Orlando is once again going through a period of growth, with Ivanhoe at the heart of it, but that growth need not be painful.
Major changes are coming to Ivanhoe Village with the proposed development along Alden Road, dubbed The Yard at Ivanhoe, beginning next fall.
Currently occupied by a warehouse district which is home to artists, art venues and creative industries, the property south of Lake Formosa Drive between Alden Road and Philadelphia Avenue was recently purchased by Orlando-based Real Estate Inverlad Development LLC with the intention of building a mixed-use development on the site.
The tentative design includes a multi-story residential building, a community retail center facing Virginia Drive, space for artists to work, and options for dining and entertainment, all with an urban industrial feel that will fit in with the artsy character of the neighborhood.
If all goes according to schedule, construction will begin in November 2015.
“I grew up in College Park and I spend a lot of time in Ivanhoe Village. It’s such a cool neighborhood and the last thing I want to do is ruin it,” said Chance Gordy, vice president of Real Estate Inverlad.
No formal plans have been submitted to the City of Orlando yet because Gordy is making efforts to reach out to the community to include its input before anything is finalized.
As a longtime Orlando resident and fifth-generation Central Floridian, it is important to Gordy to get this right.
“I take a lot of pride in doing projects in my own community and I want this to be something the city can be proud of,” he said.
Gordy met with the Lake Formosa Neighborhood Association and local businesses on October 21 to introduce himself and the project and to open the door to dialogue about the coming development.
Gordon Spears, vice president of the association, has met with Gordy, both at the public meeting and privately, and is encouraged by the consideration Gordy is showing to the community.
“We’re really trying to approach this in a positive way and I think we’re off to a good start by making this a collaborative effort,” said Spears.
A key issue for residents and fans of Ivanhoe is keeping its gritty, artsy vibe said Spears.
Gordy has also met with local artists who will be displaced by the new development to try to find ways to not only ease their disruption but to try to incorporate them into the new space.
“We don’t want to see the artistic community pushed out, if rents get too high, they won’t be able to stay,” he said.
As for the current tenants who will be displaced, they have until November 2015 to find new locations before construction begins. If they choose to move before then, they will be able to end their leases with no penalty, said Gordy.
Real Estate Inverlad also owns the property where The Venue currently sits, but Gordy says it will remain in place throughout construction, and talks are underway to incorporate The Venue into the new project.
Another major concern to locals is the potential increase in traffic, especially along Virginia Drive.
Gordy says Real Estate Inverlad is working with the City of Orlando to come up with viable solutions to the increased traffic, as well as looking at ways to improve walkability and bike access to the area.
“Traffic may be our most difficult problem, because it requires the city to act,” said Spears. “They really need to play catch up with infrastructure improvement for this to work well.”
With the retail space facing Virginia, Gordy says the goal is to add green space in the form of a pocket park and lawn area that he hopes will be a gathering spot for the community.
The residential space could add as many as 585 units to the area, but — as with the rest of the project — there are no finalized plans.
The developers have set up a website, IvanhoePlace.com, that will include updates on the project as well as a forum for community members to add their input.
“We are hoping it will not only provide people with lots of information as the project progresses, but it will be a space where people can also provide us feedback that will help make this a true community effort,” Gordy said.
“This is definitely a work in progress, but I have been impressed by the feedback from the community and plan to include as much of it as possible in the final design,” said Gordy.