A historic movement is underway in the Lake Davis/Greenwood neighborhood. A group of local residents is pursuing the creation of a new historic district with the City of Orlando’s Historic Preservation Board. Committee Chairman Mark Line says that the homeowners’ association is “proud of its neighborhoods and would like to keep the integrity of its historic look.” Line believes that there are enough older homes to warrant the recognition, and, more importantly, protection of a historic district.
Many of the homes, especially Craftsman bungalows, date to the 1920s. The City requires a minimum age of 50 years in order for a house to be considered as a “contributing” structure in a historic district, which would put houses built earlier than 1969 as eligible. Preservation guidelines and restrictions are largely up to each district, but most regulate exterior structural appearance. Homes newer than 50 years would be considered “non-contributing” structures, and would not be subject to the same rules, but if replaced, the new structure would then need to conform to the neighborhood’s historic character.
Line says that “new homes are fine, but they often don’t conform to the appearance of existing homes, so we want to slow down demolition and improve on the existing properties.” A petition process has been underway, and the seven members of the organizing committee have collected signatures from about 20 percent of the residents. Only 15 percent are needed to move the process forward. After two years of planning, promoting, and collecting signatures, the process has been turned over to the City for the next step: a survey of historic resources.
Richard Forbes, Orlando’s historic preservation officer, says that the Historic Preservation Board uses the following criteria when determining if a historic district overlay is appropriate or not: citizen involvement, evaluation of the architectural significance of area buildings, and consideration of the neighborhood’s contributions to Orlando’s cultural heritage.
Forbes believes there are about 350 buildings on which they’ll need to gather information. “There is a beautiful range of historic residences in the Lake Davis/Greenwood area that range from Bungalows to more high-style Revival architecture,” he said.
The neighboring Lake Cherokee Historic District was created in 1981, and Line believes it’s a natural fit to close the protective circle between Lake Cherokee and the Lake Copeland and Lake Lawsona Historic Districts.
Doug Prince, president of the Lake Davis/Greenwood Neighborhood Association, has been a realtor with Olde Town Brokers for 38 years. He says he has seen developers tear down perfectly good 1920s bungalows, and hopes the historic district can help preserve the architectural integrity.
Line says that the surrounding districts have benefited greatly from Historic designations, and that they would like to benefit in the same manner. The committee believes that the benefits include increased property values, more home owners and fewer renters, property improvements, and increased pride of home ownership.
Prince says there has been little opposition, and most of it concerns items that won’t be regulated, such as interiors, back yards, or exterior colors, so the committee needs to continue educating neighbors. Prince and Line plan to hold more informational meetings and gather feedback. They have also brought in residents from the Lake Eola Heights Historic District to talk about their experience, along with the Orange Preservation Trust.
Forbes says that creating a historic district is a long process. “It is so important to have neighborhood support through the process and that neighbors remain civil and respectful even if they have different views,” he recommends.