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Communities of West Orange

201 S. Rosalind Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
(407) 836-3111
Incorporated: 1845
Millage: 4.4347
Mayor: Teresa Jacobs

Dr. Philip Phillips was a pioneer in the citrus industry, responsible for several key innovations in the processing and packaging of orange juice. He owned thousands of acres of groves, stretching across nine central Florida counties. Dr. Phillips eventually sold the bulk of his property to Minute Maid in the 1950s. The property he owned in southwest Orange County was sold to developers who built Bay Hill and other subdivisions.

The area has experienced explosive growth in the last 30 years, due largely to the location of two key local industries: defense and tourism. Initially, it was the construction of defense giant Martin Marietta (currently Lockheed Martin) that had the greatest impact on Dr. Phillips, but that was only until the arrival in 1971 of Orlando’s most famous resident, Mickey Mouse. The impact of Walt Disney World on all of central Florida has been huge, but nowhere is it more recognizable than in southwest Orlando and the Dr. Phillips area.

The Dr. Phillips area has been able to maintain its superb quality of life by timely upgrading of the infrastructure and controlling growth. Many people move to the Dr. Phillips area due to the reputation of the public schools alone. Located on the eastern shore of the Butler Chain of Lakes, many residents are active in boating and water sports. The Dr. Phillips area also boasts a great town center and numerous first-rate restaurants on Sand Lake Road. The area has just welcomed a 43-acre, state-of-the-art county park, named after its namesake, Dr. P. Phillips.

The Dr. Phillips Rotary organization has been serving the community since 1979 and has been active in a number of area events. Community festivities include the Annual 4th of July Celebration sponsored by the Dr. Phillips Rotary and the high school drama club, and the Annual Dr. Phillips Founders Day celebrated on the birthday of Dr. Phillips.

201 S. Rosalind Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
(407) 836-3111
Incorporated: 1845
Millage: 4.4347
Mayor: Teresa Jacobs

Nestled among mighty oaks and peaceful lakes in West Orange County is the community Town of Gotha. It was founded in 1885 by Henry Hempel and named after his hometown in Germany. Gotha has been protected as a rural settlement for decades and as a historical preservation district since 1995.

Along main street Hempel you can find Palm Cottage Gardens, which was home to Dr. Henry Nehrling, a property listed on the National Register of Historical Places; the Zion Lutheran Church, founded in 1915; the Yellow Dog Eats Café, housed in the historic Fishers Country Store; the Gotha Post Office; and a few unique offices. Also in Gotha is a community park for numerous outdoor activities and the Gotha Community Center that was originally a one-room schoolhouse.

On the Palm Cottage Gardens property is Dr. Nehrling’s 1880s house, kitchen and experimental gardens. In 1885, Dr. Nehrling, a 31-year-old Wisconsin ornithologist, schoolteacher and naturalist, purchased 40 acres of land in the newly founded community of Gotha, Florida, in Southwest Orange County. His dream was of a garden where he could grow tropical and sub-tropical plants year-round. The garden ultimately became Florida’s first experimental botanical garden, where Dr. Nehrling tested more than 3,000 new and rare plants for the U.S.D.A. Office of Foreign Plant Introduction. Of these, more than 300 new and beneficial plants were introduced into Florida’s landscape including palms, cycads, caladiums, hybrid amaryllis, crinum lilies, bamboos, camellias, Indian hawthorn and hybrid magnolias. In the early 1900s, Dr. Nehlring’s Palm Cottage Gardens became a popular destination for thousands of tourists, nature lovers and new Florida settlers. Many prominent people of the era, such as Theodore Roosevelt, John Burroughs, Liberty Hyde Bailey and Dr. David Fairchild, the famous botanical explorer, visited these early gardens. Due to surrounding development, the once 40-acre property has been reduced to six remaining acres. The property was recently purchased by the non-profit Henry Nehrling Society, Inc. in November 2009 for use as an education center/arboretum /botanical garden to teach historic preservation, horticultural education and environmental conservation.

The Community Center hosts Dance of Life Yoga classes, as well as monthly, covered-dish dinners for the residents and other community functions. Ten minutes from downtown Orlando, the Town of Gotha’s large lot requirements, protective community association and highly desirable schools (All “A” Schools) have made this community a premier place to live.

