Raymond Cox, president OPT
Coming off a successful 2016 project campaign, submitting the successful application for local City of Orlando landmark designation of the Marsh house, aka Eola House in Lake Eola Park, OPT was searching for a project for 2017. From informal conversations with members of the Orlando City Council OPT directed its attention to the west side of Orlando where preservation has had some difficulty. It was learned that OCPS was closing the City of Orlando landmarked Grand Avenue School mid June of 2017. Through conversation and investigation, OPT decided to focus on the landmarked Grand Avenue School. Two of our board members toured the school with the principal and both were amazed how well the facility was maintained and impressed how proud the staff was of the historic facility.
Deeper correspondence with the OCPS administration was pursued inquiring on the future of the historic facility. Correspondence from me to School Board Chairman Sublette was cc’d to Orlando City Council and planning staff with the purpose to provide a heads-up of any possible city planning and zoning conflict should demolition be attempted. E-mails between OPT board members and OCPS board members, legal staff and board chair provided no definitive answer and nothing could be ascertained other than it will no longer be used for educational purposes.
If you have been following our Facebook page or been reading the Orlando Sentinel, there have been 2 investigative articles by staff reporter Jeff Weiner trying to get more information from both the OCPS and City of Orlando. (see attached hotlinks to these articles).
There appears to be support from Orlando City Commissioner Ings on adaptive re-use of the facility as well as recent past opposition from the State Department of Historic Resources for demolition. OPT has no opinion on the future use of the property other than to maintain the historic structure, irrespective of public or private ownership, while allowing any non-historic structures on the property to be demolished.
As I have said, 22 years ago the citizens of Orlando through due process of the City of Orlando’s Planning and Zoning policy decided along with the City of Orlando and the OCPS that Grand Avenue School is an important part of the community’s historic cultural fabric and it is our responsibility as stewards of this community to respect and protect these cultural assets.
Please watch on our web site and Facebook page as well as follow in the local media for any further developments. Stay informed and stay involved.
FB: Orange Preservation Trust Optrust15@gmail.com