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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 enormous, 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. Outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy the 43 acre, state-of-the-art County Park, named after its namesake, Dr. P. Phillips. The Dr. Phillips area also boasts an enviable town center and numerous first-rate restaurants on Sand Lake Road.
Nestled among mighty oaks and peaceful lakes in West Orange County is the community Town of Gotha. It was founded in 1885 by H.A. Hempel and named after his hometown in Germany. Gotha has been protected as a rural settlement for over a decade 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. These historic buildings set the tone for the unique character of Gotha.
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 unique community located in southwest Orange County and is designed using the principles of Garden Cities and New Urbanism to create self-sustaining, mixed-use villages. As this area continues to grow over the next few decades, this foundation will ensure that new development contribute to a sense of place, environmental preservation, excellent architectural design, quality bicycle and pedestrian facilities and vibrant community gathering places.
Horizon West encompasses nearly 23,000 acres of former citrus groves. The devastating freezes of the 1980s were the impetus to institute appropriate master planning for the area’s urbanization over time.
This planning process began in 1994, when property owners and area residents, with County support, created a detailed community vision for Horizon West. A vision which centers each village around an elementary school, thereby creating a community focus to each village. When completed, Horizon West will include approximately 42,000 residential units within five residential villages and a town center to serve Horizon West’s villages as a downtown core 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; the first Sector Plan to be approved in the State. 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’s rural communities are important to the county’s quality of life, history, and lifestyle. 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. The Lake Avalon Rural Settlement designation will help to ensure that this community’s legacy remains in place while maintaining and enhancing the community’s quality of life for the residents of Lake Avalon.
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. These densities support Orange County’s goals of providing for housing diversity. With its history dating from the 1920s, the Lake Avalon community is a cornerstone of West Orange County.
Quality of life and community pride have always been and continue to be priorities in MetroWest. Developed in 1985, MetroWest is one of Orlando’s first master-planned communities, featuring award-winning landscaping, MetroWest Golf Club, top-rated public schools, Valencia College with a UCF satellite campus, and convenient access to both I-4 and SR 408 from the west side of Orlando. A Florida Community of Excellence winner, MetroWest offers first-class living options for families and individuals alike.
MetroWest uniquely provides a community lifestyle with outdoor recreation options and neighborhood businesses, both small and large. Located just minutes from Orlando’s downtown business district and the tourism corridor, the community offers opportunities for retail and commercial business growth. Prominent MetroWest businesses include Valencia College administrative offices, as well as the offices of U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings, Florida State Representative Kamia Brown, and Florida State Senator Randolph Bracy. MetroWest business owners and leaders are inspired by and are enthusiastic about the community’s continued growth.
MetroWest also annually hosts two signature special events: WinterFest and the exciting MusicWORKS Fourth of July celebration. To stay abreast of all MetroWest happenings, look for the quarterly MetroWest Lifestyle magazine. Come see how we live, work, play and connect in MetroWest!
Surrounded by enormous moss-draped oak trees, the Town of Oakland is located on the southern shores of Lake Apopka. Incorporated in 1887, Oakland’s 3,365 residents live within its quiet, serene, country atmosphere. Due to growth in and around Oakland, maintaining its image of “Nestled Among the Oaks” has been one of Oakland’s greatest accomplishments. Oakland is located on the West Orange Trail (soon to be the Coast to Coast Trail) with over 25,000 visitors per month and is home to the West Orange Trailhead and the Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP). The ONP preserves and restores the pristine beauty of Florida’s flora and fauna. The Jim Thomas Environmental Education Center at ONP provides the venue for nature classes and lectures and 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 their neighbors. The town folks still meet and greet each other every morning when they pick up their mail at the Oakland Post Office.
A day spent in Oakland will take you back in time to the old, quaint Florida towns of yesterday.
