Milk District Named Orlando’s Newest ‘Main Street’

The City Council approved adding the Milk District to Orlando’s Main Streets program

Orlando’s newest “main street” has got milk. The City Council approved adding a 10th neighborhood to the city’s Main Streets program this week. It’s known as the Milk District, a community east of downtown with eclectic bars, shops, and performance spaces, and home to the original T.G. Lee dairy plant.

The program, which the city adopted in 2008, aims to promote economic growth and collaboration by providing the communities with financial assistance, technical support, and training.

“A lot of what we do is economic and business development, assisting small-business owners that either want to open a business in our main street, or relocate a business to our main street,” said Joanne Grant, executive director for the Mills 50 District.

In addition to approving the new district, the City Council renewed its agreements with all 10 districts in the program. The Milk District will receive $50,000 from the city during its first year, while the others get between $30,000 and $40,000.

The city’s official recognition of The Milk District comes about seven years after Tommy Barger, owner of Space Bar on Robinson Street, and other area business owners brainstormed a name for branding and marketing the neighborhood.

The name draws from the district’s history. Thomas Gilbert Lee launched his dairy there in the 1920s, and one of the milk producer’s processing plants still sits across Robinson Street from the strip that includes Space Bar and local mainstay Sportstown Billiards.

The Milk District is known for small, World War II-era houses and small bars. It is home to The Plaza Live, The Market on South, and Orlando Festival Park.

“We love the area, it’s a very diverse area and we want to keep it that way,” said Barger, who serves as president of The Milk District Board. “I think, in the grand scheme, that would be the main goal: keeping it kind of the way it is… a little edgy, a little weird.”

Orlando’s program is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street initiative. Participating districts operate as nonprofit organizations. Each has a full-time, salaried executive director, but they otherwise rely on volunteers.

“The goal of the main street is just to really get the neighborhood working together,” said Lisa Cuatt, executive director for the Thornton Park District.

The city’s other main streets include Audubon Park, College Park, Ivanhoe Village, Church Street, Gateway Orlando (a corridor along Semoran Boulevard in east Orlando), and Downtown South. The city also has a “digital main street,” dubbed the Orlando Tech Association.

According to the city, Orlando’s Main Streets program has drawn more than $1 billion in investments, helped establish 730 new businesses, and created nearly 4,500 full and part-time jobs since 2008.


Source: “Milk District named Orlando’s newest ‘main street’,” Orlando Sentinel