The stalled central point of Winter Park’s Orange Avenue Overlay became the focus of a proposed startup space when Commissioner Sheila DeCiccio, during the Feb. 22 City Commission meeting, floated the idea of creating a request for proposal (RFP) for an incubator based on a popular local venue.
“Real entrepreneurship incubators are like what is happening at East End Market,” she said. “We can provide an opportunity to start a business in Winter Park on Progress Point, although on a much smaller scale than East End Market.”
Redesigns and cost increases have kept Progress Point from seeing much actual progress since last year’s tree planting. Among its elements are pedestrian connectivity and outdoor community spaces; however, a designated half-acre pad for future construction is also an approved part of the design that took a back seat to green space development. DeCiccio’s idea would speed up the RFP process for that pad, filling it with new construction that would offer month-to-month leased spaces measuring between 100 and 200 square feet, similar to those at East End.
“Construction for the park has, or will be beginning very soon,” said DeCiccio. “It would be much better to have all this done at once rather than complete the park, only to close it again for new construction.”
She later added that the new building should come with a long-term land lease to avoid selling a central piece of the property, and to allow the developers to manage the venue and its leased spaces.
East End Market, at 3201 Corrine Dr. in Orlando, has been home to several merchants and food-related entrepreneurs since opening in 2013. Its month-to-month space rentals have helped launch success stories that include Gideon’s Bakehouse, Farm & Haus, and Camille, but parking can often be an issue. This was the main reason City Commission shied away from a similar use for the old library building, fearing the undersized lot would lead to street parking in the neighboring residential area.
The Progress Point building would be much smaller than the 35,000-square-foot former library and contain fewer leased spaces than East End, but the added attraction of new food vendors and small business opportunities would generate new buzz for the Orange Avenue project.
After DeCiccio’s comments at the Feb. 22 meeting, Mayor Phil Anderson noted that a previously written RFP for the Progress Point pad could be revisited for the incubator space. An agenda item for an official discussion of the project and RFP will be added to the next City Commission meeting, scheduled for March 8.
The city is also requesting input for naming the green space at Progress Point, located at the corner of Orange Avenue and Denning Drive. Winter Park residents and businesses can access a survey at cityofwinterpark.org/progress-point through Wednesday, March 8, to vote for their favorite park name. The name with the most votes will be recommended to City Commission by the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.