Winter Park moves forward with new transit center next to Cooper Creek |

Winter Park moves forward with new transit center next to Cooper Creek

A new transit center planned at Cooper Creek in Winter Park will take over the space currently occupied by the town's ice skating rink.
Sky-Hi News file photo

Cooper Creek is already a hub for business in Winter Park, but with a new partnership with the town, it is looking to become a hub for transit, too.

The Winter Park Town Council approved a resolution Tuesday morning to allow Cooper Creek to expand its commercial space and add a transit center to the area on the bottom level of the Vasquez Street parking garage where the ice skating rink is currently located.

The space would include a 5,500-square-foot transit center combined with commercial space for a proposed taproom, 800 square feet of patio, a trash area, building storage and a bike washing station.

With the approval of the project, the town said it will contribute $500,000 to the construction of the transit center, public restrooms at the site and its beautification. The transit center would not only act as a stop for The Lift, giving people a large enclosed space to wait, but the town also hopes to include a ticket kiosk for people to purchase Winter Park Resort lift tickets, as well as Greyhound and Amtrak tickets.

“I think there (are) pretty good values: good public restrooms, a good place for people to stay warm, and you’ve got to figure, best case we get 10 years out of this thing, so you’re talking about $50,000 a year to have that,” council member Chris Seemann said.

Winter Park Mayor Jimmy Lahrman and council member Mike Periolat shared concerns about the cost of the project, but transit manager Michael Koch said other transit centers in the state have been more expensive, typically costing upwards of $1 million.

Charlie Johnson, a principal at WC Johnson, which owns Cooper Creek, said the transit center is a good value to the town because it also provides public restrooms and increases the town’s sales tax revenue with the added commercial space.

“It’s not just half-a-million and the town gets a transit center, it’s half-a-million and the town gets new tax generating business and it could be a catalyst for the area as well,” Johnson said.

Catherine Ross, executive director for the Winter Park & Fraser Chamber of Commerce, said the public restrooms would provide a needed amenity for the town, especially since the town’s visitor’s center currently doesn’t have public restrooms and neither will its new building.

“We’re finding that that’s a real need in our community,” she explained.

Council member Chuck Banks, who is also the Winter Park representative on the Transit Advisory Council, said the location is ideal for a transit center, which he feels is an immediate need for the town.

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