Plans for Oviedo’s walkable historic downtown take shape

An integral part of the plan for a walkable historic downtown in Oviedo is expected to be considered by the Oviedo City Council on Monday.

A link in the historic downtown trail network that would connect the newly opened Solary Park to the Oviedo Trail and the Cross Seminole Trail was approved by the Oviedo Local Planning Agency board on Nov. 16.

The connection is a small but significant part of a larger plan to create a walkable city grid in the historic downtown area, the core of which is where Broadway Street intersects Oviedo Boulevard. The city has been working on the downtown’s planning since 2000.

During a November Local Planning Agency (LPA) board meeting, City Manager Bryan Cobb called Solary Park the centerpiece of the historic downtown.

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“Now we’ve got two anchors, the way I look at it. We’ve got Center Lake down here and we’ve got Solary Lake up here,” Cobb said, referring to a map of the city, marking the two focal points. “We’re starting to see the plan come alive. I’m excited about this. As my wife says, the downtown’s my baby.”

The plan presented to LPA included a number of roadway widenings and alterations. They included the following:

  • A trailhead at Solary Park, which is near the Oviedo Boulevard roundabout
  • An expansion of Franklin Street to Lake Jesup Avenue
  • Geneva Drive will be relocated to the east and will include 12-foot sidewalks on either side.
  • A new road connecting Geneva Drive to Central Avenue with a widening planned for Central Avenue, which includes extra-wide sidewalks on the south side of the road
  • Phase 2 of the State Road 426/419 widening is expected to start at the beginning of 2022 and will include 8-foot-wide sidewalks.
  • A 12-foot path along Oviedo Boulevard, which will include landscaping

During the meeting Dave Axel, chairman of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency Board and representative for Citizens Bank of Florida, which owns the trail connector land, said the idea behind the plan is to create a grid of roadways to disperse traffic, unclogging the area’s main arteries. It’ll also get people out of their cars and walking.

“That’s the whole idea. Kind of the opposite of the way the rest of Oviedo is,” Axel said.

How downtown projects get their start

Oviedo’s Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) totals 674 acres and encompasses the historic downtown and Oviedo on the Park areas. The Community Redevelopment Area Board consists of the five Oviedo City Council members and two members appointed by the Seminole County Commission who either live or do business in the redevelopment area. You can find those members here.

The CRA board plans and funds road, housing, arts and culture and business-related projects within the two downtown areas that are identified within the Oviedo Community Redevelopment Plan, which was adopted in 2010. Funding for CRA projects and activities come from annual tax revenue increases associated with increased property values within the CRA area from the baseline taken in 2010. The CRA’s revenues in 2020 totaled almost $999,000.

About the LPA

The LPA board “considers applications for comprehensive plan amendments, land development code amendments, zoning map amendments, deviations to land development code standards associated with the building permit applications, special exception use orders, preliminary subdivision plans, planned unit developments, master land use plans and development agreements”, according to the City of Oviedo website. Many of the items that are considered by the Oviedo City Council are first reviewed by the LPA.

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