Study seeks new business in Mount Dora’s Grandview Street area

An open house presentation on how to improve the Grandview Business District will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Martin Luther King Center, 803 Florida Ave., Mount Dora. Residents will be able to comment on the study and help set future priorities for the city’s Northeast Community Redevelopment Agency district. (Jerry Fallstrom / Orlando Sentinel)

Chris Gerbasi, Correspondent
August 2, 2016

UNT DORA — Business owners such as Ken Thomas are eager to see what a new market study reveals about commercial possibilities in the city’s Grandview Street neighborhood.

Thomas plans to attend an open-house presentation from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Martin Luther King Center, 803 Florida Ave. Residents will be able to comment on the study and help set future priorities for the city’s Northeast Community Redevelopment Agency district.

Thomas and his wife, Maria, own Ivory’s Take-Out Restaurant at 1325 N. Grandview St., part of a 9-acre commercial area at Grandview and Lincoln Avenue. Other businesses include a second restaurant, a market and a beauty salon.

But most of the Grandview neighborhood is undeveloped or residential, with an estimated population of 820. The area has been significantly affected for many years by business development on U.S. Highway 441.

The objective of the redevelopment agency, which has been in existence since 1989, is to revitalize the housing and commercial areas of the district.

“It’s imperative that a plan is established on what businesses are needed, what would be comparable to what’s already there and the businesses that would flourish in the community,” Thomas said.

Efforts also should be made to increase home ownership, he said, because businesses obviously need customers.

The market study, conducted by Redevelopment Management Associates of Pompano Beach, examined the Grandview area’s economic base and potential for new businesses. The firm will make recommendations for implementing its findings.

The company spent a lot of time interviewing people in the community, Mayor Nick Girone said.

“We wanted to look at the northeast area of the city, which has had some growth, and see what kind of businesses could be attracted for that area,” he said. “There have been a lot of improvements going on there the last few years.”

The Lincoln Trail, a bicycle and pedestrian pathway along Lincoln Avenue completed in 2014, and Ruthie Watson Park, opened in 2012 at 1295 N. Grandview St., are among the recent projects in the Northeast Community Redevelopment Agency district.

But more commercial activity is important for the district, Northeast Community Redevelopment Agency Chairman James T. Williams said in a news release.

“The Northeast redevelopment area has been moving in a positive direction for many years,” Williams said. “To continue the momentum, the first step is to determine factors which will drive the economy for this district with a fresh market study.”

Girone said he hopes to see new shopping spots along Grandview. An incubator program for businesses also is possible.

“We need to pay attention to that area and see what we can do in the future,” he said.

The redevelopment agency offers business incentives, such as development fee reimbursements, for the Grandview area. The city helped the Thomases navigate the impact fee process when they opened Ivory’s in 2008.

“The CRA [community redevelopment agency] has been very helpful to [address] the needs of businesses in the community,” Thomas said. “I’m very hopeful there will be more improvements in the area.”

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