Photo: Paul Hennessy / Newscom
Central Florida Roundup
Buddy Dyer's next political move
Under a bright blue sky in early January, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer stood on the steps of City Hall, beaming down at more than 40 same-sex couples whom he had just married on the first full day of legal gay marriage in Florida. "You may seal your marriage with a kiss," Dyer said amid applause.
It was a picture-perfect moment for central Florida's highest-profile public official, who is also the subject of the most interesting question in Orlando politics: What will Dyer do next?
Dyer, a 56-year-old Democrat, says he plans to run for re-election one more time next year, which would be his fourth full term. But he also says that spring 2016 campaign will likely be his last — at least at the municipal level.
As mayor, Dyer has overseen the revitalization of downtown Orlando, with a thicket of new condo towers and sparkling new public venues, including a performing arts center and a basketball arena. That record has prompted Democratic strategists across Florida to begin talking up Dyer as a possible candidate for governor or U.S. senator.
But Dyer also has something of a mug shot problem. He was indicted in 2005 on an election fraud charge and suspended from office. The charge was dropped, and Dyer was reinstated 40 days later. But the arrest provides a potentially devastating line of attack to use against someone who is virtually unknown outside of central Florida.
Dyer says he's confident he would still be a strong statewide candidate. But partly because of the indictment, some of his closest political advisers predict he will ultimately pass on such a race. Some Democrats expect him instead to work for whoever becomes the Democratic nominee for president in hopes of landing a Cabinetlevel post.
And the mayor's allies have more recently begun floating a third possibility: President of the University of Central Florida. Dyer has been working closely with UCF President John Hitt, 74, on plans to build a campus in downtown Orlando.
Dyer says he is not actively seeking a job that isn't yet available. But he also adds that if Hitt should retire, the UCF presidency "is something I would consider."
DELAND — A partnership between Blue Rock Partners of Tampa and Konover South of Deerfeld Beach bought a 224- unit apartment complex called Madison Carrington Place for $14.3 million.
KISSIMMEE — Visitors Flea Market fled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Federal regulators gave preliminary approval to a new Interstate 4 ramp that will deposit drivers directly into a new parking garage at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs retail complex.
LONGWOOD — Construction is under way on a 208-unit apartment complex across the street from the city’s SunRail Station, with completion expected by February 2016. > Camden Property Trust sold the 436-unit Camden Club apartment complex for $51.5 million.
MAITLAND — The city annexed 49 acres from Orange County, adding an existing apartment complex and property where a mixed-use development is planned.
MALABAR — The Florida Department of Transportation completed a three-year, $51.7-million widening of a 12.5-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in southern Brevard County near the Indian River County line.
ORANGE COUNTY — Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says deputy sheriffs will begin wearing body cameras next year. > Darden Restaurants lost $32.8 million during the third quarter, and new management warned that it still has a “long way” to go in revitalizing the Orlando-based company, whose brands include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.
> SeaWorld Orlando plans to close a nearly 6-year-old attraction called “A’Lure, the Call of the Ocean” as part of a costcutting effort imposed by its parent company, Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment. The marine park also cut mime and pearl-diving acts. > The SunRail commuter train system added evening service in part to capture traffic sparked by the Orlando Magic basketball team and Orlando’s new Dr. Phillips performing arts venue. > Sun Communities of Michigan bought seven mobile-home communities around central Florida for $257 million. > The developers of the Avalon Park community will open a $16.5-million, 90- unit senior-living and memorycare facility.
ORLANDO — Amid lobbying from taxi operators, the city council imposed new regulations on ride services Uber and Lyft, though representatives for the companies remain opposed to the changes. > Orlando Bike Share, a startup affliated with Cylcehop of Miami Beach, launched a bicycle-sharing service downtown. > Tavistock Development, the developer of the Lake Nona community, struck a deal with Crystal Lagoons to build an 11-acre lagoon. Tavistock says the manmade lake, which will be built as part of a new luxury resort development near a U.S. Tennis Association training center, is the largest “mega-lagoon” planned in the country. > Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ U.S. and France operations, plans to retire June 1. Crofton was president of Walt Disney World from 2006-11.
OSCEOLA COUNTY — Skanska won a contract worth up to $10 million to do the preliminary design for a proposed advanced manufacturing research center.
SEMINOLE COUNTY — Commissioners voted to create a registry of foreclosed properties, in an effort to ensure banks and other lenders maintain the properties.
WINTER GARDEN — The Orlando Solar Bears minor league hockey team filed plans with the city to build a new practice facility that would have two ice rinks and an activity center. The team currently leases time at an ice rink at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland.
WINTER PARK — Florida Blue parent company GuideWell opened an 18-room clinic.
> Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed Jay Madara and Shawn "Michael" Scheeringa to the Central Florida Expressway Authority, a newly created regional toll road agency. Madara is CFO of the Golf Channel, and Scheeringa is president and CEO of BBA Aviation Flight Support.
> Ellyn Tauscher, a former Democratic member of Congress from California, and William Gray, former co-CEO of marketing agency Ogilvy North America, joined the board of Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment.
Prelude to Manned Flights
NASA’s new Orion spacecraft blasted off from Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 5, successfully completing its first test flight — a 4½-hour journey in which it soared more than 3,000 miles into space and then splashed down into the Pacific Ocean. NASA hopes to eventually use the new space capsule, which was loaded onto a Delta IV heavy rocket for its maiden voyage, to resume manned space flights, which the agency ended in 2011 when it retired the space shuttle. NASA’s long-term goal is to use Orion to send astronauts to Mars.