Map of properties owned by R-Kid that could be impacted by a proposed mixed-use development for Ivanhoe Village. Image courtesy Gordon Spears.
In the same week in which we learned that Red Fox Lounge, Theatre Downtown, the Peacock Room and Patsio’s Diner are closing, we’ve also learned that something’s afoot in Ivanhoe Village that could significantly alter the tone of that neighborhood as well.
The owner of a number of buildings in the neighborhood – R-Kid Properties – is planning to sell multiple properties it owns in the area. Most of the properties are located along the Alden Road corridor, Ivanhoe Village’s industrial-chic warehouse district located directly behind the neighborhood’s Orange Avenue commercial strip (though a handful are located on adjoining streets). The party who has expressed interest in purchasing the properties and redeveloping them is Orlando developer Chance Gordy of Real Estate Inverlad, which has completed several projects in Orlando, including 101 Eola condominiums, which houses Mucho Tacos & Tequila, and the Jackson in Thornton Park. Those who’ve been alerted to Gordy’s interest in the neighborhood say they believe his plans for Ivanhoe will, similarly, include multi-story residential buildings.
We reached out to Gordy to ask him what his plans were for the project, but he was not in his office today (we will update this story when he returns our call), but several tenants of buildings that may be affected by the sale, as well as members of the neighborhood, have confirmed that letters have recently been received by tenants notifying them that their leases will not be renewed. Those businesses include performing-arts space the Venue, owned by Blue Starr, who says she’s fortunate that the building she is in “happens to be out of the strike zone right away.” So she has a little more time than most (many businesses say the letters give them approximately a year once a sale is complete to find a new home) to figure out what to do – all are hoping that Gordy and Inverlad will try to respect the independent, creative character of the neighborhood, which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two years.
“From what I’ve been told, they are trying to preserve the artistic integrity of the neighborhood,” she says. “And I hope that works out in my favor
But that warehouse feel? [Will] that really cool artsy neighborhood feeling you get from Ivanhoe be gone? Probably. And that’s sad.”
Gordon Spears, vice president of the Lake Formosa Neighborhood Association, which represents the neighborhood adjoining the Ivanhoe Village commercial strip, says he heard similar concerns from several Alden Road tenants, so he met with Gordy to discuss his plans for the area. Spears says that the properties Gordy is interested in are already zoned for high-density mixed-use development, so he can indeed develop with multi-story condominiums if he should choose to do so – and Spears says that a 500-plus residential mixed-use development is essentially what Gordy initially had in mind.
While that may strike fear into the hearts of some – particularly those who embrace the small-village feeling the neighborhood has now – Spears says that early conversations with Gordy indicate that the developer is willing to discuss concerns with neighbors and perhaps consider working arts and creative spaces into his plans. “We have a lot of creative industries that have grown up in the warehouse district,” Spears says. “We have Steadfast Brand, an international clothing brand, we have artists, we have two or three print shops, and a lot of other stuff going on as far as creative industries go. It’s a real economic engine for our district.
I expressed to him that we don’t want to lose that.”
According to Spears, Gordy plans to attend an upcoming Lake Formosa Neighborhood Association meeting on Oct. 21, at which he will talk to residents about the project. Spears says that he’s hoping the meeting will be an opportunity for the neighborhood to offer constructive input on the proposal – and that Gordy is open to taking the concerns to heart, as the developer won’t have to jump through as many hoops as some to get his project approved by the city.
“It’s a very different situation than in Mills Park or in College Park on Princeton, where the developers have to go for variances to get things done,” he says. “Chance doesn’t need that, he’s already got it. So our only chance with this is to convince him that there’s a better idea, other than what he’s already thought of. We are not opposing his development because we know that’s futile. What we’re trying to do is come up with an idea that solves the planning issue sin our district and makes a space for the creative industries to stay.”
And, says Spears, new development doesn’t have to be a bad thing for a growing neighborhood.
“Really, if we could have a real, true mixed-use project that incorporates commercial, employment opportunities in the district, as well as more housing, I thi,k that’s a win-win for everybody,” he says. “I would love for this to be a happy ending story, where we can work with the developer and help him bring a world-class, mixed-use project to our area.”
Interested in learning more about the future of Ivanhoe Village? Attend the Lake Formosa Neighborhood Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Loch Haven Neighborhood Center. Spears says that in addition to Gordy, he has invited members of the city's transportation and planning departments to attend.