Green areas are incorporated within Baldwin Park's village
center, surrounded by businesses and apartments. File photo
Sure, we've seen pictures and poked around on Google StreetView, but you can't feel the energy of a neighborhood without visiting and talking to people. That's why we hit the road on March 10 to learn more about Baldwin Park and Avalon Park in Orange County. The trip was to see the potential look and feel of Whiting Preston's proposed Crossroads development.
The result of that trip was detailed in three stories and a photo gallery in Sunday's paper, and I'll post the links below. Of course, there wasn't enough room to post everything that people had to say, so here's some other nuggets that folks offered up in Baldwin Park. All the good stuff in Avalon Park was already used. Sorry.
"Do you feel like you're in Florida here? It has a Midwest feel. It does to me, maybe that's what drew us because we're from Ohio." -- Jennifer Violand, who recently moved to Baldwin Park with her husband from Sarasota. She said the town reminded her of Carmel, Ind., the wealthiest town in Indiana and suburb of Indianapolis.
Since Violand lived in Sarasota, I asked her if she ever shopped in Lakewood Ranch because it's the closest thing Manatee County has to the Crossroads but is quite different. "I haven't really been there. When you say Lakewood Ranch, I've only really been to the Publix there on University. I heard the traffic's terrible."
Here's more from Dale Petersen, resident and vice president of Baldwin Park Residential Owners Association with more to say about living there:
"I've been here just about 10 years. My wife and I were empty nesters and we're looking to downsize. My daughter, who is an urban planner, she talked us into taking a look into Baldwin park and when we did, we fell in love with it and bought a place." "You're never more than two blocks to a park. It's front-porch living. It's those things that make a community more personable."
"We lived in a beautiful 4,000-square-foot home with a pool in suburban Orlando and never once in the 10 years that I lived there saw my neighbor across the street."
Larry Nordman was getting his hair cut at Kennedy's All American Barber Club and offered his insight on the community.
"This community was hit with residential real estate debacle like all the rest. There was a pause perhaps in the build-out. To some extent this commercial is dependent upon resident growth."
"Considering what this was, the community was pretty excited to see something like this come in."
Johanna Stewart, manager at Farris and Foster's Famous Chocolate Factory:
"From my experience, we do have regulars that live here and come in, but it's not like they make gigantic purchases on a normal business. A lot of our business is drawn from outside of the neighborhood and outside of Orlando like Apoka and Lake Mary just because of what we sell."
"We get tourists coming in here all the time thinking this is Park Avenue in Winter Park, and they have a bunch of shops there where you can stroll the street. We don't because we're basically food related. We need more places to walk around and see what's being sold."
Javier Fong, who was walking his dog Hannah:
"When we saw the house that we bought, on Bennett, we really liked all the upgrades that they had. We were selling our house in Oviedo. We did a 1035 Exchange. My father had a property is Leesburg that he sold and we needed to buy a house to do the 1035 Exchange. My mother really liked the house that we bought, and that's why we moved."
Read and see more about Baldwin Park and Avalon Park: