Residents in Orlando’s Lake Davis-Greenwood community don’t want historic neighborhood designation

City says designation helps improve property values

Emotions have been running high among neighbors of the Lake Davis-Greenwood community in Orlando after a petition was signed to designate it a historic district.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The committee pushing for the historic district designation has withdrawn its petition. Read the letter of withdrawal here.

Emotions have been running high among neighbors of the Lake Davis-Greenwood community in Orlando after a petition was signed to designate it a historic district.

“My biggest concern is that I am now vesting the city with the authority to make decisions that I can make today and I’m doing that without any benefit,” Williams Vanos, a 14-year resident of the neighborhood said. “Where is the benefit? And we have been provided with a half dozen reasons none of which really amount to anything. Reasons we’ve been given don’t really apply to this neighborhood.”

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Vanos is hoping to take up his concerns with city leaders in their next community meeting on Tuesday.

“I am hoping that the city will say, ‘We’ve heard the will of the people, we’ve heard the incredible opposition, we don’t think it’s appropriate to impose this additional set of restrictions on these properties,’” he said, adding those restrictions could come into place if the Lake Davis-Greenwood neighborhood is made into a historic district.

“We’ve been asked to agree to additional regulations on our property, additional restrictions, additional processes for approvals. We’re gonna be required to have higher grade materials, certain specific materials, when we do make improvements,” Vanos said. “All of that is going to be within the discretion of the city going forward. From my perspective, I’m giving something up and there’s really no resulting benefit to offset what I’m giving up. And it’s a real challenge for me and all of my neighbors honestly.”

Vanos said if his neighborhood becomes a historic district, it would put a strain on property owners because they wouldn’t be able to make changes to their homes, therefore turning them into rental properties instead.

“That’s fine. We have a lot of rentals in this neighborhood, that’s great, but the reality is when you have renters instead of owners you have a more transient community. It changes the nature of the community. You have shorter relationships, fewer bonds,” he said. “As a result of that, we have a lot of concerns that people are gonna become rental owners and they aren’t going to maintain the properties that they own to the degree they maintain them today.”

According to Vanos, the idea was presented through a petition in 2018, which Vanos said he didn’t sign. Currently, almost 70 property owners oppose the designation. Vanos said when he was approached to sign the petition, residents weren’t made aware of the implications.

“Nobody who signed the petition said they wanted the district by signing the petition, they said that they were open to exploring the idea,” Vanos said.

At the helm of the process is the Lake Davis-Greenwood neighborhood Historic District Committee with six members.

“I have rights today that the proponents of this historic district are asking me to give up. And they’re not even asking me, they’re telling me that they want me to give them up,” Vanos said. “From my perspective, it’s a question of why do the proponents of this additional regulation propose it? What is the benefit of making this change? A third of the structures in this area that are gonna be impacted aren’t historic, aren’t even 50 years old, so they aren’t considered contributing.”

News 6 contacted several members of the committee and only Mark Line, who declined an interview request, responded.

Commissioner Patty Sheehan said she is in ongoing discussions with other city leaders about this matter. In an email, the city of Orlando sent a list of benefits a historic district would incur.

Below is a list of some benefits associated with historic districts:

  • Through reports by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, based on local Orlando historic districts, consistently show historic districts maintain their property values or increase, even during economic or real estate downturns.
  • Historic districts create a sense of community pride and stewardship.
  • New construction and major alterations are reviewed for architectural details and accuracy, which encourages superior design when rehabilitating historic properties or constructing in-fill properties, thus increases the home values of surrounding properties.
  • Being in a historic district provides the residents with a point person in City Hall. The historic preservation officer assists residents within the historic district with multiple requests outside of reviews for alterations.

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.