Some rumors just don't go away. Some don't have to.
A new shopping center in Eustis, across from Target on the north side of US 441, is in the final approval stages with the city. If all goes as expected, the land just west of Chili's will be home to an Aldi, Panera Bread, Vitamin Shoppe and more. A Tijuana Flats is also planned in the retail center providing more casual dining options in close proximity to the Epic Theatre to be constructed in bordering Mount Dora.
The project is currently awaiting a submittal from the developer, but the community is looking forward to it.
"We're excited about more shopping and dining options in the area", said Tom Carrino, Economic Development Director with the City of Eustis. "They are quality tenants."
Carrino said the city has been meeting on this project for months.
It's said you can never go home again. Luckily, for downtown Mount Dora that saying isn't always true.
Double Creek Pottery, will be re-opening a new store on Alexander Street next to Maggie's Attic and Gianni's. The family originally opened in Mount Dora in 1996 on Donnelly Street in the current space of Home & Garden Treasures. The creative retail space was run by mother and daughter potters, Joanne & Betty Barwick. The duo, worked and created together for forty years and eventually decided to close that store to focus on their wholesale business and international orders.
Like the former store, the new location will be a family affair. The store will feature Betty's bold, contemporary pottery, her brother Andy's abstract clocks crafted from wood, as well as jewelry and pottery from other Florida artists.
Creativity runs deep in the Barwick family. The siblings are third generation artists with a grandfather was also a potter and a sister that is an artist. Joanne, passed away four years ago.
The lease was signed yesterday for the bright space and the Barwicks plan to open on September 1.
"We are taking are time", said Betty Barwick of the store's opening due to their knowledge of Mount Dora's summer season.
Children can be cute and cunning. The really crafty ones can talk parents into just about anything. Crissy Stiles, owner of downtown Mount Dora's Barrel of Books & Games, was a childhood fan of comic books and apparently one of those really crafty children.
"When I was about 10 years old my brother and I talked my parents into opening a baseball card and comic book shop. They started one in a small space in Fishkill, NY and before they retired we had three stores around town. So this is taking me back to my roots", Stiles said of her added venture, Alleyway Comics.
Stiles decided to open the new store because people frequently asked her for comic books, but Barrel of Books & Games never had the space to devote to them. The small new space is adjacent to the current store, so it seemed like the right opportunity.
Alleyway Comics, named for its location on Dora Drawdy alley, is expected to open in September and stock the newest titles, thousands of backlist comic books, plus related merchandise like action figures and POP! figures. The cozy space will also feature a relaxing porch to sit and read comics.
Stiles will continue working in Barrel of Books & Games, which will celebrate its 4 year anniversary September 1. She is currently looking for the perfect employees for Alleyway Comics, that are very knowledgeable about comics, responsible, customer service oriented and will treat the store as their own. Experienced applicants should apply in person at Barrel of Books & Games.
Even for those that age gracefully, after a hundred years a facelift may be in order. That was the case for the Mount Dora Historic Train Depot.
Originally built in 1915, the depot's renovation was ten years in the making and cleared many hurdles before construction finally began in 2014. The project was completed earlier this month.
The renovation, funded largely by a grant by Mount Dora Community Trust, gracefully transformed the former Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot into a beautiful event venue while maintaining its historic character. The most striking feature of the building, placed on the National Register of Historic Places, are the large sliding cargo doors adjacent to the train tracks and the warm pine floors. The local contractor, Mint Construction, along with Leesburg architect, James Senatore, succeeded in keeping the depot's original historic detail.
The building, in the heart of downtown on Alexander Street, has long been home to the Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce and the warm setting now provides a venue option for weddings, parties, and business seminars. It will be available for rental by the the chamber for $260-$320 for three hours with additional hours available.
It's the brown craft paper that always makes passersby curious. Once it comes off, it's like unwrapping a present.
That will be the case when a new store, Blue Sky Blue Water, opens on Fourth Avenue in August. The downtown shop will focus its 2000 square feet on Florida lifestyle merchandise and offer brands currently not sold in the area. Mount Dora's seasoned retailers, Roy & Jacqui Gress, are busy doing the build out to the space formerly occupied by Karen's Gift Shoppe. The couple also owns Walk in the Woods, an established outdoor apparel store on 5th Avenue, downtown.
It's a ripple affect. One random act of kindness makes an impression, creates an attitude and builds momentum.
That's exactly how the Pay It Forward campaign in Tavares was conceived. The brainchild of Kevin Danko and Cierra Chappell, the engaged couple was the recipient of a random stranger buying their meal at a local restaurant.
"On the car ride home, we discussed how that simple gesture made us feel, and how we wished we could share that feeling with more people", said Danko.
The couple, partners in Peach Key, went to work to develop a program for downtown Tavares businesses then launched it in July. Over twenty shops and restaurants in Tavares signed on to the project. Each restaurant donates four Pay It Forward tickets to be hidden inside the shops. Once a ticket is found it can be redeemed at the participating restaurants for menu items. In return, the restaurants are asking for a promise from patrons to 'pay it forward'.
Participating business placed the program's decals in their window to show their participation. The businesses share hints on their social media pages as to where the tickets may be hidden. Recenlty, downtown Mount Dora & Eustis were include among the places tickets were being hidden
Pay it Forward's participating businesses include: Ruby Street Grille, Hoity Toity Mercantile, Lake Dora Sushi, Through the Years Vintage Market, O'Keefe's, Orange Blossom Cannonball, Key West Resort, Tiki West Raw Bar & Grill, AL'S Landing, Hemingway's Wine & Cigar Bar and more.
Editor's Note: We admire and applaud the thoughtful program created by Peach Key and the participation of the local businesses. "Kindness Matters" has long been the maxim of Mount Dora Buzz and this program serves as a reminder that one person's random act can spread kindness throughout a community. Please spread a little today!
Perched on a hillside, Mount Dora's newest neighborhood is progressing quickly. Dora Parc sits on the southeastern border of Mount Dora on Clayton Street and will have 38 luxury homes with access to Lake Dora.
According the to development's website, each home on the 22-acre community will have a lake view and residents will have access to the canal via a private walking path located in the center of the neighborhood. Dora Parc will also feature a limited number of boat slips on the canal that provide quick access to Lake Dora.
The four models are named after famous artists and range from 2,574 to 3,365 square feet and range in price from $429,000 to $526,000.