Tavistock targets site near Dr. Phillips Center for downtown art museum

More than a year after Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) announced plans to relocate to a downtown site, museum leaders may be zeroing in on a 1-acre gravel parking lot next to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

OMA's vision, which director Glen Gentele unveiled in September 2015, was to create a cultural arts district downtown and move into a new, larger facility in time for the museum's centennial in 2024. The museum engaged Tavistock Development Company to assist in site selection.

Last December, Tavistock President Jim Zboril registered a Tavistock affiliate recently renamed TDC Downtown LLC. 

The property owner, CNL affiliate CNL Dickenson, and TDC Downtown filed a zoning verification inquiry with the City of Orlando for the parcel at 503 S. Orange Ave. The site, known as the Dickenson Property, is just south of the Dr. Phillips Center and adjacent to the site of a proposed 10-story, 126-key hotel by GDC Properties.

A draft zoning verification letter from Orlando Chief Planner Mark Cechman to Zboril indicates an understanding that the developer is planning a 450,000-square-foot building with approximately 375 parking spaces for office, residential and retail uses. 

A project of that scale on a 1-acre lot would require a minimum of 11 stories - not including the structured parking. 

But when contacted by GrowthSpotter, Tavistock Spokeswoman Jessi Blakely said the zoning verification was related to the OMA site selection process.

"As part of our agreement with OMA, we are constantly reviewing and conducting due diligence on various pieces of property downtown," she said.

Orlando Spokeswoman Cassandra Lafser said the city has received no records related to a museum project at that site, and that the zoning verification letter is still being revised.

Gentele told reporters in 2015 the long-term vision involves building an iconic building of architectural significance. The proposed facility would be much larger, boasting 45,000-50,000 square feet of exhibition space, compared with the current 19,000 square feet.

The strategic plan endorsed by the Board of Trustees also included growing the arts program by adding interactive learning spaces, a film institute, a printing press, a glass art institute and an artist-in-residence program. 

"We need to creatively reinvent the OMA, making it into something that becomes a destination that one not only enters for the purpose of giving attention to the art in place or the programmatic content offered, but is also a place that one goes to as the “place” that must be seen in the city of Orlando," according to the strategic plan.

The current museum is approximately 80,000 square feet. The "Forward 100" strategic plan calls for a 184,500-square-foot expansion, plus a potential 50,000 square feet of terraces and 100,000 square feet for parking, bringing the total to about 415,000 square feet.

The board was targeting two key downtown neighborhoods: Creative Village and the Dr. Phillips Center/City Hall area.

The CNL Dickenson parcel at the corner of S. Orange Avenue and Anderson Street currently has a temporary use permit from the city allowing the owner to provide parking for the office building next door -- the future hotel site -- and overflow valet parking for the performing arts center. That permit has been in place since 2006 and was renewed last November for one year. 

An assemblage combining the CNL Dickenson property with the two adjacent parcels (the proposed hotel site and the current Dewberry office building) would approximate roughly 1.85 acres. 

William Ingraham, president of the proposed hotel developer GDC Properties, declined to comment on if GDC's hotel site is also being negotiated for sale to OMA. 

OMA Spokesman Michael Caibio declined to comment on the viability of the Dickenson property as a future museum site. The committee, working with Tavistock, has developed a shortlist of compatible sites to explore, he said.

"They've narrowed the field down to a few that really match the program direction for the future," he said.  

GrowthSpotter Editor Bob Moser contributed to this report.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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