Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Watching Orlando Slip-Slide

I've been looking at some of the pageview statistics on the blog, looking for what seems to be catching reader's attention. One page that keeps coming up repeatedly is the "Watching Orlando Unravel" series I posted from January to November 2009. One of the building complexes I photographed in the series was the Windermere Business Center, which is nowhere near Windermere, but that didn't stop them from naming what they did.

I first photographed this complex on my side of Orlando in January 2009, and wrote a bit about it as well, noting that it had very, very few tenants.


Over two years later, little has changed. Yes, there are a few more tenants, most notably Tiger Martial Arts, but not enough to allow the original owner of the complex to keep the building. Now Caldwell Banker Commercial owns the paper, and the complex.

Looking closer at the complex, cracks have appeared on the outer surface (and patched over) a mere two years after completion of construction. I can only assume Caldwell Banker is paying to fix the place up.


Finally, this two-store strip mall located next to a post office at the intersection of Kirkman and Old Winter Garden Road. It was built in early 2009. It stands silent and empty like so many others from that period.

Kirkman Plaza

On the side of town where I work is a large elaborate strip mall at the corner of N. Alafaya and Corporate. This stretch still stands as empty as the day in January 2009 when I first photographed it.

N. Alafaya and Corporate

And this group of buildings is at the back of Research Park on Discovery Drive. It's been nearly two years since the businesses that once filled it packed up and moved on. While some of the other empty buildings in Research Park have picked up new tenants, this section remains as empty as ever, a permanent casualty of the decline in defense spending in Orlando, and a silent warning of what is to come as more of the defense budget is cut.

Discovery Drive

I observe all this as a counterpoint to governor Rick Scott and the republican-dominated Florida state house's ill-informed attempt to loosen or eliminate the many checks and balances passed since the 1980s, checks and balances meant to keep over-development in check and protect Florida for future generations. Checks and balances that barely work in their current form.

Eliminations that are also supposed to magically help create more jobs in Florida. We've got empty buildings and condos all through Orlando because of the real estate bubble that help trigger the Great Recession. If we're not careful, and if we let Scott and his cronies in Tallahassee follow through, we'll wind up with even more empty buildings as monuments to their stupidity. And even more of paradise will be paved over.

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