Tower plan near Lake Eola may drop outdoor café


  • Photo by Rob Bartlett

The developer for the City Centre high-rise near Lake Eola Park may drop its plans to build an outdoor café on a leased part of the park, says Hernan Castro, who is the legal adviser and chancellor for the Cathedral Church of St. Luke's. 

Several petitioners, including the church, filed appeals in August opposing the Orlando Municipal Planning Board's decision to allow partial plans for the 28-story residential tower continue, despite protests from residents who opposed the encroachment on the park, citing environmental, building setback and quality-of-life concerns. St. Luke's, which donated the park land the proposed outdoor café could potentially be on, argued that building it would violate conditions of a deed. In a response, Jennifer Tobin, the chair of the Municipal Planning Board who also represents the developer group, argues that the deed restrictions can be disregarded after thirty years if the land was used for park purposes. 

In a quasi-judicial hearing, two petitioner appeals were dismissed for lack of standing this week, but St. Luke's appeal was stayed. A proposed settlement between the church and the group of developers, which includes Mark Bortz of Chicago and Thomas Committee of Naples, says the developers will not build on St. Luke's deeded land unless a ruling by the judge deems the deed no longer valid, Castro says. 

"St. Luke's for its part has agreed, and the developer has agreed to the settlement," he says. "All that's missing is for the city to consider it and agree." 

However, it appears this fight isn't over. The church wants large transformer boxes on the property removed because they obstruct the view of the lake and are in violation of the deed, Castro says.