the 1970s and 1980s, it was home to a Rosie O’Grady's and Church Street Station, where almost 2 million clubgoers a year would party. The formula so successful, Disney was inspired to open Pleasure Island, now Disney Springs.
And now, two Orlando brothers have spent $4 million to turn the building into something that again draws a big crowd.
"Downtown used to be such a vibrant area and our goal is to bring some of that momentum back to downtown," said investor Rob Nunziata.
He and his brother Joe have slowly been turning empty downtown buildings into viable business venues.
They bought the historic First National Bank building, which was being used by Valencia Community College, and turned it into a Walgreens.
The investors said that kind of name brand is necessary for a downtown adding thousands of new tenants every year.
They've started an online campaign called MakeOrlandoGreat.com to ask residents to vote on the top retail choices they'd like to see. The options include everything from an Apple store to a Chick-fil-A to a Trader Joe's.
"What we've gotten the biggest response for is a food hall, similar to a Chelsea Market in NYC, or a Franklin's Hall in Tampa," said Rob Nunziata.
The investors said the time is right in Orlando with the Orlando Magic development complex and a downtown University of Central Florida campus coming soon.
"This is going to become again the central part of Orlando and we really need to bring this city back to life," said Joe Nunziata.
The results of the online vote will be part of the pitch to lure tenants.
Cox Media Group