A New Event Center for Winter Park Explained

We’ve been studying the future of the library facility for over two years, but the March 15 bond issue voters will decide covers a new library AND a new civic center, plus parking for both. The civic center was a later addition to the project, and some people may still have questions as to why the City Commission decided that the current facility needs to be replaced and what benefits the new events center would bring to the community.

Winter Park’s civic center is an aging facility with increasing maintenance costs and decreasing appeal to users. Cosmetic Band-aid improvements have provided temporary relief, but the shortcomings of the facility can’t be fixed with new paint and some floor tile. Although it is still revenue neutral, it won’t remain so for long. Proactively replacing the civic center with a new events center that better meets the community’s needs will create synergies with a new library and make the most efficient use of the city’s financial and land assets.

Current Civic Center Limitations

  • 85% of the civic center’s business is from weddings, a clientele that is increasingly demanding customization options the current facility can’t deliver.
  • It can only accommodate 200 dining guests or 300 seated in rows, far too small for many social and business events…and not competitive for many weekday tradeshow events that could increase revenue.
  • The opening of The Alfond Inn and Lake Mary’s new civic center has given brides and other local busineses more options, and the civic center is losing business.
  • With a footprint of over 11,000 square feet, the civic center has a paltry 5,800 square feet of rental space, much of it taken up with an inefficient stage ill-suited for performances.
  • The bathrooms are woefully inadequate for large events.
  • The “bride’s room,” a key amenity for wedding rentals is a poorly lit, ill-equipped, closet-sized room without so much as a sink.
  • The civic center is 30 years old and was built at a time when the area we now know as Martin Luther King, Jr. Park was a filthy mud pit full of weeds and trash of every kind. It is awkwardly placed on the site,  making inefficient use of a prime civic location and virtually ignoring the stunning park on which it looks..
  • The storage for the entire facility is located under the stage, leaving it inaccessible during events.
  • The poor interior layout makes for very difficult and crowded event greeting, check-in and reception space, creating a poor guest experience – making it less attractive to renters.
  • Lighting, acoustics and technology are poor.
  • All staff work out of a tiny, shared space, leaving sensitive customer interactions to happen out in the open. Imagine having to explain the complex family situation that weddings expose in a room with three or four people coming and going.

Although some of the limitations seem relatively minor, when the building’ woes are taken together as a whole, a proactive replacement is the clear, finanial reponsible choice, eliminating the need to pour money into temporary solutions, And the pairing of the events center with the new library add even more value to the project.


Community Opportunities

  • A sustainable, energy efficient facility with lower operating costs that is better situated on the site and honors the park it is adjacent to.
  • Synergistic partnership with the new library that shares large and small meeting, as well as staff.
  • The capacity to hold larger events and welcome new business events and trade shows the old facility could not accommodate.
  • Capability to offer more add-ons such as customizable lighting, upgraded furniture and other amenities that generate more rental funds that are returned to the City.
  • Depending on public input that will take place during the design phase, elements of a performance space could also be incorporated to give the community a venue for community performances, recitals, and shows.

Together, a new library and events center will become a center for culture and learning in our community, working together to make the most of residents’ investment in both structures. They will attract new events and customers to Winter Park, which s why the project has been endorsed by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the Park Avenue Merchants Association.

March 12, 2016

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Why does Winter Park need a new Library building?
Bonds, Costs and Taxes for a New Library and Events Center Explained
Endorsements for New Library and Events Center
An Outside, Expert Opinion on the New Library, Events Center, Parking Project
Realtor Association Endorses Library and Events Center Referendum