An interesting article, curiously published in Mount Dora Buzz!
It’s unlike any other city in Florida. Downtown Winter Garden has the authentic vibe of small-town America, yet has integrated trendy dining and shopping options with family-friendly local attractions like the West Orange Trail and its impressive farmers market.
Winter Garden’s seemingly meteoric rise from blight to bustle has been anything but. Its masterful transformation was two decades in the making and required a gutsy vision and dogged commitment that other cities would find difficult to broach, let alone maintain. While other city governments floundered to find direction, Winter Garden officials stepped up with progressive planning, and its elected officials consistently supported the vision resulting in the vibrant Winter Garden of today.
- In 1992, Winter Garden established a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to gain the tools needed to foster and support the redevelopment of the Downtown Historic District. The goal of the CRA is to promote sustainable economic growth and improve the commercial viability and residential livability of neighborhoods within the area through projects like streetscaping, parks, parking, infrastructure improvements, street trees and landscaping.
- 1997-1998 – The West Orange Trail was built through downtown Winter Garden which connected it to other communities and made it a popular destination.
Downtown Winter Garden has been preserved, in large part, due to its high architectural design standards and attention to details. In some cities, high standards result in project delays and frustrated developers. Not so in Winter Garden. Rather than simply deny a good project or place the burden solely on the developer, the City has provided designers to collaborate with developers in order to meet Winter Garden’s lofty requirements while preventing unnecessary delays. The result is a win-win for the City and the developer.
- The West Orange Trail runs through the center of downtown WinterGarden and has made it a cycling destination that draws an estimated 100,000 visitors a month.
- The award-winning Farmers Market draws 6,000 people every Saturday and serves as a business incubator. It has become a top reason why people decide to move to the City.
- The Garden Theater opened in 2008. The 9818 square feet venue has 299 seats, is programmed 365 days a year and draws 60,000 visitors a year.