Economic development has long been a spoken priority in Mount Dora. Now that spoken word has turned into action. Almost a year’s worth of effort by City Manager Robin Hayes and Mount Dora’s economic development consultant Dr. Richard Levey paid off in May when Steamroller Studios announced it would relocate its headquarters to downtown Mount Dora. Hayes learned through Lake County that the game development and animation company expressed an interest in relocating from their Eustis space into a larger building in a downtown area. Hayes and Levey reached out to Steamroller Studios to pitch them the idea of settling into Mount Dora. According to Hayes, company officials were looking for a downtown area in Lake County with a strong connection to the arts, because many of its roughly fifty employees are artists and creatives. “Attracting the most talented artists, programmers, and coordinators in the world means you need to have a location that will excite them,” said Adam Meyer, Steamroller’s Chief Creative Officer and co-owner. “From the amazing restaurants to the charming shops and festivals, we feel the downtown location will very much appeal to the talent we have, as well as the ones we are trying to bring in.” In addition to Mount Dora’s vibe as an artistic town, it also provides incentives to attract qualified businesses. In 2011, the city passed an ordinance to allow an economic development tax abatement program. This program is offered to any business that meets specific economic development criteria. Steamroller Studios has applied for that program, which would lower its local tax liability. The actual amount is pending the assessment from the property appraiser’s office and then it will proceed to the City Council for approval during its July 17th regular meeting.
Above: Eustis' historic Olde Chapel Hall is presently home to Steamroller Studios
Steamroller Studios is also eligible for Mount Dora’s High Value Job Creation Incentive Program. However, all city economic development incentives require approval by the city council. The rapidly growing 2015 start-up company will leave its historic Olde Chapel Hall space in Eustis once renovations are complete on its new Mount Dora office space on the corner of Third Avenue and Baker Street. Meyer said they are anticipating making the move sometime in July or August.
Steamroller Studios will occupy all of the top floor, as well as a portion of the ground floor, plus the entire stand-alone building that was previously home to Norm’s Palette and various offices. Meyer, a Lake County native, said the building located at 301 Baker Street and its outdoor courtyards fit the campus-like setting they sought for a creative working environment. Wave Asian Bistro and Synergy Salonspa are remaining in the building and should gain customers from Steamroller’s workforce.
The company has worked on popular video games such as Fortnite, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex and Prey, as well as their own game “Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse.”