Ideally situated at the heart of all of Central Florida’s major highways and expressways, Ocoee is home to a vibrant residential and business community making it an ideal place to live, raise a family and grow a business. Just a short distance from metropolitan Orlando and Walt Disney World, Ocoee offers a family-oriented, hometown atmosphere, countless recreational, employment and educational opportunities.
Known for its exceptional quality of life, Ocoee is home to boat launches, fishing docks, nature trails, picnic areas, sports facilities and playgrounds. Beautiful Starke Lake has the distinction of being one of the “Fab Five” lakes in the greater Orlando area. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation recognized Starke Lake as one of five water bodies managed for quality-size fish. Whether it’s fishing, taking a dip in the pool at the Family Aquatic Center or enjoying a relaxing round of golf at the championship Forest Lake course, there’s something for everyone in Ocoee.
With a population over 48,000, and a renewed focus on the historic downtown, Ocoee is buzzing with optimism. The City is in the midst of a $44 million capital projects program to enhance public spaces and key infrastructure in Downtown Ocoee. The City’s 18 capital projects are underway and will create or expand public spaces along the western shore of beautiful Starke Lake. The projects will provide infrastructure to the downtown area, including a stormwater facility that will serve several blocks that are critical to the revitalization of Downtown Ocoee. Located at the City’s Municipal Campus, the expansion of the Lakeshore Center, West Orange County’s premier event destination, is complete offering the community a state-of-the-art Center that has space for a 400-seat event. Bill Breeze Park and the Withers-Maguire House grounds have been upgraded with new landscaping and outdoor event spaces.
The City is seeing continued uptick in residential development which includes detached single-family, townhomes, multi-family, and senior housing. The City will see 680 residential rooftops completed in the next year along with 242 senior living units. An additional 850 residential units has been approved and is in final engineering design along with 350 multi-family units.
The Ocoee Business Park, nestled between Maguire Road and SR 429, is nearing completion of over 685,000 SF of Light Industrial/Flex Office space. The buildings provide between 30-36 feet of clear height warehousing space. The total cost of construction for the four buildings is over $20.5 million. The property is strategically located with easy access to SR 429 and the surrounding highways.
The Ocoee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is actively funding several projects to beautify the Fifty West Redevelopment District (SR 429 to Clark Road, north to Story Road, and south to the Turnpike). Building off of last year’s beautification projects, the CRA is continuing its efforts to improve the aesthetics of primary corridors including Old Winter Garden Road, Blackwood Avenue, Clarke Road, and SR 50. In 2020, the newly reconstructed SR 50 will get nearly $1 million in landscaping installed in the medians. Plans are also underway on a new wellness park that will feature a walking loop and outside fitness stations. The Fifty West Redevelopment District has also seen the opening of new facilities such as the $37 million, 91,000 square-foot Rehabilitation Center at Health Central and new eating establishments and medical offices in the vicinity of the SR 50 and Maguire Road intersection.
City Center West Orange is a ‘centerpiece’ of the City’s and CRA’s revitalization plans. Located along Bluford Avenue and the new “Maine Street”, City Center West Orange (CCWO) is ramping up construction. CCWO’s first phase will feature a 122-room hotel, more than 172,000 square feet of shopping, restaurant, retail space and 480 condo units along the shore of Lake Bennet.
With input from its citizens, the City of Ocoee has charted a course toward a more livable community destined for greater economic prosperity. While maintaining a high standard of living and quality of life, Ocoee is forging ahead with new growth and limitless opportunities for its residents and business.
Orlo Vista means “View of Orlando” in Spanish, and indeed it neighbors some of the most active areas of Orlando. The Orlo Vista community is defined by Orange County as being south of State Road 408 with western bounds at Hiawassee Road, eastern bounds at Pine Hills Road to Old Winter Garden Road to Ring Road and southern bounds at the City of Orlando boundaries and Carter Street.
