You have chosen one of the best regions in the nation in which to consider living! Orlando and all of Central Florida is one the fastest growing Metropolitan areas in America – a region of dynamic business growth, rich in diversity, education, cultural offerings and natural amenities that add up to an enviable quality of life.
Premium Properties is committed to making your move as smooth as possible. We will provide you with an experienced real estate agent who knows Orlando and surrounding areas and who will keep your requirements and interests a top priority. We will work around your schedule!
On our website, you will find information on schools, employment, local government, local news and weather, shopping, healthcare and much more. We have also included important links and telephone numbers to utilities and service providers to help you get settled in.
We have three convenient locations in Central Florida to serve you. Our main office is located just minutes from Orlando International Airport, very convenient if you’re flying into town to preview homes! Our Lake Nona office is located on Narcoossee Road in the Cornerstone at Lake Hart Publix Plaza, the area’s largest and most popular shopping destination. Our Winter Springs office is located on Highway 434 in the heart of Seminole County ready to assist you with your real estate needs in the popular and growing Oviedo/Winter Springs area.
In addition, the full-time Orlando relocation coordinator, brokers, and agents at Premium Properties have access to the Employee Relocation Council, a leading edge, Internet-based referral system capable of accessing a worldwide network of professionals who are dedicated to helping people relocate every day!
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Apopka City Hall
Apopka City Hall
Annual Zellwood Corn Festival
Zellwood Corn Festival
Apopka’s Foliage Industry
Apopka’s Foliage Industry
Apopka’s roots, literally and figuratively, are in agriculture. However, this booming city of 35,000, located in the northwest corner of Orange County, now encompasses some of the region’s most exclusive addresses.
Since 1990, Apopka has more than doubled its area by annexing some 11,000 acres, much of it previously rural land. This land grab has often out the city at odds with Orange County, especially when it comes to protecting and preserving the fragile Wekiva River basin. In fact, the city has purchased another 48 acres to expand its downtown, although a developer has not yet been selected.
Apopka was settled in the 1840s and named after the Timucuan Indian word meaning “big potato” or “potato eating place.” Ironically, the farms that still surround the city grow just about everything but potatoes.
Noted as “The Indoor Foliage Capital of the World,” Apopka’s foliage industry is a multimillion-dollar business. Consequently, downtown boasts a stainless steel sculpture of a Boston fern instead of the expected war hero or early pioneer. Cut flowers, blooming plants, roses and bulbs are also grown in abundance.
But agriculture is rapidly vanishing as dozens of muck farms, created when Lake Apopka was diked during World War II, are purchased and shut down in an effort to restore the polluted body of water to a pristine state.
And Apopka is going high-tech, installing a citywide wireless Internet system. The $2.5 million project is expected to be completed within a year.
Just west of Apopka is the agricultural town of Zellwood, home of the annual Zellwood Corn Festival. The event, held each May for more than 30 years, draws thousands to hear country music and enjoy what is widely regarded as the sweetest corn grown anywhere.
Orlando’s College Park
Princeton Elementary School
College Park Publix
College Park Publix
Edgewater Drive Shopping District
Retirees so dominated Orlando’s College Park in the early 1970s that there was a talk of closing Princeton Elementary, a well-regarded school that had stood since the neighborhood was platted in the 1920s.
Today, although the demographics may be changing, much about this beloved Orlando neighborhood remains the same. The 80-year-old commercial district along Edgewater Drive has always been home to an array of delightful mom-and-pop shops and eclectic eateries. The streets have always been quiet and the homes are well kept and charming.
So protective are College Park residents of their neighborhood that they banded together to protest the removal of circa-1950s sign adorning the local Publix supermarket. The grocery chain quickly dropped its plans and restored the sign to its original Eisenhower-age splendor.
Much of the talk in College Park these days is over mixed-use condominium, office and retail developments such as the Wellesley, a five-story, $48 million project on the corner of Edgewater and Princeton Avenue, in the heart of the community’s Mayberryesque main drag.
Maitland Business Center Office Park
Maitland Business Center
Maitland Center Art Center
Residences at Ravinia
Since the 1960s, Maitland has been a quintessential bedroom community. Some of the area’s first suburbs were built there to attract young families looking for large lawns and good schools.
