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Commissioner Moore: "A successful CRA plan could result in a rebirth of downtown Apopka"


The goal of a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is for a municipality to aggressively apply county resources to a series of public programs which seek to induce or grow the flow of private capital into the area. The funding, required by Florida Statutes, is meant to address a “substantial number of deteriorating structures and blight”.  The state defines blight as bad traffic management, insufficient roadway networks, and infrastructure deficiencies such as streetlighting, sanitary sewer, stormwater drainage, vacated properties, and high-crime areas.

Being a part-time citizen historian, I can tell you downtown areas suffered nationwide when big box stores came on the scene. They caused many local emporiums and small businesses to go bankrupt. Today, with so much home delivery of goods and services, we are seeing even these shopping centers become blighted. Best practices in the 2020s include retrofitting inner-city shopping centers into much-needed multi-family housing or renovated government buildings.

Orange County Commissioner District 2 Christine Moore
Orange County Commissioner District 2 Christine Moore

Knowing I would be tasked with making the motion to approve or deny a ten-year extension of the Apopka CRA led me to a month-long period of personal research on the subject. I’m still researching thriving small-city downtowns and will be touring more cities across the state.

I have four cities in District 2: Ocoee, Apopka, Eatonville, and Orlando. Plus, I’m trying to create a main street for Lockhart. I have a passion for improving downtown areas. I believe character main streets are pivotal for economic vitality, private sector redevelopment, quality of life, and community pride.

I researched the original CRA documents from Apopka, Ocoee, and Winter Garden. Unfortunately, the 1994 Apopka document, while aspirational, lacks a plan, vision, or detail. I stand by President Reagan's quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

Fortunately, in 2017, the City of Apopka created a CRA plan. This plan has many aspects and details, which, if followed, would result in a successful rebirth of downtown Apopka. One positive development from the written plan has been the repaving of the 6th Street parking lot. Most of us have enjoyed the new establishments and are looking forward to the new murals. I’m also hearing city staff speak of going out for procurement for a new trail and upgraded sidewalks to connect the downtown area to the West Orange Trail. This will be a positive development once completed.

The 2017 plan lists some other positive strategies, such as improved infrastructure – directional signage, wayfinding features, and upgraded streetscape. The plan recommends the city administration develop an awards program that matches citizen contributions for beautification. Economic development efforts could go a long way to realizing private sector investment.

Business support from the Apopka Chamber could lead to new businesses located in previously residentially zoned areas. For our restaurants to thrive, we need more employees in the area. Finally, a historical property recognition program headed up by the Apopka Historical Society could bring more tourism and interest downtown.

Apopka currently enjoys six historical markers. They include Kelly Park, Lovell’s Landing, Oldest Masonic Lodge, Piedmont Community, Episcopal Church, and Apopka School House. I remember attending most of these dedications. A few more downtown markers could create the basis for a walking tour. I have written a Driving Tour of the downtown area, which is available at the Library, Canon Coffee, and my office. However, a walking tour on new sidewalks, improved streetscapes with wayfinding signage, new markers, and murals would be a great start toward preserving the CRA.

I can even think of a few more places for markers, like Ryan Lumber, the previous location of Consumer Veneer & Lumber, 1918 Tornado, St. Paul’s AME Church, Meads Bottom, the home of Mayor John Land, etc.  If asked, I might even curate one. I have extensive experience organizing historical exhibits in schools and communities. All it takes is citizens, non-profits, and businesses contributing funding.

Lastly, we need a street-by-street approach to improving the area and attracting buyers to purchase empty parcels. The number of vacant parcels has increased over the past thirty years. This is not a good trend. It needs to be reversed. I have several programs offered through the District 2 office, Corridor Chiefs and Corridor of the Year. I’m happy to train volunteers for this effort to clean up roadways in the CRA. We have seen the success of clean-ups leading to new development, new businesses, and new opportunity.

Finally, I am not oblivious to all the rancor and hostility currently circulating through Apopka. It pains me to see folks spending so much time and energy fighting one another. There is a solution. Get busy doing something positive. I believe, together, we could positively improve the trajectory of the area and extend ten more years of county funding for downtown Apopka.

