Blue Bamboo Details Plan for Winter Park’s Former Library

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Commissioners will continue reviewing the latest ideas for the reuse of Winter Park’s old library building at their June 12 meeting. The conversation was rebooted at a May 23 work session that mostly revolved around a proposal to convert the building into a new Rollins Museum of Art; however, new documents offer a more comprehensive look at an arts and cultural center by Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts.

The popular nonprofit, known for hosting live jazz performances and efforts to promote up-and-coming artists, lost its 1905 Kentucky Ave. building last year to a rent increase and has been producing its events at Casa Feliz and other area venues. Its proposal takes a “less is more” approach to the library redesign with few changes to the floor plans and cites a building code allowance that can address a major financial burden.

The cost of bringing the 45-year-old library building up to code was among the issues that doomed rehab plans by SOAR Space Museum and Harbert Realty Services, but Blue Bamboo’s proposal states that ADA compliance changes are required only if the building undergoes a change of use. “The original classification for the building as a library was “assembly.” Since there is no change of use in our proposal, ADA compliance will not need to be upgraded to current code.”

Building codes define “assembly” use as intended for worship, recreation or amusement, and includes occupancy for libraries, art galleries, exhibition halls and museums. The Blue Bamboo proposal notes that the conclusion was made with the assistance of the fire marshal, building department, and city staff.

Renovations would happen in two phases with the first – a ground-floor performance space buildout – happening within two-to-four months. The estimated cost of $352,682 would be financed by board member and public contributions, grants, sponsorships, and a construction loan. Once complete, income from ticket sales and concessions along with additional sponsorship and grant money would go toward financing phase two renovations, estimated at $356,400 with a three-year construction timeline. Phase two would include:

  • Second-floor space for music and art education, recording sessions, and gallery exhibits.
  • Third-floor space for events, rehearsals, and gallery exhibits.

Yearly operating costs and projected earnings are also part of the financial breakdowns, and use of phase two facilities would be offered to local arts nonprofits “for a nominal fee.”

Blue Bamboo floor plans show minimal changes to the existing library space. The first floor includes the performance space with office and meeting spaces and a concession area. Ticket sales and concession earnings would finance renovations to the upper floors. Images courtesy of: City of Winter Park
The second floor shows classrooms, studios and gallery spaces.
The third floor would house rehearsal, meeting and office spaces.

Blue Bamboo addresses the city’s desire to retain ownership of the property with a 40-year lease beginning at $132,000 per year with a 2% increase every five years and four 10-year renewal options. Termination would require five years notice with the City paying the depreciated value of improvements.

Meanwhile, the Rollins museum proposal is a departure from its current plan for a brand-new facility. A presentation by pro bono developer Alan Ginsburg took up most of the May 23 discussion with renderings that include a 5,500-square-foot gallery addition to the existing structure. Ginsburg said he brought the proposal to Mayor Sheila DeCiccio before attempting to offer it to Rollins representatives. Rollins College President Grant Cornwell said he considered the proposal at the request of the Mayor, but supports the idea and believes “that maybe we could see this vision into reality more quickly – for something less than what it would cost us to build the brand-new facility.” Cornwell also noted the architectural details were still under consideration.

The Rollins Museum of Art plan would retain the existing library building with an attached gallery addition. Image courtesy of: Rollins College

The same renderings are part of the Rollins proposal in the June 12 meeting agenda along with a $6 million offer to purchase the property as-is. The city’s preference to lease the property has also been considered with a 40-year lease offer with five 10-year renewal options. Rates start at $275,000 per year with 10-year rate increases based on the consumer price index and capped at 5% of the prior amount.

No construction timeline, cost breakdowns or funding sources are part of the current Rollins proposal, but a requirement to show financial viability is part of City Commission’s non-negotiable terms. The Rollins art museum would also fall under the assembly use but designation details and floor-by-floor renovation plans are not included.

During the May 23 session, Vice Mayor Todd Weaver said Orlando Opera and another nonprofit had expressed interest in presenting ideas for the library reuse, but no other plans are part of the June 12 agenda packet. City Manager Randy Knight noted that the two previous requests for library rehab proposals means the city is now “completely flexible as to how we proceed.”

The Blue Bamboo and Rollins proposals are available here. The June 12 commission meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., virtual access registration is available at

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