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Dr. Phillip Phillips was a pioneer in the citrus industry, responsible for several key innovations in the processing and packaging of orange juice. He owned thousands of acres of groves, stretching across nine central Florida counties. Dr. Phillips eventually sold the bulk of his property to Minute Maid in the 1950s. The property he owned in southwest Orange County was sold to developers who built Bay Hill and other subdivisions. The area has experienced explosive growth in the last 30 years, due largely to the location of two key local industries: defense and tourism. Initially, it was the construction of defense giant Martin Marietta (currently Lockheed Martin) that had the greatest impact on Dr. Phillips, but that was only until the arrival in 1971 of Orlando’s most famous resident, Mickey Mouse. The impact of Walt Disney World on all of central Florida has been huge, but nowhere is it more recognizable than in southwest Orlando and the Dr. Phillips area. The Dr. Phillips area has been able to maintain its superb quality of life by timely upgrading of the infrastructure and controlling growth. Many people move to the Dr. Phillips area due to the reputation of the public schools alone. Located on the eastern shore of the Butler Chain of Lakes, many residents are active in boating and water sports. The Dr. Phillips area also boasts a great town center and numerous first-rate restaurants on Sand Lake Road. The area has just welcomed a 43 acre, state-of-the-art County Park, named after its namesake, Dr. P. Phillips.
Nestled among mighty oaks and peaceful lakes in West Orange County is the community town of Gotha. It was founded in 1885 by Henry Hempel and named after his hometown in Germany. Gotha has been protected as a rural settlement for decades and as a historical preservation district since 1995.
Along main street Hempel you can find Palm Cottage Gardens, which was home to Dr. Henry Nehrling, a property listed on the National Register of Historical Places; the Zion Lutheran Church, founded in 1915; the Yellow Dog Eats Café, housed in the historic Fishers Country Store; the Gotha Post Office; and a few unique offices. Also in Gotha is a community park for numerous outdoor activities and the Gotha Community Center that was originally a one-room schoolhouse.
On the Palm Cottage Gardens property is Dr. Nehrling’s 1880’s house, kitchen and experimental gardens. In 1885, Dr. Nehrling, a 31-year-old Wisconsin ornithologist, schoolteacher and naturalist, purchased 40 acres of land in the newly founded community of Gotha, Florida in Southwest Orange County. His dream was of a garden where he could grow tropical and sub-tropical plants year round. The garden ultimately became Florida’s first experimental botanical garden where Dr. Nehrling tested over 3000 new and rare plants for the U.S.D.A. Office of Foreign Plant Introduction. Of these, over 300 new and beneficial plants were introduced into Florida’s landscape including palms, cycads, caladiums, hybrid amaryllis, crinum lilies, bamboos, camellias, Indian hawthorn and hybrid magnolias. In the early 1900’s Dr. Nehlring’s Palm Cottage Gardens became a popular destination for thousands of tourists, nature lovers and new Florida settlers. Many prominent people of the era such as Theodore Roosevelt, John Burroughs, Liberty Hyde Bailey and Dr. David Fairchild, the famous botanical explorer, visited these early gardens. Due to surrounding development, the once forty-acre property has been reduced to six remaining acres. The property was recently purchased by the non-profit Henry Nehrling Society, Inc. in November 2009 for use as an education center/arboretum/botanical garden to teach historic preservation, horticultural education and environmental conservation and is now called Nehrling Gardens.
Ten minutes from downtown Orlando, the Town of Gotha’s large lot requirements, protective community association and highly desirable schools (All “A” Schools) have made this community a premier place to live.
Horizon West is a new community located in southwest Orange County designed using the principles of Garden Cities and New Urbanism to create self-sustaining, mixed-use villages. As the community continues to grow over the next few decades, this foundation ensures that new development will contribute to a sense of place, environmental preservation, excellent architectural design, quality bicycle and pedestrian facilities and vibrant community gathering places. Horizon West includes nearly 23,000 acres of former citrus groves until the devastating freezes of the 1980s, which created the impetus to institute appropriate master planning for the area’s urbanization over time. This process began in 1994, when property owners and area residents, with county support, created a detailed community vision for Horizon West. When completed, Horizon West will include 42,000 residential units, five residential villages and a town center to serve Horizon West’s villages with commercial office workplaces and higher density residential areas. Horizon West has won numerous state and regional awards for planning, including recognition from the State of Florida as a Sector Plan. Horizon West provides a meaningful alternative to the leapfrog development pattern of sprawl by creating self-sustaining villages that provide housing close to regional workplaces and community services.
Orange County is rural communities are important to the county is quality of life, lifestyle and history. To preserve these community assets, the County’s Rural Settlement designation establishes policies and corresponding land uses that retain these communities rural character. In West Orange County, the Lake Avalon community was designated a Rural Settlement by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners in May 2004. Based on a community planning process with Lake Avalon residents, the new Rural Settlement designation helps to provide a transition between and type of this development must be compatible with the rural development pattern and must comply with the Lake Avalon Rural Settlement Commercial Design Guidelines. With its history dating from the 1920s, the Lake Avalon community is a cornerstone of West Orange County.
