FORECAST: Fifteen minutes from everywhere: opening phase 1 City Center West Orange postponed to 2024 | West Orange Times & Observer

It has been four years since the developer of the Ocoee City Center West Orange project innovated.

David Townsend, CEO of CCWO, rocked the city of Orange West when he unveiled his “city within the city” project. The massive 300,000 square foot mixed-use facility includes retail, office and residential space. The site is located north of State Road 50 and east of South Bluford Avenue with Maine Street running through it, resting on approximately 100 acres of land.

Originally, the first phase of the project was due to be completed in 2022. However, Townsend said the schedule has been pushed back two years – until 2024 – due to delays caused by COVID-19.

However, Townsend believes that two years is a short waiting period for what he hopes will be a source of pride not only for the city but also for future residents of downtown Orange West.

“It’s designed around the convenience of residents,” Townsend said of the project. “The way the whole project is designed, you’re a few hundred yards from grocery stores, restaurants, hair, and shopping. You literally just have to cross the street and you’re right on top of the retail space or you live above, so it’s designed for renter convenience. You don’t have to get in your car to go to the grocery store.

Ocoee Planning and Zoning Director Mike Rumer believes that when it finally opens, the project will be a “destination location” not just for resort residents, but for all residents of the Town of Ocoee.

“It’s just off (Florida) Turnpike, (State Road) 408 and (State Road) 429. It will be a destination with the retail businesses and restaurants there… in this first phase,” said said Rumer.

He said City Center West Orange had already submitted another building permit for one of the structures linked to the project. The car parks that will be part of it have already been built.

“They have finalized the design of the enveloping building, and it will be a big mobilization,” said Rumer. “You won’t be able to get near the place for a good year and a half.”

THE FUTURE

So far, only phase 1 of the project has been approved. This will include two mixed-use buildings, one residential and one vacation rental. Both will have retail and restaurant spaces, as well as office space. This will occupy 200,000 of the total 300,000 square feet of the entire project.

Phase 1 will also include between 500 and 600 apartments, mainly used as living space for the elderly. Phase 2, once approved, would provide an additional 700 apartments. Once the entire project is completed, there would be over 2,000 apartments for a variety of residents.

With amenities like grocery stores, restaurants and more within walking distance, residents wouldn’t have to rely on their cars for much. Plenty of garage space should be provided in the property. Easy access to Orlando attractions and the Orlando International Airport should also be a draw.

“You’re, in essence, 15 minutes from anywhere,” Townsend said. “Although it’s a quiet 25 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, it’s not that crazy of a commute, like going to (Los Angeles International Airport).”

After initially slated for completion in 2022, Phase 1 is now expected to be completed in 2024 after experiencing delays due to the pandemic. Townsend said while the work inside the office has changed, that doesn’t mean construction has been suspended.

“We’re doing well right now,” Townsend said. “Like everyone else, we do our best to keep the fires burning. Other than that, not much has really changed, other than that we are not in our offices. We are still building and moving forward. It will take a little longer, but we are continuing.

The rise in inflation, which peaked at 6.8% in November, added an additional 6% to 8% cost on construction goods to the company, on top of its budget of $ 200 million. dollars for phase 1 of the project. Townsend, however, said he was optimistic the company would stay on budget.

GROW WITH OCOEE

In addition to downtown Orange West, there is still a lot going on in Ocoee as the city struggles to keep up with the growing population.

According to the latest estimates provided by the city, the city’s population was 48,623 at the 2020 census, but is now steadily approaching 50,000.

Rumer said most of the projects that were already in development before the pandemic were still operating at full capacity. This includes the renovation of the exterior of the Town Hall, which is expected to be completed in April or May.

“I’m on the first floor, so I’ll be the last to move in,” Rumer said. “The skin on the outside is finishing.”

One of the other projects early in the works is Master Pond Park in downtown Ocoee. The park will stretch from Bluford Avenues to Cumberland Avenues. The area between Cumberland Avenue and West Oakland Avenue will be renovated to accommodate the upcoming expansion and the inevitable foot traffic the park will bring.

“These are good ways to get into this project,” Rumer said.

The project is estimated at $ 6 million.

The city has also allocated $ 2.25 million for the Wellness Park construction project and $ 750,000 for the Bluford Complete Street project. A total of $ 690,000 is set aside for other park improvements, including $ 100,000 to replace natural grass with synthetic turf at Withers-Maguire House, $ 170,000 to renovate the tennis court at Tiger Minor Park and $ 250,000 for the installation of a skate park at a designated park.

Rumer said City Manager Robert Frank and City Commissioners remain committed to supporting growth for Ocoee’s future.

“We had great support (from the commission),” Rumer said. “They see the vision; they get it. We are starting to see a lot of rehabilitation, a lot of sales… and this migration of jobs. Value is added downtown, even with all the framing work we do.

“(The commission) is on board; they are excited, ”he said. “They understand the fruit of what we’re trying to do, and it works. This takes time. Make the meatloaf that you don’t see, but end up enjoying.

Townsend agrees.

“Ocoee is a wonderful place; a very nice city, and the people who run it are very accommodating, and it’s a very progressive place, ”he said. “The staff and Mayor (Rusty) Johnson have been wonderful. I couldn’t be happier for their help in helping us with the project. It has been the nicest relationship with the city I have ever had while developing. ”

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