201 S. Rosalind Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
(407) 836-3111
Incorporated: 1845
Millage: 4.4347
Mayor: Teresa Jacobs

Located in southwest Orange County, Horizon West is a new community designed using principles of Garden Cities and New Urbanism to create self-sustaining, mixed-use villages. As the community is established over the next few decades, these principles ensure that new development will contribute to a sense of place, environmental preservation, excellent architectural design, quality bicycle and pedestrian facilities and vibrant community gathering places.

The Horizon West planning area is located south of John’s Lake and west of Windermere to the Lake County line. Horizon West includes nearly 23,000 acres that were citrus groves until the devastating freezes of the 1980s, which created the impetus to institute appropriate master planning for the area’s urbanization over time.

This process began in 1994, when property owners and area residents, with county support, created a detailed community vision for Horizon West. In 1996, Orange County designated Horizon West with the Village Future Land Use designation, which allows only one residence per 10 acres until a detailed Specific Area Plan is done to create a master plan for a new village. When completed, Horizon West will include five residential villages and a town center to serve Horizon West villages with commercial office workplaces and higher density residential areas.

These villages are comprised of two to four neighborhoods, each centered around a community elementary school, with housing located within a half-mile walking distance to the school and its neighboring park. Each village also includes a Village Center with retail and services that support residential areas. Villages are separated by greenbelts, including extensive bikeway and pedestrian networks, and take into consideration existing environmental features to support the overall vision for Horizon West. This community vision is fast becoming a reality, as all six villages have been adopted by the Board of County Commissioners. These are Lakeside, Bridgewater, Town Center, Village F, Village H (soon to be called Village Hickory Nut) and Village I. Two of the Villages, Lakeside and the Village of Bridgewater, have significant development.

It is anticipated that 42,000 residential units will be built in Horizon West. Today, about 8,000 residents call Horizon West their home. Horizon West has won numerous state and regional awards for planning, including recognition from the State of Florida as a Sector Plan, which exempts the Horizon West area from the Development of Regional Impact regulatory process. Horizon West provides a meaningful alternative to the leapfrog development pattern of sprawl by creating self-sustaining villages that provide housing close to regional workplaces and community services. The original vision of property owners and residents is being achieved by the village concept and comprehensive long-term planning to ensure a bright future for Horizon West and southwest Orange County.

201 S. Rosalind Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
(407) 836-3111
Incorporated: 1845
Millage: 4.4347
Mayor: Teresa Jacobs

Orange County’s rural communities are important to the county’s quality of life, lifestyle and history. To preserve these community assets, the County’s Rural Settlement designation establishes policies and corresponding land uses that retain these communities’ rural character. In West Orange County, the Lake Avalon community was designated a Rural Settlement by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners in May 2004. Based on a community planning process with Lake Avalon residents, the new Rural Settlement designation helps to provide a transition between Lake Avalon’s rural development pattern and adjacent development in Horizon West.

In the Lake Avalon Rural Settlement, residential properties have densities that vary from one residence per acre, one residence per two acres and one resident per five acres. Limited neighborhood, commercial and office uses are allowed in the rural settlement to support the community’s residents. However, the scale and type of this development must be compatible with the rural development pattern and must comply with the Lake Avalon Rural Settlement Commercial Design Guidelines.

With its history dating from the 1920s, the Lake Avalon community is a cornerstone of West Orange County. The Lake Avalon Rural Settlement designation will help to ensure that this community’s legacy remains in place for the next several decades, while maintaining and enhancing the community’s quality of life for the residents of Lake Avalon.

One City Commons
400 S. Orange Avenue
P.O. Box 4990
Orlando, Florida 32802-4990
(407) 246-2121
Incorporated: 1875
Millage: 5.6500
Mayor: Buddy Dyer

Quality of life and community pride have always been and continue to be priorities in MetroWest. Developed in 1985, it is one of Orlando’s first master-planned communities and features award-winning landscaping and MetroWest Golf Club, as well as “A” and “B” public schools, Valencia Community College with a UCF satellite campus and convenient access to both I-4 and 408 from the west side of Orlando. MetroWest Elementary School was dedicated to “miracles in the making” in 1986 and continues today to offer award-winning teaching and leadership to our community’s future leaders.