The Lake Avalon Rural Settlement designation will help to ensure that this community ís legacy remains in place for the next several decades, while maintaining and enhancing the community’s quality of life for the residents of Lake Avalon. Lake Avalon’s rural development pattern and adjacent development in Horizon West. In the Lake Avalon Rural Settlement, residential properties have densities that vary from one residence per acre, one residence per two acres and one resident per five acres. Limited neighborhood, commercial and office uses are allowed in the rural settlement to support the community’s residents.
Surrounded by enormous moss-draped oak trees, the Town of Oakland is located on the southern shores of Lake Apopka. Incorporated in 1887, Oakland now has about 2,600 residents within its quiet, serene, country atmosphere. Due to rapid growth in and around Oakland, maintaining its image of “Nestled Among the Oaks” has been one of Oakland’s greatest accomplishments. Oakland is home to the West Orange Trailhead and the Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP). The Trailhead brings thousands of recreation seekers to the area annually, and the ONP provides them with the pristine beauty of Florida’s flora and fauna. In addition, the new Environmental Education Center (EEC) at ONP, opened in January 2009, provides the venue for nature classes and lectures. The EEC museum contains a library and displays of historical artifacts from the area.
Today, Oakland remains a quaint, unhurried rural community much like it was in 1887 when the town was incorporated. The oak tree-lined clay streets are nostalgic reminders of an era when life was peaceful and everyone knew all their neighbors. The town folks still meet and greet their neighbors every morning when they pick up their mail at the Oakland Post Office. A 700-student charter elementary school is Oakland’s most recent achievement, affording area residents with a choice in their child’s education. A day spent in Oakland will take you back in time to the old, quaint Florida towns of yesterday.
• The Industrial Park has two complete offices and two warehouses.
• The Town’s Oakland Avenue Charter-School has a capacity for 700 students.
• Oakland has received state designation as part of the Green Mountain Scenic Byway.
• The Town has initiated construction a Wastewater system, which will greatly enhance business opportunity along the SR 50 Corridor.
• The Oakland Avenue Charter School has a Wednesday Class at the Oakland Nature Preserve as part of their curriculum.
Historically, the City of Ocoee was established as a small agricultural town supported by the local citrus industry. The construction of several major roadways such as State Road 50 (SR 50) and the Florida Turnpike created a more accessible environment. Today, the old citrus groves have been transformed to single-family dwellings and help make up the city’s population of 40,000.
Ocoee is continuing on its path of new growth with the addition of 200 new single-family/townhomes and 500 multifamily units. The development of new subdivisions will bring an additional 500 single-family lots and 240 multi-family units. Spring Lake Reserve will include 79 lots on A.D. Mims Road, Ocoee Pines will include 281 lots on Clarcona Ocoee Road and McCormick Reserve will add an additional 133 lots on McCormick Road. New commercial construction is keeping pace with over 150,000 sq. ft. of new retail and medical uses under construction and will be online in 2015.
Ocoee is partnering with the City of Winter Garden to study and market the economic development potential of the SR 429 Corridor from approximately the Florida Turnpike on the South to Clarcona Ocoee Road on the North. To date, this collaboration has initiated a study to realize the competitive position of the area, key target industries as well as complimentary uses which may be attracted in support, and some of the site characteristics or needs necessary to attracting investment.
The education of our children remains an important focus in Ocoee. The city and Orange County Public Schools opened two reconstructed elementary schools and will work together on a new relief middle school. Recreational opportunities include baseball, basketball, soccer, Pop Warner football, programs for autistic children, before and after school care and swimming lessons.
With a renewed focus on the historic downtown, the city opened its new Ocoee Lakeshore Center. With scenic views of Starke Lake, the new events center is like no other center in West Orange County. It has banquet seating for more than 200 people, a modern catering kitchen, and a highly specialized audio-visual system. The historic Withers-Maguire House was renovated to provide additional wedding and meeting space. The city is conducting a planning study designed to provide for a viable downtown. Central sewer will be available by 2016.
The city’s past culture is observed in the beautiful parks, brick roads and historic buildings. This past intertwined with the growth and expansion of businesses make Ocoee the “Center of Good Living.”
