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Development approval for Mount Dora's Pineapple Point could be tricky

Development approval for Mount Dora's Pineapple Point could be tricky
The two undeveloped parcels highlighted in red total 4.3 acres, and are located on Lake Dora behind downtown Mount Dora's Lakeside Inn. (Lake County Property Appraiser)

Chances are it won't be quick or easy for the new buyer of Pineapple Point, the last raw waterfront land in downtown Mount Dora, to develop the four-plus acres that boast 870 feet of waterfront next to the Lakeside Inn.

The problem won't be with the current zoning, which already allows the same types of development on the parcels as in the rest of downtown: mixed uses including shops, restaurants, offices, hotels or motels and homes, said city manager Vincent Pastue.

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A big obstacle could be the city's restriction on building heights in downtown, which are limited to 25 feet within 100 feet of the lake and 35 feet in the rest of downtown.

Shorter buildings mean less built space, possibly translating to less profit, making it more difficult for 125NDS LLC, the entity controlled by local developer Gerard G. Guenther Jr., to make a profit on the $2.8 million land cost from last week, not including future expenses, Pastue said.

Guenther can seek a variance from the height restriction, but considering the strong citizen opposition the last time a developer asked for a height variance to build a movie theater two miles outside of downtown on U.S. 441, it might face an uphill battle.

Developer Epic Theatres finally received the variance to build the taller theater, but that land was well outside of the city's sacrosanct downtown.

Great American Life Insurance, the land seller, did not allow potential buyers to use the typical tool of buying an option to purchase land, subject to government approval of an acceptable development plan.

Without assurance that their plan will be approved, buyers are reluctant to write the closing check.

Trevor Hall Jr. of Colliers International Central Florida, who brokered the deal, said the land had been listed for about a year before Guenther bought it.

"I had a number of different people look at it," he said. "Most developers want to know that they have a plan approved before purchase."

Guenther previously told GrowthSpotter on Monday his company was in the process of developing a land plan.

Teresa Burney can be reached at 352-455-1955, or at teresaburney4@gmail.com.

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