A milky history…

On 10/10/2016, The Milk District became the 10th district to join the Orlando Main Streets program. Tommy ‘Mot’ Barger, the owner of Space Bar and president of The Milk District Board, and Falon Quillen, owner of Etoile Boutique and the district’s promotion committee chair, offer insight into the Milk District’s history and how it will benefit from participating in the Orlando Main Streets program.

The Milk District

In 1925, a local Rollins College graduate by the name of Thomas Gilbert Lee decided to go into the dairy business. He purchased some land on the corner of Bumby Avenue and Colonial Drive to build his pasture. In 1955 after years of hard work, Lee sold 20 of his 56 acres to a New York real estate group and took the money to build a processing plant on the remaining 36 acres of land. Who would have known that a milk factory would become such an inspiration more than 50 years later?

One afternoon in 2008, while brainstorming what to call this community that they were building, Tommy and a group of local residents and business owners surrounding the T.G. Lee plant came up with the name The Milk District. That year, after winning the award for ‘Best Neighborhood On The Edge’ by The Orlando Weekly, the neighborhood decided to launch The Milk District brand.

Later that year, The City of Orlando launched the Orlando Main Streets program, and we wanted The Milk District to become an Orlando Main Street. The Milk District met with City staff over the next few years, informing them of the drastic changes happening in the area, but unfortunately at the time funding was not available to officially fund The Milk District Main Street Program.

In the years that followed, and with the addition of new businesses and interest from the surrounding area, The Milk District started to grow beyond Robinson Street. New boundaries for The Milk have established from South Street, up to Colonial/50, and surrounding the Bumby and Primrose corridors in-between.

The Milk District

Neighborhood events such as Tasty Tuesdays in The Milk District were created to raise money for the neighborhood and raise even more awareness of the community. We’ve built a community for artists, families and entrepreneurs to lay down their roots. Before we knew it, The Milk District was becoming a widely recognized cultural hub for Orlando through food, music, art and fashion.

Flash forward to 2016, after eight years of building our brand as a DIY community, The Milk District has finally become the 10th Orlando Main Streets district. Thanks to the help of The City of Orlando, Mayor Dyer, Pauline Eaton, Commissioner Patty Sheehan and many more, The Milk District will receive financial assistance, technical support, and training to foster growth and prosperity among the small businesses within the district.

Our district is founded on independence, and united as a group of small businesses with great ambitions. We’re more excited than ever to see what is in store for our community in the years to come, and we want to begin this next chapter the same way that we started it all – with a thank you to all of our supporters.


Learn more about our Orlando Main Streets program