The $70 million Florida Hospital WatermanEmergency Department Expansion and New Patient Tower which broke ground in July 2017 marked a major milestone last week. The highest structural element was put in place and the hospital hosted a "topping out" celebration, a traditional construction ceremony. Guests were invited to sign the structure’s highest beam before it was lifted by a crane into place. As part of the tradition, an evergreen tree was lifted with the beam and placed on the top of the project.
The project will more than double the hospital’s emergency department capacity by adding more than 111,000 square feet of patient care space to the hospital. This includes an expansion of the emergency department to 58 beds and a 24-bed women and pediatrics unit. Floors three and four of the new patient tower will be shelled for future growth, and the structure will support an additional expansion up to six floors. Construction is scheduled to be completed by April 2019.
“This is a big day for Florida Hospital Waterman,” said Abel Biri, the hospital’s CEO. “As our community continues to grow, and more Lake County residents choose us for their care, we have expanded to meet that demand.
“We are committed to delivering the most advanced and efficient care possible in our community, and we are blessed to have the opportunity to build on our historic commitment for the future,” continued Biri.
Abel Biri, the hospital’s CEO, and guests signed the project's top beam.
Florida Hospital Waterman will soon be AdventHealth Waterman. The 269-bed hospital was founded in 1938 in Eustis by Frank Waterman, president of the Waterman Fountain Pen Company, as an 18-bed facility in a defunct hotel. The hospital joined the Adventist Health System in 1992 and moved to its current Tavares location in 2003. With more than 1,700 employees and nearly 280 physicians on its medical staff, the hospital cares for more than 15,000 inpatients a year.
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In the spring of last year, it was announced that Wawa, a national convenience store and gas station chain, was slated to replace the small Shell station on the corner of U.S. 441 and Morningside Drive near Lake Gertrude. The chain of large gas stations has gained popularity for its variety of take-out food options. Although the Wawa project has been approved for several months by the City of Mount Dora, Wawa is adding approximately 90 new stores in Florida and construction isn’t expected to begin in Mount Dora until next summer, according to a city official. However, the company couldn't confirm that specific timing.
Wawa plans to kick off its North Central Florida launch on September 12 when it breaks ground on three stores in Ocala. At that time the company plans to announce its timing for specific sites in the region, including Mount Dora. "The timing of our site openings are carefully planned and take into consideration many factors in our overall expansion efforts," said a Wawa spokesperson. Last year, the city of Mount Dora acted promptly to annex the approximately 1.25 acre property and re-zoned it as necessary for Wawa. Wawa opened its first store in Florida in 2012 and had over 100 locations in the Sunshine State as of 2017. Of the over 730 locations in the eastern part of the U.S., approximately 500 also provide gasoline.
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The sight of construction on U.S. 441 near Panera Bread was enough to get tongues wagging and spark rumors about what new businesses are setting up shop.
The fact is, there are three new national chains moving into the spot across from Mount Dora's Target. Kay’s Jewelers, Marco’s Pizza, and Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa will all have locations at the site under construction in the strip center in Eustis. No completion or opening date has been determined.
Currently, the closest Kay’s Jewelers is inside the Leesburg Mall, while the nearest Marco’s Pizza is in Apopka. Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa is a national franchise concept with nearby spas in Lake Mary and Longwood. All of their franchises are open seven days a week with extended hours. Stay tuned to Mount Dora Buzz for updates and openings. Find more new local stores and restaurants opening in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis by signing up for the free monthly issue of 'The Buzz' hereand follow Mount Dora Buzz on Facebook.
There always seem to be new businesses popping up in downtown Mount Dora, but rarely is one so long overdue.
A new bike share and rental company, Mount Dora Bikes, plans for its fleet of new bicycles to hit the road by mid-August or early September. The business will launch with twelve custom aluminium bikes, six of them available for hourly rentals, while the others will be for daily rentals.
The hourly bike rentals will be accessible from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week at a self-service rack that serves as a docking station. The rack will be located at 334 N. Donnelly Street in downtown Mount Dora near Every Nook & Cranny artists collective. Customers will download the Bloom Bike Share mobile app and follow the simple process to pay for and unlock the bikes. The hourly rate is $15 per hour and the process will be similar to what riders experience at bike-shares in larger cities. Geo-fence technology will keep track of each bike.
The company and its cheerful branding are the brainchild of Maria Slaby, a local publisher and 22-year Mount Dora resident, with a lifelong passion for bikes. The company’s slogan is “You can’t buy happiness, but you can rent a bike.”
A few years ago Slaby jumped on her first bike-share experience in New York City with her daughter, Annika. It was love at first ride. The current trend in bike-shares is for private businesses to launch them, rather than the municipal programs seen previously. Slaby’s process began late last year with the logistics and technology requiring the most patience.
Daily rental bikes are also available with one-, two-, and three-day packages available that include picnic baskets, sightseeing maps and local discount coupons for dining and merchandise. Helmets and safety vests are available to borrow at no charge. Daily rates start at $50 per day and decrease for multiple days.
Reservations for daily rentals can be made online with free pick-up and delivery from 10 a.m. until noon within Mount Dora’s core. Outside Mount Dora, pick-up can be arranged as needed.
“For our family, biking in Mount Dora has been a huge part of our lives. As a home-schooling family with four kids, we often took our bikes and backpacks on excursions throughout the city, settling at one park or another for a break to do some homework,” said Slaby. “It’s a joy to be able to share this passion for biking with others in a town we adore.”
In the past, Slaby had been renting bikes to service local hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. She’s thrilled to be expanding the fleet and offerings directly to customers with Mount Dora Bikes.
Excursions, tours and events are planned for the future. “First we want to get our foundation solid in the Mount Dora area. Our priority is to get our systems running smoothly and efficiently,” said Slaby. “Hopefully that will go quickly, paving the way for us to not only expand our fleet, but our offerings as well.”
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