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Town Center vision for 'blighted' Seminole County area not the best idea

Cars traveling on State Road 436 in Seminole County
Cars traveling on State Road 436 in Seminole County
George Skene/Orlando Sentinel

If you have ever taken Lynx bus No. 102, you have certainly been to the corner of Oxford Road and Fernwood Boulevard in Seminole County.

In a county normally ranked as the most desirable place to live in the Orlando Metro area, this patch of the county may be one of its sore spots. Beer cans liter the bus stop, the pavement is cracked from vehicle wear and tear and the punishing Florida sun, and the area looks like a surreal scene out of the movie Mad Max.

So while I do agree that the area needs some tender, love and care, what I don't agree with is the plan Seminole County is presenting for the area. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the county, along with the city of Casselberry -- where the area sits in -- are trying to cook up ways to rejuvenate this long-time stain on Seminole's tidy sweater.

Officials want to turn Oxford Road into an area filled with new apartments, restaurants, shops and offices, kind of like Casselberry's own version of widely successful Uptown Altamonte district.

Another reason why officials are now paying more attention to this area is because of a "flyover" that this due to open at the intersection of US 17-92 and State Road 436, one of Metro Orlando's most congested intersections. Their reason is that the flyover project will deteriorate the area further into abyss.

Look, I'm all for prettying up that area, but this plan is not going to change people perception of Casselberry. . Casselberry has always been a flyover suburb, and place with no real downtown. Just a suburb with houses and some go-go bars. That is all, and this project is not going to make anyone see it differently.

So while I agree that it could use some form of visual anesthetics, I don't agree that turning it into another Uptown Altamonte or Baldwin Park is the best idea. It needs to be something original, something unique, something with vision.

The plan conjured up by Seminole and Casselberry lacks all three of those traits, and that is why those two need to go back to the drawing board.

Kareem Gantt gives his opinion on all things Central Florida every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. For more from this author, 'follow' him on Twitter, 'like' him on Facebook, and 'add' him to your network on Google.

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