MetroWest uniquely provides a community lifestyle with outdoor recreation options and neighborhood businesses, both small and large. Located just minutes from Orlando’s downtown business district, the community offers opportunities for retail and commercial business growth. Current MetroWest businesses include SunTrust, Hilton Grand Vacations and Hard Rock Café’s corporate headquarters, to name a few. MetroWest business owners and leaders are encouraged by the community’s continued growth and excited about being part of its future. For more information, please visit

220 N. Tubb Street
P.O. Box 98
Oakland, Florida 34760
(407) 656-1117
Incorporated: 1887
Population: 2,200
Millage: 6.888
Mayor: Kathy Stark

Surrounded by enormous moss-draped oak trees, the Town of Oakland is located on the southern shores of Lake Apopka. Incorporated in 1887, Oakland now has about 2,200 residents within its quiet, serene, country atmosphere. Due to rapid growth in and around Oakland, maintaining its image of “Nestled Among the Oaks” has been one of Oakland’s greatest feats. In addition to the residents, Oakland is home to the West Orange Trailhead and the Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP). The Trailhead brings thousands of recreation seekers to the area annually, and the ONP provides them with the pristine beauty of Florida’s flora and fauna. In addition, the new Environmental Education Center (EEC) at ONP, opened in January 2009, provides the venue for nature classes and lectures. The EEC museum contains a library and displays of historical artifacts from the area.

Today, Oakland remains a quaint, unhurried rural community much like it was in 1887, when the town was incorporated. The oak tree-lined clay streets are nostalgic reminders of an era when life was peaceful and everyone knew all their neighbors. The town folks still meet and greet their neighbors every morning when they pick up their mail at the Oakland Post Office. A 700-student charter elementary school is Oakland’s most recent achievement, affording area residents with a choice in their child’s education.

A day spent in Oakland will take you back in time to the old, small Florida towns of yesterday.

150 N. Lakeshore Drive
Ocoee, Florida 34761
(407) 905-3100
Incorporated: 1925
Population: 34,000 plus
Millage: 5.4974
Mayor: S. Scott Vandergrift

When Florida was a comparatively young state, people traveled from the north to the area now known as Ocoee. In the mid 1850s, Dr. J.D. Starke established a village known as Starke Lake situated on the body of water of the same name. After the Civil War, confederate soldiers and their families founded the town of Ocoee. Captain Bluford Sims and General William Temple Withers were some of the first to settle in the area. It was Captain Sims who gave the town its Indian name, Ocoee, which means “wild apricot vine place,” later known as the “passion flower place.”

The City of Ocoee is a shining example of the notion that growth and history can be successfully blended. The Ocoee Christian Church and the Withers-Maguire House and Museum are locations where Ocoee’s history is faithfully preserved for future generations. The city’s past culture is observed in the beautiful parks, brick roads and historic buildings. This past intertwined with the growth and expansion of businesses including Manheim Orlando, Health Central Hospital, West Oaks Mall and Sysco Foods make Ocoee the “Center of Good Living.”

Ocoee has come a long way since 1881, when Captain Sims acquired a 74-acre parcel of land in what is now considered downtown Ocoee. Ocoee’s population then totaled only 115 residents. Since then, Ocoee has been inviting people to share in its beauty and good fortune and now is home to more than 34,000 people.

While the city’s pioneers may have believed Ocoee to be an appropriate name, meaning “not cold,” the many newcomers to the area would probably say a name more fitting would be interpreted to mean “all roads lead here.” With the Florida Turnpike, the East/West Expressway, State Road 50 and the new Western Beltway all leading to or passing through Ocoee, residents can reach downtown Orlando, the airport and all of the major attractions within 30 minutes.

The hard work and dreams of the founders of Ocoee laid the foundation for all that we know today. With Ocoee consistently experiencing a robust building rate for the past several years, all roads do indeed lead here to the “Center of Good Living.”

