Since construction of the $41.7 million Winter Park Library & Events Center began in March 2020, the project has experienced significant pushback, including lawsuits and attempts to pause construction, from some constituents and commissioners over plans and budget. The City of Winter Park is currently struggling to find sufficient funding to pay for the $750,000 outdoor amphitheater.
The campus, designed by world-renowned architect Sir David Adjaye in partnership with local firm HuntonBrady Architects, is set to open fall 2021. The project, which is being constructed by Brasfield & Gorrie General Contractors, was originally intended as a 50,000-square-foot building but evolved into 35,690-sqaure-foot structure instead. This has caused controversy as some voters feel this is not representative of the plans they approved.
Budget issues were first noted by City Manager Randy Knight at the end of March after the City unsuccessfully offered potential donors name recognition in association with the amphitheater, according to a recent Orlando Sentinel article. For the time being, the City is funding construction of the structure and continuing to seek donations.
The City raised $8.1 million to implement features including the outdoor amphitheater, rooftop venue, porte-cochere, and tiered auditorium. Orange County provided $6 million in Tourist Development tax money in hopes that these aspects of the campus would attract tourists. However, the majority of the project’s budget came from the $30 million in bonds narrowly approved by Winter Park voters in 2016.
Parking concerns have also been a recent topic of discussion surrounding the project. A parking demand study conducted by Kimley-Horn in March 2020 revealed a deficit of 16 to 18 spaces for weekday afternoons and evenings and on weekend afternoons. Since the study, however, the number of spots available has dipped by 40 spaces. To counteract the loss of spots in addition to the originally calculated deficit, the City is considering several solutions such as directing employee parking to a nearby lot and garage, using the MLK Jr. Park lot during peak hours, implementing parking along West Comstock Avenue, and coordinating valet parking during events.
For more information on the new Winter Park Library & Events Center, visit the City’s webpage on the project.