“Pine Hills is a community of neighborhoods and families, comprised of a rich diversity of origins and occupations. With more than 60,000 people and some 30,000 households, it claims the highest resident ownership in Orange County. Although one of Orange County’s oldest and well-established communities, Pine Hills possesses an abundance of quality, ranch-style houses, many of which are located on oversized lots suited to growing families. Pine Hills’ new Maynard Evans Community High School, Florida’s only community school, offers students a broad array of opportunities for academic achievement and personal growth, providing on-campus health services and performing arts opportunities, plus a parent resource and family support center. The sprawling contemporary campus is unlike any other school with its comprehensive approach and is already setting records for outstanding performance. The community is well-positioned to benefit from new infrastructure development, beautification projects and safety improvements, with the civic involvement of its residents and business leaders. The Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement District (NID), created in 2011, is leading the way toward increased investment in the business sector and creation of a town center. Recently built recreational venues include world class gyms and parks, in addition to a new hiking and biking trial under development, while the arts and entertainment are also well-represented in the schools and the new Pine Hills Community Performing Arts Center. With excellent mass transit and transportation corridors providing convenient access to theme parks and area employers, Pine Hills is becoming the “Village of Choice” for newcomers and the new generations alike with its attractive, affordable housing. “Pine Hills is on the Rise” is a slogan that has become a reality. You can find more about Pine Hills at www.ocfl.net/pinehills.
For luxury living at its best, look no further than the town of Windermere. Pristine sand-bottom lakes surround this small West Orange community. The largest lake, Lake Butler, is located on the west, Lake Down on the east and Lake Bessie on the southeast side of town. The boating, fishing and water enthusiast will revel in the system of canals that connects eleven lakes that range from 25 acres to 1614 acres known as the Butler Chain of Lakes. This chain of lakes was designated by the Florida legislature as “Outstanding Florida Waters” which makes waterfront living in Windermere so special.
Windermere was bestowed its name from Dr. Stanley Scott, whose father purchased 160 acres in this picturesque location in 1885. Dr. Scott built his home on the shore of Lake Butler, and it is believed by many that he named this town after England’s famous Lake Windermere.
Windermere was mainly a resort area in the early 1900s. Many visitors built winter cabins to enjoy the local fishing. The 1920 census recorded the population of Windermere at 182. In 1925, the town was incorporated, thereby restricting its boundaries, and the census decreased to 153. Windermere also played a part in history during World War I. The ladies of the town would meet regularly during the war to make surgical dressings. This resulted in the formation of the Windermere Women’s Club. In 1927, their clubhouse was moved to its present location in the center of town and is now the historic Town Hall and is listed on the National Historic Registry. Today, Windermere is a quaint architectural mixture ranging from small homes to estate homes with sand roads to preserve the small town charm, the chain of lakes and its history. Today, more than 2,800 people inhabit the town of Windermere. The community, however, has not based its success on how rapidly it grows, but on how natural and pleasant a community it is to reside. Windermere tries to focus on preserving the town’s nature and strong community atmosphere. The town’s quality of life is its most distinguishing feature with seven public parks, three public piers, a public swimming area, boat ramps, tennis courts, basketball courts and a library. Windermere has been named “Tree City USA” for its commitment to a natural environment for 20 consecutive years. For luxury living in a small-town atmosphere, look no further than the Town of Windermere, where there is “Luxury Living with Small- Town Charm.”
The Windermere downtown district has become an area where families gather for breakfasts and lunches during the day, ice cream in the afternoon and evenings and the periodic events on Main Street that draw thousands. The Annual Car Show, Easter Eggstravaganza, and Halloween Spooktacular are just a few of the annual events that residents enjoy.
Nestled on beautiful Lake Apopka about 20 minutes west of Orlando, this former citrus town is home to almost 40,000 residents and embodies a wealth of historical and natural assets. The Historic Downtown, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, is a favorite destination for West Orange residents and those traveling the award-winning West Orange Trail which will soon be part of the 250 mile Coast to Coast (C2C) Trail.
Winter Garden’s proximity to Orlando and the theme parks has made it an ideal spot for growth. Winter Garden has grown into the commercial and cultural capital of West Orange County with regional amenities such as the Garden Theatre, several Museums, a new Art Center and the Downtown Pavilion, which is home to the Winter Garden Farmers Market. Winter Garden has one of the top regional Farmers Markets in Central Florida.
Winter Garden has become a desirable place to live and a local gathering place for residents within Central Florida. It is a town that exudes warmth and energy, with a relaxed charm that makes everyone feel comfortable. It is a place for growing families and businesses. It is a forward thinking community that embraces new ideas and people. The City is a greenhouse for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The City offers a diversity of housing options with a healthy mix of old and new, great schools, one of the lowest millage rates in Orange County, while enjoying a superior quality of life. Winter Garden has a thriving business community comprised mostly of small businesses, a historic downtown, one of Central Florida’s premiere shopping centers, Winter Garden Village at Fowlers Grove. Winter Garden is known for its many recreational amenities, historical assets and events that make it a great place to live and visit.
Good things are happening throughout Winter Garden. Florida Hospital has begun construction on Phase I of their health campus consisting of 75,000 square feet of medical office space. A new parking garage is planned for Downtown Winter Garden. Master planning is about to begin for key interchanges along SR 429. Many residential projects have broken ground with new homes under construction. Several roadway and beautification projects are ongoing and park development of Tucker Ranch has finally begun. Tucker Ranch will be developed into a regional park with trails, canoes, camping and a working farm. Dillard Street conceptual design is currently under review. The City of Winter Garden continues to grow and thrive rivaling the best small cities in Florida.