Imagine Mayberry meets To your health: Tree-lined streets provide shade for people walking their dogs, playing sports, visiting restaurants and businesses, or going to work. People greet each other by name and have many smiles. But this is not a sitcom. This is Avalon Park, an integrated, all-inclusive community that embodies the New Urban movement.
The distinctive style, introduced locally in 1994 when construction began for Celebration, evokes a small American town with hospitable porches, businesses and restaurants within walking distance, and public meeting places.
“I come from a very small town in upstate New York, near Albany. This was what my husband and I were looking for – camaraderie. It has it all, ”says longtime resident Peggy Wilson, founding member of the Avalon Park Jetsetters over 55 community. Wilson recalls the public support she received after the fifth bypass surgery: “People came out of the wooden structures and offered to do something for me.”
Development on the 1,860-acre area along the Alafaya South Trail in Orlando began in 1998. Today, the 12,868-member community has 2,447 single-family homes, 1,168 apartment buildings and 90 businesses located in a town square called Founders’ Square, which serves as a vibrant center for social events. The Econlockhatchee River runs along the sides of the area, which boasts three parks, soccer fields, public pools, and 16 miles of trails.
With an average age of 32, the area is a paradise for young families. Its three public schools – Avalon Elementary, Avalon Middle, and Timber Creek High – are A-rated, and its YMCA center is home to Central Florida’s largest youth sports program, according to Stephanie Larrett, director of public affairs and marketing for the Avalon Park Group.
But pensioners also feel at home here. In 1999, Jim Collazo bought one of the community’s first houses. “I live right across the street from the fountain in Founders Square. I love being in the center of the action here, ”he says, having breakfast with a friend at Nuno’s Café.
“There are a significant number of people who were in this first group and are still living here,” notes Larret, who also lives in the town house. “They either stayed in their home, or moved to a city house, or to another type of housing. This is a community building model, ”she says.
The median household income in Avalon Park is $ 95,492 and house prices averaged $ 369,000. “There is a type of housing for any type of income,” Lerre continues. “If you finish high school here and go to college, you will move into an apartment. Then you go to the town house. Then you move into a private house and then you move downstairs. In time, you will move to a retirement home. ”
Construction of the Encore 55-Plus, a 400-unit condominium for senior citizens, will begin this year. The boutique hotel and Olympic-size pool will be among the amenities in common with the existing Encore at Avalon Park Assisted Living and Memory Care Center, Lerre said.
Everything in the area is within walking distance or a short drive from the city’s business district with its shops, restaurants and businesses. To meet the needs of people who work from home, the Innovation Center is located on the 5th floor, where meeting rooms and workplaces can be rented. During the pandemic, the city center flourished as a result of so many people working from home and needing an outlet, Lerre said.
Business owner Te Hardy opened the Chill Pop Lounge right before the pandemic and enjoyed the support of residents and other business owners alike. “All the business owners got together and planned the sidewalk events,” she says. “We send each other to restaurants. We got together and said, “We will succeed if we stick together.” And that’s what we did, ”she adds.
As people emerge from the pandemic, they seem to be striving for greater community, according to Millie Nieves-Brockmeier, broker and owner of RE / MAX Innovation. “I think people want to see other people and be around them. They want a family-oriented neighborhood. ”
And according to Hardy, that’s what they’ll find in Avalon Park. “It’s like the Norman Rockwell world,” she says.