In the late 1970s a sprawling office park called Maitland Center was built near the I-4 interchange, giving the city a distinctive business identity as well. The 190-acre development contains a hotel, 45 office buildings, and 400 businesses. More than 12,000 people are employed there.
Another big project that promises to give Maitland’s somewhat nebulous downtown district a more cohesive look is Broad Street Partners’ Ravinia, a seven-story retail and condominium development.
Also underway is Uptown Maitland East, a retail and condominium project, and North Bridge, a commercial office project that will sit across from Ravinia. Both are being developed by Naples-based Red Robin Realty.
Meanwhile, Maitland Town Square has been given new life as well. The original developer backed out, but The Brossier Company has stepped in to negotiate with the city on taking over the project, which would include a city hall and a public safety complex in addition to condominiums and retail space. Tentative plans call for more than 200,000 square feet of office space, 250,000 square feet of retail space, 600 residential units, a 150-room hotel, a movie theater and parks.
And on the south side of downtown, The Morgan Group plans to build The Village at Lake Lily, a nine-acre, mixed-use project encompassing condominiums, apartments and 45,000 square feet of retail space.
Clearly, Maitland can only be described as a thoroughly modern place. Yet it has actually been in existence longer than most Central Florida communities.
I was established in 1838 as Fort Maitland, named in honor of Capt. William S. Maitland, a hero of the Second Seminole War. In 1880, the railroad from Sanford arrived, sparking a tourism boom that lasted until freezes in the 1890s disenchanted visitors.
In 1937 sculptor AndrŽ Smith founded the Mayan themed Art Center in Maitland, which was originally intended to be a compound where artists could live and work. The center, now listed on the National Register of Historic Place, feature an open-air chapel that has become a popular location for weddings.
Today Maitland is home to the Enzian Theater, the region’s only art-house cinema and the setting for the annual Florida Film Festival. And two large art festivals are held in Maitland: one in October, sponsored by the Maitland Rotary Club, and one in April, sponsored by the Maitland/South Seminole Chamber of Commerce.
The Florida Audubon Society was founded in Maitland, and its headquarters, including the bird hospital, remain on Lake Sybellia.
West Oaks Mall
West Oaks Mall
Ocoee Founder’s Day Festival
Founder’s Day Festival
Ocoee High School
Ocoee High School
Ocoee remained an isolated citrus town isolated around Starke Lake until the 1980s. Now, with 29,000+ residents, it has edged ahead of Winter Park to become the third-largest city in Orange County, behind Orlando and Apopka.
The transformation began two decades ago, when devastating freezes destroyed thousands of acres of citrus trees and opened West Orange and south lake counties for development. Today, Ocoee boasts a 1-million-square-foot regional mall and at least two dozen new subdivisions with home is all price ranges.
Ocoee’s beginnings were inauspicious. In the mid-1850s a physician named J.D. Starke led a group of slaves into the area and established a camp along the western shores of the lake that now bears his name. Capt. Bluford Sims, who hailed from Ocoee, Tennessee arrived in 1861 and bought 50 acres from Starke. He then platted what would become downtown Ocoee.
Through the years, Ocoee developed into a thriving citrus-producing center. Today, however, housing is the city’s hottest commodity. The Florida Turnpike, the East-West Expressway and a new Western Beltway all pass through the city, meaning once-remote downtown Orlando is now just a 15-minute commute.
Despite its growth, Ocoee has managed to preserve its past. The annual Fouders Day celebration, for example, starts with a parade ands ends with fireworks. And those who want to soak up a little more local color may tour the Withers-Maguire House, once a winter refuge for a Confederate general and now a museum.
Also of interest is the is the circa-1890 Ocoee Christian Church, with its gothic architecture and Belgian-made stained glass windows, as well as several vintage commercial buildings in the original downtown are.
New residential development is focused on the northwest side, along the S.R. 429 corridor. A new community center and senior center are planned for the area, while a new high school, appropriately named Ocoee High School, opened in 2006.
Lake Eola Downtown Orlando
Lake Eola – Downtown
Concept of New Downtown Arena for Orlando Magic
Downtown Arena Concept
Florida Citrus Bowl
Florida Citrus Bowl
Concept of Florida Hospital Downtown Orlando
During the building frenzy in 2005, scarcely a week passed without another major condominium project being announced for once-sleepy downtown Orlando. Sometimes, those same developments would announce quick sellouts as buyers swooped in to drop down deposits.