201 S. Rosalind Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
(407) 836-3111
Incorporated: 1927
Millage: 4.4347
Mayor: Tesesa Jacobs

Orlo Vista means “View of Orlando” in Spanish. In the early 1900s, there were approximately 300 inhabitants of Orlo Vista, including grove workers, winter visitors and native Floridians. Today, Orange County records indicate there are about 7,000 residents who call Orlo Vista home. The Orlo Vista community is defined by Orange County as being south of Colonial Drive with western bounds at Hiawassee Road, eastern bounds at Pine Hills Road to Old Winter Garden Road to Ring Road and southern bounds at the City of Orlando boundaries and Carter Street.

One of the original settlers of Orange County was Aaron Jernigan. He and many of his family and descendants are interred at the Lake Hill Cemetery south of Orlando Winter Garden Road and west of Kirkman Road. In 1927, Orlo Vista was incorporated as a city. The city was abolished by a vote of residents in May 1929 as a result of the Great Depression. Since that time, Orlo Vista has been a part of Unincorporated Orange County.

Today, Orlo Vista is a dynamic, culturally diverse community made up of hard-working individuals and families. Orlo Vistans are fiercely proud of their community. The creation of Walt Disney World in the early 1970s resulted in many residents working in the tourist industry. However, there is a mix of individuals living here who work in other fields of endeavor. State Senator Daniel Webster is proud to call Orlo Vista home. Orlo Vista is home to Orange County Fire Station 30, one of the busier stations in Orange County.

Orlo Vista is home to more than 30 churches of different faiths. One of the original churches built in 1925, Irwin Memorial Methodist Church, is still serving the community as God’s Missionary Church at 22 South John Street. Another historic church in the community is Lake Hill Baptist Church, built in 1926 and still serving the community today at 301 South Hudson Street.

201 S. Rosalind Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
(407) 836-3111
Incorporated: 1845
Millage: 4.4347
Mayor: Tesesa Jacobs

To this day, many Pine Hills families trace their residency here to Martin Marietta’s (now Lockheed Martin) defense facility development. Still others will recount the days when much of Pine Hills were rolling groves of citrus. More recently, a good many residents look to the tourism industry as the magnet for their migration to Pine Hills.

Comprised of some 35,000 households in a four-square-mile area, Pine Hills is a community of many neighborhoods housing an ethnically and occupationally diverse population. As one of Orange County’s oldest communities, Pine Hills is also the location of quality ranch-style houses, many on oversized lots, which are especially suited to growing families.

Much of Pine Hills is well positioned to benefit from the dramatic growth of Orange County as the older residents transition into smaller units in other areas. The community has the needed infrastructure and is in proximity to all employment centers to provide attractive, affordable housing for the generational turnover. Community leaders are also working diligently to affect a town center design plan that will greatly enhance community assets and serve as a retail-commercial-cultural nucleus for this predominantly residential community.

520 Main Street
Windermere, Florida 34786
(407) 876-2563
Incorporated: 1925
Population: 2,300-plus
Millage: 3.228
Mayor: Gary Bruhn

For luxury living at its best, look no further than the town of Windermere. Pristine sand bottom lakes surround this small West Orange community. The largest lake, Lake Butler, is located on the west, Lake Down on the east and Lake Bessie on the southeast side of town. The boating enthusiast will revel in the system of canals that connects eight lakes known as the Butler Chain of Lakes. This chain of lakes makes waterfront living in Windermere a sight to see.

Windermere was bestowed its name from Dr. Stanley Scott, whose father purchased 160 acres in this picturesque location in 1885. Dr. Scott built his home on the shore of Lake Butler, and it is believed by many that he named this town after England’s famous Lake Windermere.

Windermere was mainly a resort area in the early 1900s. Many visitors built winter cabins to enjoy the local fishing. The 1920 census recorded the population of Windermere at 182. In 1925, the town was incorporated, thereby restricting its boundaries, and the census decreased to 153. Windermere also played a part in history during World War I. The ladies of the town would meet regularly during the war to make surgical dressings. This resulted in the formation of the “Windermere Women’s Club.” In 1927, their clubhouse was moved to its present location in the center of town and is now the town hall. Today, Windermere is a quaint architectural mixture ranging from cabins to estate homes with sand roads to preserve the town’s chain of lakes and its history.

