Orlando creating a permanent memorial to victims of the Pulse massacre

This memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre was set up at Orlando's Lake Eola Park. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

This memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre was set up at Orlando’s Lake Eola Park. (Photo by Michael Freeman).


ORLANDO — The City of Orlando has started the process of creating a permanent memorial that pays lasting tribute to the victims of the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting.
“As the Central Florida community continues to heal from this tragic event, the city stands committed to creating a permanent space that will preserve the memory of those who lost their lives, provide comfort to those who seek it and honor the spirit and love of our great city,” noted a news release issued by the city’s press secretary, Cassandra Anne Lafser on Friday.
As part of that, she noted, the city government has started a partnership with the Orange County Regional History Center to collect and preserve items that had been intended to pay tribute to the Pulse victims, including letters, notes, and signs placed at temporary memorial sites.
The Orlando region continues to work on recovering from the devastating massacre that happened on Sunday June 12, when a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others inside Pulse, a gay nightclub near downtown Orlando.
The deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, the assailant was later identified as Omar Mateen, 29. He was killed by Orlando police after a three hour standoff. Read more »

Orlando real estate could be impacted by Brexit

Orlando's housing market has been on the upswing, but the Brexit vote could impact sales by foreign investors.

Orlando’s housing market has been on the upswing, but the Brexit vote could impact sales by foreign investors.


ORLANDO – The housing market in Orlando has been on an upswing this year, with both sales and home prices increasing.
But now there are questions on whether the Brexit vote will bring some decidedly chillier winds to the market.
“You’ve got two main areas where it’s going to affect us here,” said Justine Assal, who organizes the annual BritWeek celebration in Orlando. “One is the tourism, and the other is the real estate market.”
On Thursday, residents of the United Kingdom voted 52-to-48 percent in favor of exiting the European Union, which the country had been a part of for 43 years.
Britain’s vote quickly battered the British pound, which dropped more than 11 percent Thursday night into this morning.
That weakening of the pound compared to the U.S. dollar means the cost of a vacation in Orlando, from hotel rooms to meals and theme park tickets – suddenly got more expensive. It also means the price of a home is more expensive as the pound drops, Assal said.
“The British always purchased a lot of real estate here,” she said. “When you look at the real estate companies here, so many have popped up around Clermont and Davenport and the Four Corners area. In a big way that is driven by British pounds coming over here and Brits coming with tour operators to stay in the homes, and there is going to be a huge impact on that until the currency stabilizes.” Read more »

Brexit vote seen as potentially hurting Orlando’s tourism economy

Orlando's tourism economy could be impacted by the Brexit vote to have the United Kingdom exit the European Union.

Orlando’s tourism economy could be impacted by the Brexit vote to have the United Kingdom exit the European Union.


ORLANDO – Here in Orlando’s popular tourist corridor, Britain’s Brexit vote probably seemed like a faraway concern that won’t matter much locally, or as an issue for Europeans alone.
But Britain’s decision to exit its membership in the European Union – which U.K. voters approved on Thursday in a referendum that passed by a 52-48 percent margin – most definitely will have a local impact in the Orlando area, and not necessarily for the region’s benefit, a noted economics forecaster said.
Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida, noted that the Orlando area benefits heavily from British tourism and from the investments by British business owners in the local economy.
“Britain now is the second largest country as far as the origins of international visits to Florida, Canada being number 1,” Snaith said. “Anything that affects that source of economic activity — whether it’s in real estate or leisure and hospitality — will be felt in the region.”
There could be a quick, negative impact on Central Florida’s tourism economy, Snaith said, if, as expected, the Brexit vote weakens the value of the British pound.
That could translate into a far more expensive trip to the Orlando area, he said, potentially hurting the local tourism industry. Read more »

Orlando tourism economy will survive Pulse attack, economics professor says

This memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre was set up at Orlando's Lake Eola Park. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

This memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre was set up at Orlando’s Lake Eola Park. (Photo by Michael Freeman).


ORLANDO – Central Florida’s very strong tourism economy is likely to recover from the terrorist attack at a gay nightclub near downtown Orlando, said an expert on state and national economic trends.
Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida, said its likely most visitors will see the attack on the Pulse nightclub as a one-time event, horrific as it was, and not necessarily as something likely to be repeated.
The same is true, he said, even though it happened two days after the shooting death of a singer from “The Voice,” and one day before a toddler was killed by an alligator at a Walt Disney World hotel.
“I think that is unique,” Snaith said, “although I’m not convinced that visitors or potential visitors sort of link those together in a chain, that it defines the nature of our region. I think they’re all sort of very different – and unlikely to be repeated.”
The three incidents received worldwide press attention, with heavy coverage on local, national and cable news programs. But despite that coverage and often graphic video footage of the aftermath of the Pulse attack, Snaith said he does not expect tourists to suddenly assume Orlando is no longer a safe city to visit.
“You think, of course, of the terror attack at Pulse,” he said. “That’s a pretty difficult event for Orlando to process, perhaps more so for the residents than the visitors, and the toddler at Disney is just such a freak event. It’s not that suddenly everyone thinks if they go to Disney they will be attacked by an alligator. There may be some short term impacts from these events, but by and large I don’t think it’s going to have an impact long term.” Read more »

Foreclosures sales and auctions pose a risk to buyers, noted real estate expert cautions

An Flamand, the owner and broker at Orlando Vacation Realty, says people looking to buy foreclosed homes at auctions should proceed cautiously.

An Flamand, the owner and broker at Orlando Vacation Realty, says people looking to buy foreclosed homes at auctions should proceed cautiously.


ORLANDO — During the height of the national recession, which battered Florida’s economy, the Sunshine State had the sorry designation of being one of the nation’s top “foreclosure states.”
It was a difficult time, as far too many homes fell into foreclosure when the owners were unable to keep up with the monthly mortgage payments.
Today, the real estate market in Florida is once again booming, and the word “foreclosure” rarely gets mentioned. These days, buyers and sellers are far more likely to be talking about other issues — limited inventory in highly desirable locations, rising prices, and those rock-bottom low interest rates that can make a home purchase so appealing.
That doesn’t mean there are no longer foreclosed homes in Central Florida being put up for sale or action by the financial institution that claimed it — although the market has improved so significantly that foreclosures and short-sales (where a distressed owner offers to sell their property at a competitive price below what they owe on their mortgage in the hopes of quickly attracting a buyer) no longer dominate this market. Read more »

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