Orange County, CRA, Downtown Apopka, Apopka, Orange County Commissioner Christine Moore, District 2


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  • MamaMia

    Nicely written article Christine. If only a magic wand could make it happen. I do have some questions for you. As usual, I doubt you will answer though. Why are you getting people to volunteer to do these walls that need repainting, around these private subdivisions? These private subdivisions charge their residents HOA fees, that are meant for maintenance and upkeep. Shouldn't the HOA's board be using their funds for that? Shouldn't you be maybe helping on something else to beautify, rather than the doing the HOA's duties? Also, Christine, it seems to me, you are hinting, what seems like a veiled threat that you might deny the extension for Apopka's CRA funding, unless more progress is made, during your city council presentation. Since you will vote on the issue? You say you would not want to deny the extension of the CRA for Apopka, but I am suspicious of your motives Christine. If you did that, you would only hurt Apopka and it's residents. It seems like politics is in play here...Do you want to respond?

    Thursday, May 25, 2023 Report this

  • MamaMia

    Also what I would like to know is, what happens to the CRA funds if you deny the extension of the CRA for Apopka, Christine? Who gets to keep the funds? Where would it go? I talked with Cliff Sheppard, the former city attorney, at one of the previous city council meetings. He explained to me that the special districts, do not get their funding from increased millage, as we all pay the same millage rates in the city, but that the special districts values have been increased in value by the Orange County property appraiser. This special district, the CRA, that is where the extra revenue comes from, the businesses and residents too, who paid more into this special district, the COA's CRA district. Christine, for you to deny the extension of Apopka's CRA, would amount to pure robbery IMO, and to those who paid in the funds that are in those CRA boundaries. You would only hurt Apopka.

    Thursday, May 25, 2023 Report this

  • MamaMia

    Just another reason I won't vote for Christine next go round at election time. She won't answer questions I ask, and she is my district Orange County Commissioner! Also, she is on a power trip IMO Oh, but Apopka Critic posts the above article here of Apopka Voice, on his website, and she starts commenting back and forth with the Apopka Critic. That is so funny. Also, Apopka Critic tells Christine, on his website, for Christine to be sure watch her CRA funds, etc....well, Apopka Critic, those CRA funds ARE NOT CHRISTINE'S FUNDS! They are the funds that belong to the property owners and residents, that paid them in, in

    property taxes, within the CRA special district of The City of Apopka! Quit this political leverage game you are playing, and stop threatening to deny Apopka's CRA extension, and don't even think about keeping our Apopka citizens rightful money. It is NOT YOUR FUNDS, like Apopka Critic states, Christine!

    Friday, May 26, 2023 Report this

  • Richard

    Mama Mia the Commissioner has every right to question where the funding will be spent, when the projects will come to fruition, and is there an actual CRA plan of improvement. I appreciate Miss Moore being a good steward of my tax dollars. Other than the city parking lot, where did the last funding go ? She is holding the circus clowns accountable. Someone has too.

    Tuesday, May 30, 2023 Report this

  • MamaMia

    Richard, We are specifically discussing the CRA funds collected from the CRA, within that distinct boundary, not all of Ms. Moore's Orange County district. You say you appreciate her being a good stewart of your tax money. Since we are discussing the CRA funds, and you had previously said you live in the Pines of Wekiva, well Richard, the Pines of Wekiva, is not in the CRA district. So unless you have another property in the CRA in Apopka, you don't pay into those CRA taxes. Yeah, you pay city, and county taxes, but not into the CRA funds. You are calling the CRA board members circus clowns? LOL....Richard, the CRA board is done other than the Apopka City Council, and some other people appointed to sit on it. I suggest you select one of your favorite circus clowns, and contact him, or her, by email, and ask what they completed with the last CRA money....LOL

    Tuesday, May 30, 2023 Report this

  • MamaMia

    Christine, Please tell me why you are having people (volunteers) trim trees along the roadways? The tree trimming is usually done by contracted licensed tree services that are also insured, and bonded, and, ordered up by Duke Energy, the counties, cities, and state. Companies such as Davie Tree Service,

    Asplundh, and some others, even out of state companies. Why on earth are you getting the fire department guys (union) from the City of Apopka, to volunteer to do this tree trimming along the roadways? All I ever hear is the fire department is short staffed, or needs to spend more time on training? Will you answer, for once, to explain why you are doing this? I don't see other Orange Co. commissioners doing such, nor our city commissioners either, and I wouldn't expect them to either! I saw this on Apopka Critic website, what you were doing.

    Sunday, June 4, 2023 Report this