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Council watch

Billy Manes pays attention to city government so you don't have to

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And now for a more minor kvetch: For the first time in this storied event's 33-year history, it won't be known as the Florida Classic. Instead, it's the Blue Florida Classic, because Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida bought the goddamn naming rights, because we can't have anything anymore without an obnoxious corporate logo affixed to it.

Item: The city exercises an option to purchase property near Lake Eola from the Trust for Public Land.
Translation: A few years ago, back when all real estate was gold, a developer wanted to build a 15-story condo/retail thing on the east side of Lake Eola. The neighboring condo dwellers objected – won't somebody please think of their views? – and protested mightily. And so, right around the time of the real estate bust, the developer lost his appetite and agreed to sell the property to the California-based Trust for Public Land; the city paid $3 million of the $8.5 million purchase price in 2009. The Trust sat on the land until the city decided what to do with it, and after three years, the city had to vote on whether to buy it back (with the Trust's "absolutely not a threat" caveat that if the city declined, it would probably sell the 1.36-acre property to another developer who would build another mid-rise that would piss off the condo crowd). The Council voted 6-0 to shell out the cash, with newbie Commissioner Jim Gray, who looks like your high school principal and used to work for original developer Eola Capital, declaring a conflict of interest. Contrary to rumors, Dyer explained, the city has no desire to redevelop this property. Instead, it will eventually become an extension of Lake Eola Park. But if you have tens of thousands of dollars to spare, you can move one of the houses to your own lot. Yep, that's how we live now.

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