Today, more than 2,300 people inhabit the Town of Windermere. The community, however, has not based its success on how rapidly it grows, but on how natural and pleasant a community in which it is to reside. Windermere tries to focus on preserving the town’s natural state and strong community atmosphere. The town’s quality of life is its most distinguishing feature. In fact, many of the town streets remain unpaved to continue their commitment to retain the pristine nature of the Chain of Lakes. Windermere has been named “Tree City USA” for its commitment to a natural environment for 10 consecutive years. For luxury living in a small-town atmosphere, look no further than the Town of Windermere, where there is “Luxury Living with a Small-Town Charm.”

300 West Plant Street
Winter Garden, Florida 34787
(407) 656-4111
Incorporated: 1903
Population: 30,987
Millage: 3.75
Mayor: John Rees

Fondly referred to as a modern-day Mayberry, USA by residents, Winter Garden is becoming a destination…only without pretense. Stroll down West Plant Street in the Historic Downtown District and be a part of the renaissance of a warm, vibrant community. Art studios and live theatre, bicycle stores and eclectic shops and a wide range of award-winning restaurants flank the West Orange Trail.

Winter Garden feels like home. It is a town that exudes warmth and energy, with a down-home charm that makes everyone feel comfortable. It is a place for growing families and businesses. It is a place to relax and unwind. It is a forward-thinking community that embraces new ideas and people. The city is a greenhouse for entrepreneurs. Come and see why Winter Garden is blooming.

From bungalows to art deco, antebellum to modern, architectural styles abound in Winter Garden, with a place that is sure to feel like home. For the environmentally conscious, homebuyers may select a home in Oakland Park, which is “green with pride” and the first certified green community in central Florida.

Orange County Public School District operates five elementary schools, one middle school, one technical school and one high school within municipal boundaries. Yet, educational possibilities are expanded with a myriad of education and cultural opportunities available in Winter Garden. Valencia Community College, West Campus is just a few minutes away from downtown.

The Garden Theatre
The recently restored 1930s era Garden Theatre is located in the heart of the Winter Garden Historic Downtown District. This performing arts center houses live theatre, ballet, orchestra and musicals, all now easily accessible to residents of West Orange County and right in their backyard.

The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation operates two museums in Winter Garden. The Heritage Museum, located at the corner of Plant Street and Main Street, houses an extensive collection of more than 5,000 artifacts documenting the area’s past. The Central Florida Railroad Museum on North Boyd Street showcases the influence the railroad has had in the development of Florida.

The Heritage Foundation produces MusicFest —an annual, free three-day celebration featuring more than 20 genres of music. The Winter Garden Rotary Club brings the Orlando Philharmonic to Winter Garden each year for an Evening at the Pops. Live music is featured every Friday night at the gazebo in downtown.

As with most communities founded in the early 1900s of rural Florida, Winter Garden’s economy relied heavily on agriculture. A year-round growing season and fertile soil enabled the production of fruits and vegetables, and rail provided direct transportation routes to northern markets, making the local orange groves Florida’s gold. As central Florida’s economy moved toward tourism, Winter Garden’s proximity to Orlando and the Walt Disney property made it an ideal spot for growth.

The city has embarked upon an aggressive economic development strategy to create business and job opportunities in many different areas. This strategy builds upon the determination to maintain the community’s identity while growing the economy. The city has become a greenhouse for small businesses and entrepreneurs drawn by the small-town charm and high quality of life appeal.

The West Orange Trail system is intertwined throughout the western sector of Orange County and boasts biking, walking, hiking and equestrian trails, adding another dimension to this unique community. Running through the heart of the Winter Garden Historic Downtown District, trail enthusiasts may stop for coffee or a cool drink at one of the many cafes. Events such as MusicFest, Spring Fever in the Garden, Evening at the Pops, Downtown Merchant’s Art Festival, Light Up Winter Garden and the Party in the Park 4th of July Celebration are held every year. For those that consider shopping a form of play, Winter Garden Village is a shopper’s haven.

The Pavilion will be Winter Garden’s newest downtown public space. Design is complete and construction is scheduled to begin in August 2010 for completion in spring 2011. This new venue will be the permanent home for the Farmers’ Market, community events, open-air concerts and festivals, becoming downtown’s largest gathering place. When not in use, the uncovered brick area will be used for public parking.

Winter Garden is a charming little city with a juicy past.

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