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Cuhaci & Peterson co-founder Lonnie Peterson dies at age 70

Lonnie Peterson is credited in growing the architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Orlando, which started off as a one-man operation in 1978.
Lonnie Peterson is credited in growing the architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Orlando, which started off as a one-man operation in 1978. (Cuhaci & Peterson)

Employees and business associates with Orlando-based architecture and design firm Cuhaci & Peterson are mourning the sudden death of its co-founder, Lonnie Peterson.

The accomplished architect and business owner recently passed away at the age of 70, for reasons unclear at this time. Attempts to reach out to the family were unsuccessful.

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His architecture and design firm, Cuhaci & Peterson, founded in 1978, is headquartered in Orlando. Peterson retired in 2016.

In a public statement, company CEO Greg Simpson said Peterson helped grow the business from a one-man operation into a recognized architecture and engineering firm. Today, the company has over 200 employees with four other office locations throughout the nation, including Philadelphia and Boston.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sudden passing of our firm’s co-founder, Lonnie Peterson. Although he retired from Cuhaci & Peterson in 2016, the sound of Lonnie’s signature laugh could be heard long after his office was empty,” Simpson said. “If you ever met him, the impression he made was a lasting one.”

Cuhaci & Peterson designed the 65,145-square-foot Mills Park retail center in Orlando’s Mills 50 district. The mixed-use project was developed by a joint venture between Forge Capital Partners and DeBartolo Development around 2012, on the former Mills & Nebraska lumber yard.

Today, the mixed-use development also features the 310-unit Gallery at Mills Park apartment community, and continues to grow.

The architecture firm, has also worked with Orlando-based Intram Investments on its Posner Village retail center on U.S. 27 in Davenport, Polk County, as well as hospitality firm AD1 Global.

“Mr. Lonnie Peterson and the Cuhaci & Peterson staff are all true professionals with whom we enjoyed working with on several projects throughout the years. He will be missed. We wish to extend our condolences to his family during this time.,” AD1 spokesperson Jon McMillian told GrowthSpotter.

Cuhaci & Peterson designed conceptual plans for a trio of hotels in the Four Corners area of Orange County, currently being developed by AD1.
Cuhaci & Peterson designed conceptual plans for a trio of hotels in the Four Corners area of Orange County, currently being developed by AD1. (AD1 Global)

The company is aiming to open a longtime planned, dual-branded Marriott hotel, designed by Cuhaci & Peterson in Orlando’s tourism corridor, next month, he said. The architecture team also designed conceptual plans for a trio of hotels in the Four Corners area of Orange County, also too being developed by AD1.

Likewise, the firm has designed renderings for a proposed office building in Winter Park being developed by Maitland-based real estate firm V3 Capital Group.

Other notable projects include the renovation work done at The Florida Mall, which began summer of 2016. Cuhaci & Peterson partnered with Simon Property Group to renovate all major interior concourses and create a dining pavilion from a former retail space at the luxury mall.

One of the largest deals the company has made was with the American convenience store and gas station chain Wawa Inc.

Get ready for new office space (maybe) in Winter Park. Learn more about the latest office building to be proposed in the city.

In 2011, the partners teamed up to debut a new design for Wawa’s convenience stores, on International Drive and Central Florida Parkway. Later on, in 2013, Cuhaci & Peterson bought Pennsylvania-based architecture firm, LMA Architects LLC, in an effort to increase its work with the retail chain. Since then, the business partners have open more than 200 Wawa locations across Florida.

On a LinkedIn post announcing Peterson’s passing, John Poplawski, senior director of site acquisition and development at Wawa Inc., remarked: “Such sad news. Lonnie was a true gentleman, leader and legend in our industry.”

According to the Cuhaci & Peterson website, Peterson was often caught saying: “Finding the right people makes all the difference in the world.”

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He was heavily involved with the International Council of Shopping Centers and served and participated on numerous committee chairs and panel discussions.

In 2016, he helped create the Lonnie G. Peterson Scholarship in Architecture Foundation, which was formed through collaborative efforts between Cuhaci & Peterson and ICSC.

Cuhaci & Peterson designed a new dining pavilion at The Florida Mall in 2016.
Cuhaci & Peterson designed a new dining pavilion at The Florida Mall in 2016. (Cuhaci & Peterson)

“As someone who has known Lonnie for a while, I know this gesture will touch his heart; additionally it will make a huge impact on the future career of many young students, excited about this industry that we all share,” president emeritus of Cuhaci & Peterson, James Downs, said at the time.

The fundraiser raised more than $58,700 at its launch in 2016.

For the following 11 years, a $5,000 scholarship will be given annually to a student in their final semester at University of Florida’s CityLab-Orlando program at the Graduate School of Architecture, which offers the Master of Architecture and Master of Science in Architectural Studies degrees.

When the first scholarship was awarded in 2017, Peterson commented: “It is such a great honor that Jed, C&P and ICSC have put us all in a position to give back... This is not a huge scholarship, but hopefully it helps someone get off to a great start on a rewarding career.”

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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