Now, reality has taken hold and the pace has slowed. Yet, despite a softening market, more than 30 projects are either planned, under construction or recently finished. That means roughly 7,000 condominium units are in the pipeline, along with more than 1 million square feet of office space.
And on the fringes of downtown, huge expansions at Florida Hospital and Orlando Regional Medical Center are under way, while Florida A&M University’s law school and a new federal courthouse were completed in 2006.
Along Central Boulevard, at the bustling mixed-use complex known as Thornton Park Central, the day begins when gourmet-trendy Central City Market opens for breakfast.
Next door, Shari Sushi Lounge attracts a glittery lunch and evening crowd, while the spacious Urban Think! Bookstore offers in-the-know readers a gallery-bistro hangout.
And at the corner, trendy Hue remains one of the hottest dining spots in town, especially during its monthly “Disco Brunches,” when the restaurant’s self-serve Bloody Mary bar draws long lines and the retro sounds of Donna Summer fill the street.
And all that barely covers just one neighborhood in Orlando’s dynamic downtown corridor.
Of course, there are residential options downtown aside from new condominiums.
The charming old neighborhoods ringing the city have been gentrifying since the late 1980s. While Thornton Park is perhaps the highest-profile example, property values are also soaring in the city’s other designated historic districts, including Lake Eola Heights, Lake Lawsona, Lake Cherokee and Lake Copeland.
As builders build and buyers buy, city officials are looking for ways to boost downtown arts and entertainment options while enhancing pedestrian-friendly transportation systems and attracting a greater variety of businesses.
A huge step in that direction was taken in September 2006, when city and county leader announced a deal that would bring downtown a new arena for the NBA’s Orlando Magic, a state-of-the-art performing arts center and a facelift for the Citrus Bowl, the city’s 70-year-old football stadium. The three buildings with a combined price tag of more than $1 billion would be financed by a combination of tax dollars and private donations.
University of Central Florida
Southeast Orlando’s Lake Nona
Florida Hospital East Orlando
Florida Hospital East
Central Florida Research Park
At roughly 100 square miles, the region generally referred to as southeast Orlando encompasses the University of Central Florida, Orlando International Airport and an array of master planned communities, as well as stretches of pastureland, piney forests and wetlands abutting the Econlockhatchee River.
But the remaining rural areas are rapidly vanishing as the pace of growth accelerates. Today the southeast sector, which includes portions of the city of Orlando as well as unincorporated Orange County, is home to more than 200,000 people, with more arriving every day.
With this explosive growth, however, have come challenges. Chief among them: building enough roads, schools and healthcare facilities to keep pace. And although some developers are working with local governments to expand roads and construct new schools, there is also a new movement afoot to form a new municipality in the county’s unincorporated eastern region.
The southeast sector was the fastest growing part of Orange County between 1990 and 2000. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the area’s population grew by more than 81 percent, to 164,000, during the decade. At more than 200,000 people and roughly 65,000 households, southeast Orlando today boasts a larger population than the city proper.
Much of the growth has come in the form of large, master-planned communities that contain a mixture of single-family and multifamily homes clustered around retail and commercial development.
Nestled amid a transportation network that includes the Beachline Expressway, the Central Florida GreeneWay, and the East-West Expressway, southeast Orlando’s growth should be no surprise.
The location factor is enhanced by the area’s environmental and recreational offerings, beginning with the Econ River and the Hall Scott Regional Preserve and Park. Then there is the area’s varied employment base, encompassing everything from higher education and defense contractors to the simulation industry and healthcare.
Top southeast Orlando employers include UCF, Central Florida Research Park, Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp., Lockheed Martin, Florida Hospital East Orlando, Orlando International Airport and Waterford Lakes Town Center.
Tavistock Group, the developer of upscale Lake Nona, has been particularly aggressive in promoting commercial and job growth in southeast Orlando.
Those efforts were bolstered in March 2006 when the state university system’s board of governors approved UCF’s plans for a new medical school. Now the university can break ground on its Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences, which will rise on land donated by Tavistock.
