The Orlando Utilities Commission has decided to part ways with the nearly century-old Ivanhoe building that served as the city’s first power plant and later as a performing arts center.
OUC spokesman Tim Trudell said the utility will be publishing a request for proposals Friday seeking a commercial real estate brokerage to market the building, which received local historic landmark designation in 1987 but has been vacant for the last eight years.
“Orange Avenue is a gateway to downtown, and there’s a lot going on over there,” Trudell said. “So if we can help our community here and help our ratepayers, I think that’s essentially what we’re looking to do. We need to explore our options, and this is the first step in doing so.”
Located at 1111 N. Orange Ave., it was first developed in 1897 by Orlando Light and Water Company founder John Cheney. He used Lake Ivanhoe as a reservoir.
The city purchased the utility and established the Orland Utilities Commission in 1922 and a year later built the 55,560-square-foot Italian Palazzo Revival style plant. The two-story rectangular building is divided into three bays with a hip roof covered in red ceramic tile. Arched and flat-topped windows are the dominant features on the façades.
The building operated as a power plant until 1958, then the utility renovated it in the 1980s. In 1992, after OUC moved to another building, it was converted to an arts center following a $5.2 million renovation to create the temporary home for The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, including designated spaces for ballet and opera.
“We had to move everybody out in 2013,” Trudell. “We had a mold, because the water table is very low there. Out of an abundance of caution, we asked our tenants to vacate the building. We’ve done remediation on the building since then.”
The Orange County Property Appraiser’s office estimates the value of the property at $5.88 million ($3.26 million for the land and $2.5 million for the building.) Other factors could affect the true market value.
The historic landmark designation creates additional layers of regulation on the property. Any changes to the building or the site would need approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Board.
Trudell said OUC is currently remediating some contamination on the adjacent property from the old power plant, so there’s a chance some additional remediation may be needed on the Ivanhoe building site.
OUC is building a massive new electric substation — the length of two football fields — right across the train tracks from the Ivanhoe building. The substation will take up 3.5 acres and will be screened by an 18-foot wall.
Trudell said the commission will rely on the broker’s expertise to help determine the appropriate list price for the building. Responses will be due July 19, and OUC hopes to make a selection on July 26. The hope is to use the proceeds of the sale to invest in some new clean energy projects.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth in the Ivanhoe Village area,” he said. “We’re not sure what the developer may come back and do or suggest, but certainly the building offers a large amount of opportunities for creative repurposing. I think there’s a lot of potential in there.”
OUC is seeking RFP respondents serving as licensed commercial real estate brokers in Central Florida and who have experience with Orlando commercial market valuations, brownfield development, adapative re-use of older facilities, and representing municipal government clients. The RFP will be available at https://ouc.com/doing-business-with-ouc/strategic-sourcing on June 18.