The opportunity is as rare as they come in Mount Dora. One of only two remaining vacant lots in the heart of downtown is now up for grabs.
Enclosed by ornate iron gates, the small overgrown gem is piquing the interest of investors, dreamers and snoops. The small piece of land formerly served as the intimate garden venue for weddings and special events. A stage still sits on the west end of the property.
The lot is wedged on Baker Street between 4th and 3rd Avenues and is adjacent to the new restaurant, 1921. The property is listed for $750,000, according to listing agent, Karen Rascinto.
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More change is coming to downtown Mount Dora. One of its prominent corner buildings is under contract to be purchased by Main Street Leasing (MSL).
The building, located at 403 N. Donnelly Street, was formerly home to The Drawer until it closed two years ago. Since then it has been vacant with the exception of last summer when it was used as an office for the construction crew.
The building's purchase will add to MSL’s sizable downtown real estate holdings. Its portfolio already includes two downtown Mount Dora landmarks--the Princess Theatre and the New Orleans Building at the corner of 5th and Donnelly.
MSL's tenants include Pisces Rising, Fiesta Grande, Spice & Tea Exchange, Gianni's, Maggie's Attic, Shiva, plus Pure Aveda, Julianne’s Coastal Cottage and others. Some MSL properties are occupied by its affiliated businesses like the Modernism Museum, its separate retail store and 1921.
Additionally, Main Street Leasing has prominent downtown commercial properties that have been noticeably vacant for several years. Those include the Princess Theatre building, the Sears House on 4th and Alexander, the New Orleans building and the entire north side of the 5th Avenue block from Donnelly to Alexander and less visible vacant space on Dora Drawdy Way.
The small unused parking lot on 5th and Alexander, as well as the large lot on 5th and McDonald are also owned by Main Street Leasing.
The Donnelly property currently under contract marks the eleventh corner property owned by the company in the city's small historic downtown core.
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Every morning there is a growing procession of followers to a new kingdom of sweets. Smiling minions depart with treasure chests in the form of bright yellow boxes in their arms. The coveted bounty inside: donuts the size of a linebacker's hand and apple fritters that resemble frisbees.
Last Friday, Hometown Market in Eustis began selling fresh donuts from Donut King, a Minneola donut shop recently rated one of the top 15 donut shops in the U.S.
The partnership was a natural. Hometown Market's customers clamored for fresh donuts daily and owner Jeremiah Hilliard was eager to appease them. Meanwhile, Donut King was able to produce both the quality and quantity needed to satiate their cult-like following. Loyalists regularly traveled across Lake County just to sink their teeth into one of these circular sensations. The Eustis market brings in 20 to 30 fresh-baked varieties daily and sells out in the late afternoon. Flavors range from blinged-out varieties like "Fruity Pebbles," "Oreos" and "Gator Sprinkles" to decadent Key Lime or Maple Bacon; and there are also the plain-Jane glazed and chocolate glazed standards.
Donut King opened 7 years ago in Minneola and quickly became a landmark. It was the logical business for Lance Johnston, who grew up making the treat at his father's Louisiana donut shop. Two years ago, the second Donut King location opened in Winter Park. Today, the company makes between 300 to 400 dozen daily and rotates offerings among their 80-100 varieties.
"The response has been amazing," said Johnston. "It's nice to see people appreciate it. It takes a lot of work to turn out a good product."
Every day Hilliard has increased the market's order as the steady stream of sugar junkies from across northern Lake County makes the pilgrimage to his donut counter. Within its first week, Hometown Market is already selling from 40-50 dozen a day. The market will begin taking pre-orders next week and hopes to open earlier in the morning soon to accommodate customers that want to share their decadent vice with clients and co-workers.
Hometown Market is located at 401 Plaza Drive in Eustis and opens at 9 a.m.
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Above: Jeremiah Hilliard stocks the display case with fresh varieties every morning.
Lots of folks are curious about the progress of Aldi and Panera Bread on U.S. 441 in Eustis across from Target.
The new shopping center broke ground last spring and construction required a retaining wall and other infrastructure. According to the project’s manager, construction is on track. "Residents should begin to see pavement, striping and landscaping in the next 90 days", said the project's manager, Vince Iannucci. The first three buildings will have tenants that include Aldi, Tijuana Flats, Vitamin Shoppe, Mattress Firm and Pacific Dental.
Construction has not yet begun on the project's fourth building, which will have the Panera Bread, according to Iannucci. As of today, a permit application for that building has not been submitted to the City of Eustis, said Miranda Burrowes, Public Relations Coordinator for the City of Eustis. That means residents are going to have to wait a little longer for the popular restaurant and bakery chain to open.
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Mount Dora has two. Eustis has two. It just didn’t seem fair Tavares had none. That’s about to change. The city’s new Publix is targeting a September opening which will make shopping much more convenient for many of its residents. The new store will be just under 46,000 square feet and feature a pharmacy, liquor store and Greenwise organic items. The new Tavares Crossroads Publix, to be located at 2042 State Road 19, held a job fair in August and received an extraordinary turnout. Stay turned to Mount Dora Buzz on Facebook for an opening date.
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