Since the 1960s, Maitland has been a quintessential bedroom community. Some of the area’s first suburbs were built there to attract young families looking for large lawns and good schools.
In the late 1970s a sprawling office park called Maitland Center was built near the I-4 interchange, giving the city a distinctive business identity as well. The 190-acre development contains a hotel, 45 office buildings, and 400 businesses. More than 12,000 people are employed there.
Another big project that promises to give Maitland’s somewhat nebulous downtown district a more cohesive look is Broad Street Partners’ Ravinia, a seven-story retail and condominium development.
Also underway is Uptown Maitland East, a retail and condominium project, and North Bridge, a commercial office project that will sit across from Ravinia. Both are being developed by Naples-based Red Robin Realty.
Meanwhile, Maitland Town Square has been given new life as well. The original developer backed out, but The Brossier Company has stepped in to negotiate with the city on taking over the project, which would include a city hall and a public safety complex in addition to condominiums and retail space. Tentative plans call for more than 200,000 square feet of office space, 250,000 square feet of retail space, 600 residential units, a 150-room hotel, a movie theater and parks.
And on the south side of downtown, The Morgan Group plans to build The Village at Lake Lily, a nine-acre, mixed-use project encompassing condominiums, apartments and 45,000 square feet of retail space.
Clearly, Maitland can only be described as a thoroughly modern place. Yet it has actually been in existence longer than most Central Florida communities.
I was established in 1838 as Fort Maitland, named in honor of Capt. William S. Maitland, a hero of the Second Seminole War. In 1880, the railroad from Sanford arrived, sparking a tourism boom that lasted until freezes in the 1890s disenchanted visitors.
In 1937 sculptor AndrŽ Smith founded the Mayan themed Art Center in Maitland, which was originally intended to be a compound where artists could live and work. The center, now listed on the National Register of Historic Place, feature an open-air chapel that has become a popular location for weddings.
Today Maitland is home to the Enzian Theater, the region’s only art-house cinema and the setting for the annual Florida Film Festival. And two large art festivals are held in Maitland: one in October, sponsored by the Maitland Rotary Club, and one in April, sponsored by the Maitland/South Seminole Chamber of Commerce.
The Florida Audubon Society was founded in Maitland, and its headquarters, including the bird hospital, remain on Lake Sybellia.