WINTER PARK — The urban design and architectural firm Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP, presented its preferred alternative design of the Sitzmark properties in Winter Park, what they titled a mixed-use hybrid, during the town’s first public hearing for the properties.
The newest design featured a mixed use of the properties, including everything from a small education center that would be devoted to the National Sports Center for the Disabled to a small, fresh foods market and commercial and residential buildings.
While members of the town council praised the newest design, concerned citizens and business owners from the Fraser Valley criticized the design’s proposed use of commercial space, saying the town already has plenty of commercial space that remains empty.
Mark Hanna, property manager of Winter Park’s Cooper Creek Square, submitted a petition from business owners of the now pedestrian center of the town that urged the town council to respect the town’s existing master plan, which labels the north part of town as a concentration for pedestrian use and the south part of town an area for vehicle use.
Several citizens spoke at the meeting, saying the town needs a larger year-round resident population to be able to support any new commercial developments. They also said the town should be more focused on cultivating year-round residents than paying a design firm for services.
Town Councilman Chris Seemann commented that deciding to build more services or try to bring more year-round residents into the town is like deciding, “which came first the chicken or the egg?”
Tom Carry, vice president of guest experience for Winter Park Resort, borrowed a quote from the popular movie Field of Dreams saying “If we build a better town, they will stay.”
Carry also went on to say “I think it is fantastic what this group has done, and I applaud you for your efforts.”
Jeff Davidson, the owner of Hernando’s Pizza also commended the town on taking a step in the right direction and moving plans for the property forward. Winter Park should focus on making the town of Winter Park as a whole the core area, he said.
The next public hearing regarding the Sitzmark properties will be held at the town’s next regular meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334