Welcome back to Orlando Opinions. I’m Mark Baratelli. I’ve got a passion for Orlando and a bod for sin.. Let’s get started!
Back in May we introduced you to The Hourglass District, a mass of older buildings purchased by National Real Estate for the purpose of turning them all into shops and restaurants, really turning a dead corner into a hot spot where people want to be so the developer can build buildings around it and rent them out. Back then the developers told The Daily City that one of the old structures, a dead 3/4 acre car wash structure at 416 Curry Ford Road, would be transformed into a farmers market with gathering spaces and a lounging area.
Those plans have changed according to a rendering we found credited to Interstruct. In that rendering, the dead car wash structure is shown as a food truck park! In the rendering one can see the trucks parked underneath the car wash roof, Adirondack chairs, wooden planters acting as space dividers, lighting, greenery wall, patio covering and what looks like an orange sculpture. You can check out the rending on thedailycity.com.
A 1925 building across the street from the soccer stadium 617 W. Central Ave got approved by the City for a major overhaul of its facade including giant wood and metal walls covering the front of the building, indoor and outdoor bars, a bocce court and ornamental fencing. The name was to be… Tubbs Brewing. This was in 2016. Sine then, no work has been done to execute that facade overhaul. They did however get permits to turn an empty corner space into a food truck and lot beer handout on game days. So there was that.
Now the owners have returned to the City with a new facade plan, this one being MUCH LESS ambitious. Essentially, they’re proposing to preserve the original design of the 90-year old façade, open the previously boarded up window areas, and add a new contemporary storefront design and glazing. The name is to be… Big Squeeze.
Maudlin trucking company is turning the Merita Bread Company building into a 77,600 sq. ft. truck dealership and service center. They’re placing a new 54-ft sign facing I-4 so they can enjoy the same advertising-to-I4 benefit that the Merita sign enjoyed. Since the new I-4 will be signifigantly higher when completed, they need this taller sign. The appearance review board says ok. Now it has to go to City Council. Reember the neon charm of the older Merita bread sign? This new sign will be nothing like it. It’ll be two empty cubes stacked on top of eachother with their brand name (sans serif people, SANS SERIF) on the top. It’s got the charm of an office park cafeteria 6 months before it closes.
The artwork of famed street artist Shepard Fairey/Obey Giant has begun to pop up around Orlando on billboards owned by Outfront Media. Fairey is best known for his Obama “Hope” poster. There are 5 billboards so far. Each signs’ design and message are completely based on prior works by Fairey including a globe installation inside the Eiffel Tower, an 8-story musal in England and an art show that recently closed in Los Angeles. We called for a press release but they didn’t have one prepared yet. Losers.
And finally, The squealy-boxed Orange County Bar Association turning off their squealy boxes is not the only positive change coming to the North Quarter. Church Street Entertainment, owner of Ember, Latitudes, Cahoots, Chillers, Irish Shannon’s, 180 Skytop Lounge and Crafted, is bringing their brand of FUN to the district. They’re turning the North Quarter Tavern into a “neighborhood focused local pub” and Bar Room into a “modern interpretation of a classic cocktail lounge.”
The two spaces are owned by Craig Ustler, who developed the two original concepts. Ustler has announced he is hanging up his restaurant developing pumps after 17 years to focus on developing Creative Village and Florida Hospital Health Village. Who’s gonna hire the waiters Mister Downtown???? This will be his second and third restaurant handover with the first being handing over the Citrus Restaurant space to Reyes Mezcaleria.
North Quarter is a sleepy suburb made up of over a thousand apartments. The retail is nil, the restaurants are few, and most buildings don’t even feature ground floor retail. These folks bringing a potential shot girls, hot bod contests, three-for-one tequila nights vibe may be just the thing to get North Quarter residents out of their suburb and into the street to get so drunk they can’t push the buttons on their elevator to get back home.