Archives For Economy

construction triptych 

January 8, 2017

I’ve been wanting to stop and photograph some of the on-going construction of Universal’s Volcano Bay before construction is finished and everything is buttoned down. I decided to run these series of photos with the Olympus E-M10 and the 14-140 Mark II. I moved the color JPEGs from the E-M10 to my iPad Pro 9.7″ and post processed them with Snapseed. I them moved them up to my blog with the WordPress app. Unfortunately I once again had to go into the browser-based WordPress editor to finish this entry. I’m pretty much done trying to edit with WordPress on either iPhone or iPad. Now it’s time to move on to some other tool.

This is the water park meant to open next year and to replace the old Wet ‘n Wild water park directly across Univeral at I-4. I have no idea how much more work needs to be done or if it’ll open 1 June 2017 as promised. The last time Universal tried to open a park on 1 June, it was Universal itself in 1990, and it didn’t go well. I was one of thousands of contractors trying to get it open and operational. I was a contractor with a company named Kinetix (long since gone) and I worked on Jaws, Quake, and E.T. Starting November 1989 I started working 12 hour days, six days/week, until March of 1990, and then we went to seven day weeks. On the afternoon of 31 May I walked into the park and worked a solid 34 hours until I left the morning of 2 June. It took almost a month for me to get back down to a normal work schedule. I’ve not worked a schedule that long and that intense since.

I’m curious to see what will transpire over the summer.

On the way home from an errand run I stopped at a major intersection close to home. A homeless man carrying a cardboard sign started to walk slowly down the road between two lanes of traffic. The driver immediate in front of me in the red car was on his cell phone. He eventually spotted the homeless man shuffling in his direction.

As the homeless man moved slowly down the line, looking back and forth for eye contact and any possible donation, the driver in the red car rolled up the window before our homeless man reached him…


I think our homeless man might have realized what had happened.
The main light turned green, the traffic started to move, and I waited while the homeless man crossed in front of me to the sidewalk.

another business gone

November 18, 2016

Don Pablo’s in general, and this one in particular, have been a staple of the family’s restaurant eating for as long as they’ve been in Orlando. I’ve literally watched them come into Orlando, and over the past ten years, since the start of the Great Recession, I’ve watched them leave one-by-one. This particular Don Pablo’s was on International Drive, and is the second to last to leave. The only other DP I know of is the one still open up in Sanford. Here’s the interesting sign taped to the front door.

Which begs the question of how this all went down. The last sentence is quite telling, as this indicates that not everybody knew this was coming.

Ever since the Great Recession started in 2006, the Orlando economy has been fragile, with “first mover” companies such as Don Pablo’s leaving behind behemoth buildings such as this one to be occupied multiple times by different businesses. The Don Pablo’s built over on University near UCF went through three different local bars (with the word Knight or Knights in the name) until it was finally bought and converted into a Buffalo Wild Wings sports bar. The Don Pablo’s next to West Oaks Mall had its interior built out into three long stores, one of which is out of business again. The architecture is distinctive enough that you can still recognize them dotting the landscape, just like the old Circuit City stores.

I used to write about this on my old blog. It would appear I may start writing about failing businesses again, especially with the election of Donald Trump.

queueing in line with my new knee

It’s been three weeks since my knee was replaced. During that period the incision has pretty much healed and most of the swelling has gone down. I can stand up straight without any aids, especially in a line like I did for lunch last Friday. I’d gone out for a late lunch after spending a good hour-and-a-half in physical training. While in PT I was measured at 110° flexibility. I was also able to (slowly) spin an a recumbent bike machine, with the bike seat back as far as it cold go. I’m going to start driving around the neighborhood this weekend, to see if I can drive around Orlando in general starting next week. Lots of personal achievements so I celebrated by going out to lunch with my wife at a local Pei Wei and having my usual, sesame chicken with brown rice.

While I was there I also noticed two stores next to the Pei Wei has closed. One of them, the first photo in the sequence below, was a Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. The second was some sort of exercise business. I felt worse about the Lime Fresh because that was my go-to comfort food place when I had my left knee replaced back in 2012.

former lime green another dead store

Life doesn’t stand still for a second. I don’t know why they closed, considering they both were located at the intersection of I-4 and Sand Lake Road, in a shopping center anchored by the only Whole Foods in south west Orlando, just a mile south of Universal Studios. In other words prime real estate and location. Our economy still has problems.

Weekend errands will occasionally include runs to the local pet store for pet supplies. Our dogs and cats are quite vocal when mealtime comes, so we make sure to have the basics on hand. Some of those food supplies used to come from Petco, where we purchase Royal Canin Puppy dry dog food for Annie the Doodle. Unfortunately, this Petco is going out of business. I spoke with one of the cashiers as we were checking out and was told that the store was being closed, not moved. Fortunately everyone there was offered a transfer to another Petco in the general area. But once this one is closed we’re going to have to find another store, however far away that is. I could (and have on occasion in the past) from Amazon, but I can only find the huge bags and when it’s delivered it’s always in a fairly crushed box, with the contents a bit worse for wear. I’d rather go purchase it locally and know what I’m getting before I pay.

This is the last major store in this shopping center. All the other stores have closed and moved out, such as this AT&T and Shoe Carnival…

… and this TJ Max. These stores were the secondary stores. The anchor store was a Super Target, which closed nearly four years ago in early 2012 and has stayed closed every since. I wrote about its closing in my old blog here.

Closed Super Target Exterior

These are not the only stores to close in this part of Orlando. On a section of West Colonial, starting at the intersection of West Colonial and Hiawassee and driving west, many big-box stores have closed and stayed closed since at least 2009. The economic devastation moves west down West Colonial and into West Oaks mall. I’ve written about this already on my older blog so just follow the link above and look at the economic stories. While other sections of Orlando have recovered somewhat, this section remains unrecovered and seems to be getting worse. Major stores such as Circuit City, Borders, Don Pablo’s, Sears, Ben Franklins… The list goes on an on. And no one is coming back into this area. It’s depressed and depressing, and the ongoing situation shows no end in sight.

This is the outcome of high energy costs, primarily gas. In my eyes it’s no accident that the high cost of gas corresponds with the decline of economic vitality all around Orlando, especially in this section. I also know there’ve been layoffs and cutbacks in salary for those who still have a job, whether by reductions in salary or by being cut from full to part time. For those people who once counted themselves as part of the middle class, it’s rough times indeed.

The area isn’t completely without commerce. Across the street from this out-of-business Super Target and soon-to-be-out-of-business Petco is a Sam’s Club, primarily for more well-to-do, mostly white shoppers. West down the road is a Lowes, across the street from where the Circuit City used to be. Just a mile further west from West Oaks on West Colonial is a Walmart Supercenter. But that still doesn’t hide the fact that more stores have closed than have opened or stayed open. It’s not a healthy economy, not by any stretch.