We own and operate HUE, Cityfish, Kres and Citrus. On average, we serve over 1,500 guests per day among the four restaurants. That’s over half a million guests that are coming downtown `in a year`. I understand the purpose of your article `“Don’t worry,” April 17` was to cast doubt on the venue financial plan. Such investigation may be justified by the current economic downturn, although I would argue that taking a skeptical view in a down market is not more or less responsible than taking an overly aggressive view in a boom time. Financial deals for public venues and revitalization of downtowns are taking place all over the country. Based on long-term averages and well-thought-out plans, these things are largely successful.

Craig Ustler, Orlando

Great thoughts `“Don’t worry,” April 17`. I hope the players in the article read it. They are using the same erroneous assumptions the subprime lenders and real estate appraisers used and look where that got us: Bear Stearns going Chapter 11 and Washington Mutual going belly-
up last week. Thanks for the clear thinking.

John, via the Internet

I’m the developer of two downtown condos – The Sanctuary and Star Tower – and the owner of two restaurants – Graze and Fifi’s. I wanted to touch base with you on your April 17 article `“Don’t worry”` on the downtown venues. Specifically I wanted to take issue with the following sentence: “The idea that city streets would be filled by young, creative, hip families living in 10,000 downtown condo units, eating in fancy restaurants and shopping at floor level retail shops is dead.”

I’d like to invite you to come down to the South Eola District some Sunday afternoon. The district runs from Summerlin Avenue on the east, Rosalind Street on the west, Robinson Street on the north and South Street on the south. If you come down, you’ll see the type of lifestyle that your article indicates is dead.

We’ll take a stroll through the Sunday Farmers Market at Lake Eola Park, where families and seniors are buying vegetables and flowers. After that, we can head past the Beacon. They have live music outside on Sundays and always pack a lively crowd of 30-somethings. Next door at Fifi’s, you’ll often find women doing bridal or baby showers. If the weather is nice, you’ll likely have to wait for a table. Next door at Graze, they just launched Sunday brunch, but it is already drawing a crowd. Business is bustling at Cityfish, Shari and Hue on Central Avenue, too.

Many of the people strolling the streets are living in downtown condos. The 173-unit Sanctuary is nearly sold out. Some of the residents include Magic players and coaches along with successful downtown attorneys, empty-nesters and seniors. I just opened Star Tower in November of last year. Out of 100 units, we’ve closed on 38. We have contracts for 26 more, but the potential buyers are struggling to secure a loan. The challenge in selling out the entire building isn’t demand for these condos, it is the credit crunch.

Downtown Orlando is becoming the envy of cities across the Southeast. This is not because of anything going on Orange Avenue or Church Street near I-4; it is because of the South Eola District. If you don’t draw the distinction for your readers, it simply isn’t giving your readers a clear picture of what is going on downtown.

Steve Kodsi, Orlando

Record store revival

You do a disservice to yourself `“The crate debate,” April 17`. I am at Park Ave CDs today `April 19, Record Store Day`. You cannot imagine the amount of people who are here and have been coming and going all day. Seems to me a professional writer who claims to be so jacked up about music would have found time to visit Park Ave today to see if there still is an interest in record stores. By the looks of today’s turnout it appears there are quite a few folks who still like talking to an informed employee about music, live and in person. Then again, you may actually have come out. Please be sure to say hello to some of the staff and customers while you are there.

Paul Giovanis, via the Internet

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