In addition, the Burnham Institute, a California-based medical research lab, has announced plans to locate a satellite facility at Lake Nona. The project is expected to generate hundreds of high-paying jobs.
Tying much of the growth together will be Innovation Way, a 5.5 mile stretch of roadway that will run from Avalon Park Boulevard and the UCF area to the Beachline and the entrance to ICP. The long-term vision is the creation of a high-tech corridor along which homes and businesses would cluster.
The first leg of Innovation Way is expected to be completed in 1-2 years, although plans call for it to eventually be extended further southwest, past the Beachline, to the GreeneWay and Narcoossee Road, then straight into Orlando International Airport.
Windermere – Nestled among the Butler Chain-of-Lakes
Among the Lakes
Windermere Town Hall
Windermere Town Hall
Exclusive Isleworth Golf Community
Isleworth Golf Community
Keene’s Pointe Golf Course
Nestled among the spring-fed Butler Chain of Lakes, the cozy Town of Windermere, population 2,300, has emerged as the region’s new-money address of choice.
With Lake Butler on the west, Lake Down on the east and Lake Bessie on the southeast, Windermere is a verdant peninsula where 317 of 837 homes are on the water. Windermere, or at least the area surrounding it, is also home to some of Central Florida’s most upscale new communities.
But although they advertise Windermere addresses, most of these ritzy developments aren’t technically in Windermere, much to the chagrin of some locals who object to the alleged misappropriation of the town’s proud name.
In fact, Windermere itself is just is just 689 acres and consists largely of a laid-back retail district with a few mom-and-pop stores with a scattering of older homes lining sandy streets. Those streets remain unpaved to discourage traffic and prevent runoff from damaging the Butler Chain, which consists of eight pristine lakes connected by a canal system.
The lakes attracted one of Windermere’s first investors, Joseph Hill Scott. Scott’s son, Stanley, homesteaded the property and supposedly named it after Lake Windermere in England.
The railroad connected Windermere and Kissimmee in 1889, but freezes in 1894 and 1895 destroyed the town’s citrus industry. Little changed until 1910, when a pair of Ohio investors named D.H. Johnson and J. Calvin Palmer bought all the land they could piece together and formed the Windermere Improvement Company for the purpose of developing it.
The pair promoted “Beautiful Lakes of Pure Spring Water” and aimed their marketing at moneyed Northerners.
Although few who live here want to see the town change significantly, Windermere city officials are making concessions to the growth surrounding it. In 2006 the town completed a $2.5 million public works project – the largest in its history – to revamp the downtown area, bricking three blocks of Main and Frontage streets, expanding parking lots, replacing stop signs with roundabouts and generally upgrading its appearance.
And developer Kevin Azzouz, who in 2003 purchased much of the property in the business district, has talked about creating a town center, much to the consternation of those who like downtown’s unpretentious combination of shabby and chic. In fact, at this writing, Azzouz and city officials remain at odds over the proposed project.
Plant Street – Downtown Winter Garden
Downtown – Plant Street
West Orange Trail
West Orange Trail
It was 1857 when Becky Roper Stafford’s great-great-grandfather first glimpsed at Lake Apopka. W.C. Roper was riding through the backwoods of west Orange County on horseback, seeking a place to build a home for his family waiting back in Merriwether County, GA.
Roper bought 600 acres along the shore, between present-day Winter Garden and Oakland, and returned a year later with his wife and 10 children. The ambitious settler operated a sawmill, gristmill, sugar mill and cotton gin. Later he built a tannery for making shoes, and served as Orange County’s superintendent of schools from 1873 to 1877.
Fast-forward to the 1920s, when Roper’s son Frank planted the area’s first orange trees, making the humble beginnings of an industry that would sustain and define Winter Garden, which had been incorporated in 1903, for the next six decades.
Fast-forward again to the 1980s, when devastating freezes destroyed thousands of acres of citrus. Roper Growers Cooperative, Heller Brothers and Louis Dreyfus Citrus eventually recovered. But as growers regrouped or retreated, once-bustling downtown Winter Garden became a virtual ghost town.
Concurrently, developers began buying up decimated groves for new homes, creating new subdivisions seemingly overnight. But most of the residential growth, and the retail growth that followed, was outside the city, which made Winter Garden proper even more of an anachronism.
