East Colonial Drive Vision
The East Colonial Drive corridor between Bumby Avenue and Semoran Boulevard today consists of a patchwork of various sized strip commercial uses which create difficulty in assembly for redevelopment. The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) controls a large number of City-owned properties along the corridor, and relies on the lease income from these properties to support the Executive Airport’s operations.
The corridor is experiencing a decrease of business and economic activity related to the recession, coupled with a building stock that is nearing the end of its life cycle. At the same time, the amount of land zoned for commercial development is much more than can be supported by the population it serves. The result has been a succession of commercial redevelopments that cannibalize existing building sites without expanding the economic base of either the airport or the larger corridor.
However, this downward trend can be reversed by refocusing development towards a diversity of options that have been previously overlooked. These new options include housing, lodging, office and other uses that would expand the market for commercial activities, while lessening the oversupply of retail uses on the corridor. A long-term strategy for creating a more customer-friendly “town center” supported by a more inter-connected street network and transit system will go hand-in-hand with this new vision.
As new development occurs, short-range and long-range infrastructure improvements must be coordinated so as not to preclude future investment. A more attractive Colonial Drive street right-of-way, a new roadway along the Fairgreen corridor to increase traffic capacity, a definable block system, and future transit readiness are all important considerations to allowing a diversity of development and increased densities and intensities in the long-term.
Colonial Town Center is strategically located between Downtown Orlando, Winter Park and the University of Central Florida. The redevelopment that has already occurred at Baldwin Park during the past decade shows the viability of refocusing redevelopment towards a diversity of options. The Colonial Drive corridor can be positioned to support a greater mix of uses that place residents closer to the wide variety of services that this area already offers.
This vision plan engages major property owners, including GOAA, and the community on fulfilling a coordinated strategy that ultimately will add to the economic vibrancy of the corridor.
· As a result of economic stress related to the recent economic recession, and an aging building stock, some businesses have either moved to new locations in the corridor or are considering doing so, leaving behind vacant, difficult-to-lease structures and parcels.
· Many older outmoded building sites may only be suitable for a limited range of (often marginal) uses. Redesigning or assembling these sites for redevelopment may be even more difficult than re-using the buildings themselves – except on the GOAA property (see below). Some of these outmoded building sites are in the unincorporated county, but within the study area boundary.
· The GOAA parcels represent a major opportunity, because it may be possible to change their shapes, sizes and depths to set the stage for redevelopment, consistent with the OEA Airport Layout Plan (ALP) and FAA regulations.
· What are the most constrained privately-owned parcels? Is there anything that can be done to reduce these constraints to encourage redevelopment – rezoning, ROW abandonments, strategic purchases for consolidation, etc?
· As parcels are assembled for redevelopment, can a logical block structure be established to define the town center?
· Colonial Drive is a constrained 6-lane arterial roadway that cannot be widened (nor is widening particularly desirable even if it were possible). Options to improve the functioning of the network include new roadway connections such as a potential Andes Avenue extension and a re-alignment and extension of Fairgreen Street.
· Transit alternatives such as Bus Rapid Transit or Streetcars may also be considered. Increasing the transit capacity of Colonial Drive may require exclusive transit lanes. Fairgreen Street is important to think about in this context – should Fairgreen be a 4-lane road (Bumby to Andes) in order to make Colonial a transit-ready corridor?
· While a higher intensity mixed-use “town center” is the long-term goal, a more achievable objective for the next decade will be a greater horizontal mixture of uses within the corridor. Parcel assembly requirements for transit-supportive land uses need to be looked at carefully – i.e. to target redevelopment opportunities.
· To reach consensus with GOAA and other major property owners on an overall economic development, planning and transportation strategy for the Colonial Drive corridor, with particular emphasis on the area between Bumby Avenue and Semoran Boulevard.
· To expand revenue opportunities for property owners and create a synergy that will increase property values within the corridor.
· To envision how future redevelopment of and new uses for major parcels such as Fashion Square, Koger Center, Colonial Plaza, Best Buy etc. can transform the Colonial Drive corridor – its urban form, land use, transportation, and regional economic role. With these major parcels in mind, how do the smaller parcels along the corridor fit in and how does the corridor itself fit into its surroundings?
· To update Orlando Executive Airport’s commercial development planning, with particular attention to properties fronting on Colonial Drive and Maguire Boulevard, and secondarily the southeast quadrant of the airport.
· To identify and reach consensus on near-term, mid-range, and long-range transportation improvements including:
· One or more agreements between the City and GOAA regarding transportation improvements (to be negotiated based on results/findings of the planning study).
· By accomplishing these objectives, the City and GOAA will be able to make informed decisions pertaining to leasing and re-development opportunities for their properties along the corridor. Other major property owners would also benefit from such an area-wide planning effort.
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