Orange County leaders scrap plan to move offices to Maguire Boulevard near fashion square mall from the depths of Downtown Orlando, county never renegotiated the deal.
By Jacob Engels
After months of dragging their feet, the Orange County Commission announced Wednesday that they would not be moving forward with the purchase of several office buildings meant to house the Orange County Tax Collector’s office & Property Appraisers office, citing costly renovations and repairs discovered during a recent inspection.
This decision will leave the Tax Collector & Property Appraisers office located in the hard to reach Downtown Orlando Suntrust building, where it is located on one of the top floors and requires residents to fight for parking and navigate the traffic mess that is Downtown Orlando to handle important matters with the two county agencies.
The Maguire option would have shared FREE & PLENTIFUL parking with the Fashion Square Mall, and would have been an improvement from the Suntrust location on many levels. It also, would have been significantly cheaper to maintain than the pricey sky-rise Suntrust office.
Property appraiser Rick Singh campaigned heavily on moving out of the Suntrust building, but as soon as Randolph proposed the Maguire option, Singh came out publicly against the move – contradicting his previous campaign promise. Sources tell the East Orlando Post that Singh utilized taxpayer money to hire a hot-shot communications professional to carefully craft his talking points surrounding the move, to make sure his vision of a downtown government campus & disdain for the Maguire option were well known. We plan on following up with more on this front.
Singh, who has recently held several lavish events – including the State of Real Estate for Orange County, doesn’t seem to be shy to spending taxpayer money to further his goals and office.
On the decision by the county to nix the Maguire option, Tax Collector Scott Randolph released this statement.
“While it’s unfortunate that this location did not work out, our office worked closely with the county during this routine due diligence process and the groundwork has been laid for when our office eventually moves out of the SunTrust tower.
Our office will continue to be active in finding the right solution and will not sit on the sidelines while others criticize the efforts to better serve taxpayers. Government cannot run effectively when one does not follow through on their commitments, so I will continue my commitment to look for solutions that provide the best services at the best value.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Maguire location would have needed air-conditioning & roofing fixes following the inspection from the county. Would these fixes have been cheaper than the exorbitant rent at the Suntrust location in Downtown Orlando? One has to wonder, which option would have been cheaper….we will never know.
Keep your ear to the ground, we will have more information on that & more in the next 24-48 hours, as we further investigate this matter & issue public records requests.
At this point, the county has to decide – do they renegotiate the Maguire option and give it a fair shake? Or do they keep playing hardball, throwing taxpayer money down the drain for a costly and inaccessible office space in the heart of Downtown Orlando traffic?
And when will Rick Singh make good on his campaign promise to vacate the costly Suntrust building? First he is for it, now he is against it. Which one is it Rick, what’s your option?
UPDATE – Orange County Tax Collector’s office spokeswoman Amy Ritter confirmed that the county has rescinded the termination letter after the seller agreed to pay for the roofing & AC in the proposed Maguire buildings.
“The deal is back on for now, both parties having already submitted construction & space planning documents,” Ritter told us Thursday afternoon.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org