Aug 29, 2023
Downtown Orlando road closed due to unstable scaffolding
The latest breaking updates, delivered straight to your email inbox. One of the busiest intersections in downtown Orlando remains closed and will likely remain that way through the weekend. The
The latest breaking updates, delivered straight to your email inbox.
One of the busiest intersections in downtown Orlando remains closed and will likely remain that way through the weekend.
The streets were closed due to the possibility of tons of scaffolding collapsing.
Right now, Orange Avenue is closed between Central and Jackson and both Church Street and Pine Street are closed between Garland Avenue and Court Avenue.
Orlando police are making sure no one crosses the temporary fencing that's been put up just east of Orange Avenue on Church Street.
On the side of the former Suntrust Center is the scaffolding that is considered unstable, a danger, and the company that put it up, is working on a plan to take it down.
People can't get where they want to go in downtown Orlando because streets are closed.
Restaurant business is drying up and workers are making long walking detours in blistering heat.
"We have lost so many customers here," Hakan Ozcomert from Cucina Restaurant and Bar.
"Driving a lot of people away. Driving a lot of business away," Sam Makhlouf, a downtown worker, said.
Christian Cortes works at the Corona Cigar Lounge on South Orange Avenue and says the tons of scaffolding on the brink of collapse started out as being inconvenient.
He wasn’t able to find a parking spot to get to work on Thursday, but, as several roads have been closed, the scaffolding has become more than inconvenient.
"This little strip of bars brings in a lot of business so it has been extremely slow. Working at a bar, we make tips, so it has been pretty bad for business," Cortes said.
It's affected the customers too. Doug Lambert and his family just moved to Winter Park from Chicago last week.
On Friday night, they were excited to try a new downtown restaurant. The road closure forced them to cancel their evening plans.
"We live in Winter Park and we were coming down for some dinner reservations and obviously it looks like it’s blocked off, not going to be able to do that tonight," Lambert said.
It all started Wednesday when Balfour Beatty Construction was working with the scaffolding on the east side of the former Suntrust Tower at 222 S. Orange Avenue.
According to the city building permit obtained by WESH 2 Investigates, the company was working on a "façade renovation" on the property owned by Piedmont Office Realty Trust.
While a lot of the problem with this scaffolding was not apparent to most people until Thursday, we talked with some downtown workers very close by who say this all began on Wednesday.
"If that had continued to lean, it would have probably just pulled all of that down," Orlando worker Joyce Holtzapplec said.
Holtzapple showed us the view from her window on the 13th floor of the Seacoast Bank building.
She saw a pile of glass in the street near a "Genie" lift. And there's a broken window about four floors up.
"The scaffolding was leaning and they determined that it was coming off the building itself," Holtzapple said.
"Are you going to be taking down the scaffolding or helping Balfour Beatty take down the scaffolding?" WESH 2 asked.
"Yeah, you have to direct all of those questions to Balfour," a construction worker said.
Some workers declined to talk with us.
"We are continuing to work very closely with local authorities, including the fire department and city of Orlando's building department to maintain the safety and security of the project site and surrounding area," Ashley Melesse, a Balfour Beatty spokesperson, said in a statement.
The contractor won't say what caused the bent scaffolding and broken window, or when the scaffolding will be deconstructed.
The city of Orlando sent WESH 2 an update Friday evening, saying to help with access to businesses, certain areas have been deemed safe for pedestrian access.
The following areas are closed for pedestrians:
Find a map of closed areas below:
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