Business View Magazine | December 2018

304 305 MOUNT DORA, FLORIDA a bevy of historic buildings and large canopy oak trees, and is popular for antique and specialty shops, and special events that draw thousands of visitors throughout the year.Most notable: the Annual Christmas Lighting Festival, Bicycle Festival,Antique Spring Show, Crafts Fair,Mount Dora Arts Festival, and the Sailing Regatta. For the last several years, the city has worked with Lake County to establish an area east of town within the city’s Joint Planning Area for the establishment of an employment based economic development district.This area is ideally located to take advan- tage of the imminent construction of the Wekiva Parkway and improved transportation system along State Road 46.To date, the city and Lake County have jointly developed and adopted consistent land use designations to allow for higher intensity office and light industrial and support retail uses. Business ViewMagazine spoke, recently,with Mount Dora CityManager, Robin Hayes, and Public Information Officer (PIO), Lisa McDonald, about the city’s ambitious plans for community growth, sus- tainable development, and innovation.The follow- ing is an edited transcript of that conversation. BVM: Mount Dora has significant plans for 1300 acres of land. Can you update us on that initiative? Hayes: “We are very fortunate in Mount Dora to have a Joint Planning Agreement (JPA) with Lake County that takes into account 1,300 acres to the east of our city. Referred to as the Wolf Branch Innovation District, it’s basically an undeveloped area with just a few homesteads and a couple of small businesses. In 2010,we prepared an Envision- ing Plan for the area, that’s since been revised to accommodate infrastructure–installation of water and sewer systems, and conduit for future fiber, running along State Rd. 46 fromMount Dora to the Seminole County-Sanford area. Part of the new 429 roadway has also been the interconnect into Mount Dora,which is the 453. So,we’ll see the growth and impact from having two major highways, not going through, but connected to our city. “The fiber is city-owned and we’re able to pipe it through the Innovation District hoping to encour- age health and life science companies to move in. We performed a study through Duke Energy and McCallum Sweeney Consulting.They looked at the area and felt 300 of the 1,300 acres we had slated for commercial development are better suited for health sciences, i.e. IT-type functions and medical and educational services,which we’re considering. We have a tentative agreement with a college on 20 acres that a property owner donated; the college is now seeking funding for the build.Within the 1,300 acres,we also hope to build housing that will allow folks that live and work in Lake County to stay in the county and not have to cross county boundaries. Right now,we are a transitional area into Seminole and Orange Counties, so we’re hoping to bring more families into Mount Dora to sustain our future.”