Though a modest neighborhood, Orlo Vista has a long history of which the residents are very proud. Orlando’s first settler and the County’s first state representative, Aaron Jernigan, was interred at the Lake Hill Cemetery in Orlo Vista in 1891. In the early 1900s, there were approximately 300 inhabitants of Orlo Vista, including grove workers, winter visitors and native Floridians. In 1927, Orlo Vista was incorporated as a city. The city was abolished by a vote of residents in May 1929 as a result of the Great Depression and has been a part of Unincorporated Orange County ever since.
Orlo Vistans have always worked closely together to help their community flourish. Recently, a group of residents formed the Orlo Vista United Safe Neighborhood, an organization focused on enhancing the safety and beauty of Orlo Vista. Residents have great pride that one of Orange County’s first volunteer fire stations opened in the heart of Orlo Vista in 1953. The fire station, along with the Orlo Vista Park, the Orlo Vista Community Center and Chamber of Commerce, the Orlo Vista Elementary School, and the newly-built Oak Hill Elementary School, anchor the community and have shaped its culture.
Today, over 6,000 residents are proud to call Orlo Vista home. Its mid-century neighborhoods surrounding Lake Orlo are filled with old oaks and hard-working individuals and families. As Orange County has grown Orlo Vista has become more dynamic and culturally diverse, but the community has not outgrown the neighborly values of its past.
Pine Hills is a community of many cultures and one bright future. Founded in 1952 by developer Gordon Barnett, Pine Hills was originally constructed to serve the working families of Martin Marietta’s defense facility and is one of Orlando’s first suburbs. During those early years, the community prospered as an upper middle-class suburb. Over the years, Pine Hills developed a rich heritage that continues to grow with each passing year. We are a uniquely diverse population representing people from all walks of life. Today, we are a true multi-cultural community that embraces all religions, ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures. Our citizens enjoy a life that is defined by family, faith, pride and resiliency.
We are a community of neighborhoods and families. There are more than 60,000 people and some 30,000 households in Pine Hills. Pine Hills has the highest percentage of owner-occupied residences in Orange County. Pine Hills possesses an abundance of quality, ranch-style homes, many of which are located on oversized lots suited for growing families.
Although we face many challenges, we strive to make a better life for each new generation that calls Pine Hills home. We nurture our youth so they can thrive and succeed in a global economy and a diverse world. This can be seen in the halls of Maynard Evans High School, where Trojan Pride has become the heart and soul of our community and the anchor of our neighborhoods. Evans High School is Florida’s only community school. It offers students, their families and residents a broad array of opportunities for academic achievement and personal growth. It provides on-campus extended learning opportunities, health services and a parent resource/family support center that are design to provide comprehensive approach to developing healthy minds and bodies. Our students are already setting records for outstanding performance. In 2017, Evans won the prestigious Mutual of America Community Partnership Award in recognition of its outstanding success is forging community relationships in order to serve its students, beating out dozens of other organizations nationwide. As part of the prize, Mutual of America produced a documentary on the school and its success.
Finally, the Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement District (PHNID) is leading redevelopment efforts and investment in the local economy. The PHNID seeks to revitalize the core of Pine Hills by creating a Town Center at the intersection of Pine Hills Road and Silver Star Road. We will see many positive changes in Pine Hills. The PHNID launched a successful anti-litter campaign encouraging residents to “Spruce up Pine Hills!” The campaign included billboards, community clean ups and dissemination of educational materials.
A recently completed bicycle and pedestrian safety study of the area will result in several safety improvements along Pine Hills Road, as well as installation of a neighborhood gateway featuring landscaping, lighting and signage at Pine Hills and Silver Star Road. In the coming years, Pine Hills will be well-positioned to benefit from new investment opportunities with the continued support and involvement of its residents and business leaders.
We are strong. We are family. We are Pine Hills!
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.
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. However, with almost 3000 residents, Windermere has not based its success on how rapidly it grows, but on how natural and pleasant a community it is in which to reside. Windermere tries to focus on preserving the town’s nature and a strong community atmosphere. The town’s quality of life is its most distinguishing feature with ten public parks (including a large recreation center), three public piers, boat ramps, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a library. Windermere has been named “Tree City USA” for its commitment to a natural environment for over 20 consecutive years.
