Edyth Bush Building Ready for Demolition, Renovation

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For 47 years, the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, a local nonprofit established in 1966 by community activist and philanthropist Edyth Bush, has provided substantial contributions to the Winter Park community and beyond. As the number of organizations served nears 900, the private foundation has kicked off demolition of its decades-old facility.

The organization has long operated out of its building on Welbourne Avenue, adjacent to Cocina 214. The facility has served the organization well, but not quite embodied the organization’s vision to bring people together. Last year, the Foundation filed paperwork for the development of a new facility, thoughtfully designed to reflect the legacy of Edyth Bush and the Foundation in an exemplary fashion for all to enjoy.

The Foundation works tirelessly to support change makers in the community through a multitude of grants and to remain true to its mission to “create innovative civic solutions that help people help themselves.” Now, the organization is creating an expansive interior space, dubbed “The Edyth,” that will facilitate people coming together and collaborating in the development of more ideas for good.

“We hope that ‘The Edyth,’ as it will be known, will be a place for people [to create] ideas for good and for the future because people, pre- and post-COVID, will always be wanting to get together,” said David Odahowski, president & CEO of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation. “This will be a place for people to get together purposefully, by happenstance, or just by curiosity.”

Interior demolition has already begun, and clearance of the building is set to kick off the week of August 17. The location, just a block off Park Avenue and two blocks from the site of the future Rollins College Innovation Triangle, is essential to the vision for the building.

“The building happens to be located in the heartbeat of Winter Park,” Odahowski said. “It made sense for us to stay where we were and build something that will improve South Knowles Avenue and be a draw for pedestrians and visitors and to the Innovation Triangle and Park Avenue because we are smack dab in the middle.”

The design of the building, conceptualized by SchenkelShultz Architecture, incorporates important factors of the foundation’s history. The configuration of the structure is inspired by the shape of a theatre in honor of Edyth Bush’s background as a dancer, actress, and playwright. The face of the building will be made up completely of glass panes, acting as a transparent curtain that will reveal the beautiful interior. Additionally, each floor will have its own name. The first floor will be called “The Edyth,” also the name of the whole building, the second will be called “The Archibald,” named after Edyth’s husband, and the third floor, which will house the organization’s offices, will be called “The Foundation.”

A rendering of “The Edyth” building, designed by SchenkelShultz Architecture, overlaid on an image of Edyth Bush. Image courtesy of: Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation

In addition to the third-floor office space, patrons will find a two-story atrium, tenant suites for other organizations, spaces for local institutes to collaborate, seating areas to work and enjoy coffee or tea on the first and second floors, a community boardroom outfitted with high-end technology, and public Wi-Fi.

Odahowski also spoke on how the Foundation has endured the COVID-19 pandemic, explaining “the experience here at the foundation has been that we are doing some of our best work.” The organization has provided COVID-19 specific grants, lifted special conditions on pre-existing grants, and adjusted the purpose of grants so that non-profits could use the money more immediately in response to the pandemic. The Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College has also provided services to hundreds of nonprofits each week, providing educational courses, workshops, and speaking events. “The community relies on these private, philanthropic, grant-making organizations in the bad times just as well as in the good times,” Odahowski said.

The Foundation’s temporary offices are located conveniently just across the street from the project in the building occupied by Battaglia Group, which is leasing the space to the organization’s team. The construction, which will be completed by builders Jack Jennings & Sons, is slated to take between 16 and 18 months, and the building is expected to open in 2022. The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation plans to hold an event in celebration of the facility’s grand opening, and an even larger event the following year, 2023, to commemorate the Foundation’s 50th anniversary.

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