Then came a brilliant project called Rails to Trails, through which abandoned rail beds across the country were converted into hiking and biking trails.
The popular West Orange Trail passes directly through Winter Garden, thus converting the all-but-forgotten city into an oasis for thousands of ready-to-spend strollers. In fact, city officials estimate that the trail is responsible for generating about 50,000 downtown visitors per month.
And most are charmed by what they see. In 2001 the tired downtown district underwent a facelift. Brick streets were restored, old buildings were remodeled, and Centennial Fountain, saluting the city’s citrus-growing heritage, was constructed.
And locals proudly note that Winter Garden has two historical museums open seven days a week. There’s the Central Florida Railroad Museum and the Heritage Museum, both housed in restored depots. History buffs may also stroll around the city and view such landmarks as the 1860s-era Beulah Baptist Church.
And redevelopment is on a roll: Stafford is hard at work with the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation to renovate to historic Garden Theater on Plant Street, which will become a 300-sear performing arts center.
While the old downtown is re-emerging as a force to be reckoned with, several miles south a 1.15-million-square-foot open-air mall called Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves is set to open soon. More than 40 new home communities are currently under way within Winter Garden’s city limits. And the city plans to annex a large tract of mostly undeveloped land from its western boundary south of Florida’s Turnpike to the Lake County line. The tract contains 1,300 developable acres that could eventually contain 3,600 homes.
To the south of downtown, along C.R. 535 and S.R. 545, communities totaling 25,000 homes are expected to be built where citrus groves once flourished.
The biggest of the new developments is Horizon West, a 38,000-acre master-planned community that has been in the planning stages for a decade. At buildout, its two villages – Bridgewater and Lakeside – will contain nearly 18,000 homes.
Park Avenue Downtown Winter Park
Park Avenue – Downtown
Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival
Sidewalk Art Festival
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
Morse Art Museum
Once a haven for artists, writers and some of the most influential families in the country, Winter Park was promoted in the late 1800s as a refuge for “the cultured and wealthy.” Those early boosters would almost certainly be pleased to see how it all turned out.
Today, the city is home to 70 parks and nearly as many oak trees (20,000) as residents (24,090). Its eight square miles encompasses lovely old homes, an upscale shopping district, a prestigious liberal arts college, a plethora of galleries and museums and street signs that admonish motorists to “drive with extraordinary care.”
The heart of Winter Park is Park Avenue, stretching 10 blocks and boasting more than 100 shops, from upscale national retailers to one-of-a-kind boutiques. The Avenue, as locals call it, is a European-inspired thoroughfare featuring hidden courtyards, sidewalk cafés and a charming Central Park facing the storefronts.
In addition, the downtown shopping district has begun to spread west on New England Avenue as developer Dan Bellows builds posh apartments and retail stores in previously blighted areas.
On the south end of Park Avenue is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, showcasing the world’s largest collection of Tiffany glass. Each Christmas a set of priceless, holiday-themed Tiffany windows are moved to Central Park, where they are displayed as part of the city’s seasonal festivities.
Several blocks farther west is Winter Park Village, a red-hot retail and entertainment center on U.S. 17-92. New condominiums are available in the Village, which attracts a generally younger crowd than Park Avenue and has emerged as one of Central Florida’s most popular see-and-be-seen destinations.
Year-round the city is alive with festivals and special events, from the Sidewalk Art Festival, drawing more than 250,000 guests each spring, to the Exotic Car Show and assorted celebrations in Central Park.
On the shores of Lake Virginia, beautiful Rollins College, the oldest institution of higher education in Florida and one of the top-rated private liberal arts colleges in the country, is home to the Cornell Fine Arts Museum and the internationally renowned Bach Festival Choir.
Incongruous as it may sound, Winter Park also hosts a Saturday morning farmers’ market, where visitors can buy everything from fresh produce to houseplants and crafts.
High-end condos account for most new residential construction in Winter Park. More than 500 apartments, condos and hotel rooms are either under construction or moving through the approval process.
To see Winter Park as it should be seen, shell out five bucks and take a guided tour along the Winter Park Chain of Lakes. Scenic Boat Tours, headquartered at Dinky Dock near Rollins College, has been cruising these canals since 1938, offering regular folks a chance to peek into the backyards of the rich and occasionally famous.