The town’s $2.5 million downtown improvements of roundabouts, town greens, bricked streets, extensive landscaping, pedestrian sidewalks, mature tree canopy, and underground utilities provide the ambiance, streetscape, and a quaint downtown area not only for its residents but the immediate surrounding area. 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 monthly Food Truck Nights, along with the annual Arbor Day/Treebute Celebration, St. Patrick’s Day Event, Pet Fest, 5K/10K Run Among the Lakes, Easter Egg-Stravaganza, Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast, Craft Beer Fest, Halloween Hayride and Costume Parade, and Light Up Windermere are some of the most notable annual events that residents enjoy.
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.”
Winter Garden is the commercial and cultural capital of West Orange County while maintaining its quaint charm and small-town feel. It continues to be recognized nationally as a desirable place to live and grow a business. In fact, is was named in the top 10 of the “Best Places to Live in America” by Money magazine in 2019.
Nestled on beautiful Lake Apopka about 20 minutes west of Orlando, this former citrus town is home to nearly 45,000 residents and embodies a wealth of historical and natural assets. Winter Garden’s proximity to Orlando and the theme parks makes it a convenient, central location to live and work. The City offers varied housing options with a healthy mix of old and new, great schools, and one of the lowest millage rates in Orange County while enjoying a superior quality of life. Winter Garden has been recognized as a “Best Place to Raise a Family in Florida” by SmartAsset, and declared as one of the “Best Cities for Young Families in Florida” by NerdWallet. In addition, Winter Garden is the American Planning Association’s People’s Choice “Great Places in Florida” winner.
Winter Garden has a thriving business community comprised of small businesses and a premier shopping district with over one million square feet known as the Winter Garden Village at Fowlers Grove. With more than 2,000 businesses, Winter Garden is a greenhouse for entrepreneurs and small businesses. In fact, WalletHub named Winter Garden as one of the top three best small cities in Central Florida for launching a business.
Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, Downtown Winter Garden is a slice of Old Florida as it maintains its hometown charm. Breathtaking picturesque, downtown is embellished with colorful flowers and landscaping, brick-lined streets, and a streetscape that tells a story about the community’s history and character. The 22-mile award-winning West Orange Trail, which will soon be part of the 250-mile Coast to Coast (C2C) Connector Trail, runs right through the center of downtown. In the heart of downtown is also its iconic Clock Tower and Water Tower, as well as its Centennial Plaza that is considered the City’s “outdoor living room” with a mosaic-tiled public fountain lined with bench swings, and a gazebo that serves as a stage for year-round entertainment. A number of complimentary amenities can be found within downtown including a splash park, historical museums, an art gallery, and a linear park and oversized Downtown Pavilion that is home to the award-winning weekly Winter Garden Farmers Market. The historically-preserved Garden Theatre, as well as the Plant Street Market, an indoor food hall and market anchored by a craft brewery, rounds out the downtown entertainment options. Downtown Winter Garden exudes energy, yet maintains a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere that makes it a favorite place for people of all ages.
A number of recreational amenities can be found throughout Winter Garden including parks that preserve Florida’s natural habitat, as well as public pools, athletic complexes, a splash park, rental halls and pavilions. Its newest park, Tucker Ranch Recreational Park and Nature Preserve, which opened in 2018, features boardwalks and trails winding through old-Florida wooded environments, picturesque Oak canopies, a playground, pavilion, picnic tables, and a host of recreation opportunities still to come.
The City continues to add to its offerings including a 60-room boutique hotel opening in downtown within a year; and a revitalization to downtown’s gateway, Dillard Street, which will include a new streetscape and the addition of bike paths. Winter Garden’s unique combination of small-town appeal coupled with contemporary amenities makes it an ideal location to call home.