Monday, July 15, 2024

Unique downtown arts space starts construction – Orlando Business Journal

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A unique arts-focused gathering space has started work near downtown Orlando’s oldest commercial building.

The Downtown Arts District and city of Orlando officials held the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Ford-ify The Arts Courtyard at CityArts on July 10. The celebration, occurring a day before the start of construction, kicked off the unique location in an alley to the north of the historic Rogers-Kiene Building which CityArts calls home at 37-39 S. Magnolia Ave.

Dr. Paul Skomsky, a dentist and Downtown Arts District board member who is helping lead the project, told Orlando Business Journal the space not only will be available to the public, but also will allow for private events and parties, including weddings and holiday parties. “It’s going to be a nice addition to the neighborhood and a great addition to the arts district.”

The project is named for the late Ford Kiene, former City Beverages CEO and a philanthropist for the arts who donated the building CityArts calls home. Skomsky first spoke with him about doing the project six years ago, which kicked off the process and eventually got others involved.

For example, Scott Stahley of Lincoln Property Co. offered construction materials from the now-demolished Church Street Ballroom, including bricks, ironwork and more, to reuse. Orlando-based Interstruct Inc. designed the project and is the contractor.

Barbara Harley, director of the Downtown Arts District, said it allows CityArts to expand its available space and provides an area for rotating arts installations and live music. The courtyard area in the past hosted socially distanced arts events during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shan Rose, the Orlando City Commissioner whose district includes the project, said during the event that the courtyard is tied to the city’s ongoing Project DTO 2.0. “Part of Project DTO 2.0 is reactivating Magnolia Avenue, and this definitely goes in alliance with that vision.”

Construction on the project is expected to be completed in November, although the gate at the front was completed in December 2023. Funding partners for the roughly $700,000 project besides private donors include the city of Orlando’s downtown development board, Orange County and the State of Florida Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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