Phased redevelopment & new amenity concepts take shape for MLK Jr. Park

A phased redevelopment vision is taking shape for Winter Park's Martin Luther King Jr. Park, with new sports fields and public amenities being considered that would complement the $21 million new public library and civic center now in pre-construction planning and design.

GAI Consultants' Community Solutions Group met in April and May with public focus groups to gather input on what amenities they wanted for MLK Jr. Park.

Those ideas have taken form in a new Schematic Master Plan and phasing of long-term redevelopment for the park, which was approved by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and Parks & Recreation advisory boards on Aug. 7. 

In Phase 1 redevelopment, the southern half of the park bordering Comstock Avenue could see two new basketball courts, two beach volleyball courts, three regulation soccer fields, a playground and boardwalk running along the ponds in the park's center, and expanded surface parking (140 spaces) over what is now the baseball field. 

GAI's probable cost estimate for all of Phase 1 is more than $6.75 million, as of a detailed breakdown for the project on Aug. 4. 

Phase 2 redevelopment, for the northern half of the park bordering Morse Boulevard not including the future library site, envisions a rookery island with connecting walkways in between the ponds, a splash pad and playground, fitness lawn, new restrooms building, food truck staging area, surface parking (40 spaces) along Denning Drive and a manicured gateway node to the park at the corner of Denning and Morse. 

The probable cost estimate for Phase 2 is just over $3.7 million.

GAI's next steps, which haven't been scheduled yet, include holding one more public meeting to share the proposed park design for feedback with a walking tour of the park. 

The planners will also meet with architects of the new library and events center to coordinate design and features for a cohesive overall park design.

GAI would then present to city commissioners a final design of the park after all of the input above is completed. It's undetermined how quickly the city could start Phase 1 redevelopment of the southern end of MLK Jr. Park.

Commercial real estate investment immediately surrounding MLK Jr. Park stands to gain from the city's long-term investment, particulary underdeveloped properties to the south and southwest. 

It's there at the intersection of W. Fairbanks Avenue and U.S. 17-92 (S. Orlando Avenue) that GAI has also produced a PD&E summary to make a more prominent gateway to Winter Park, with a welcoming monument sign, landscaping and wider pedestrian crosswalks. 

That beautification concept for the intersection has been incorporated in the latest mid-July report from the Florida Department of Transportation for potential future improvements to that stretch of U.S. 17-92.

A prominent 1.51-acre property at 1111 W. Fairbanks Ave., formerly the Bowl America site and just south of the park, could be sold by the city to one of six bidders with development concepts that include a mixed-use medical office and retail buildings.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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