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Outlined in yellow are three parcels totaling 4.8 acres in Downtown Eustis being marketed for sale by the city.
Outlined in yellow are three parcels totaling 4.8 acres in Downtown Eustis being marketed for sale by the city. (provided)

The City of Eustis is rolling out a marketing plan seeking a developer to fill up a 4.8-acre hole in its downtown with a mix of apartments and shops, and is prepared to offer Tax Increment Financing, impact fee credits and more to sweeten the deal.

GrowthSpotter first reported in January that the city planned to partner with private owners of three contiguous blocks of land that were once home to Waterman Hospital.

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The location of the property is so key to sparking more economic development in the city that Eustis formed a partnership with the land owners, and dedicated time and money to market the land for them, because its development would benefit the city as a whole.

Eustis Partners LLC, a private group of locals, owns Parcels 1 and 2, while Parcel 3 is owned by Lake Eustis Properties, an entity of the Lake Community Foundation, which Waterman Hospital created to hold its land. An independent board runs it.

The city has put a "For Sale" sign up on the land and has developed a flyer with an aerial photograph of the three parcels that lie between Grove and Bay streets, just a block from Lake Eustis an in the heart of the historic downtown.

A selling price has been set at  $2.5 million. But whatever developer buys the land might be able to draw other sweeteners that would cut the cost of development.

The city says it may offer a "creative incentive package," including tax increment assistance to the right developer with the right plan. That could include tax increment financing, impact fee credits and others "based on need," the brochure says.

Another perk would be the city's willingness to build a parking garage on the northeastern parcel, across from the Post Office.

Economic Development Director Tom Carrino plans to circulate the marketing materials to brokers and other real estate professionals who might have clients that would be interested.

When Waterman Hospital moved out of Downtown Eustis in 2003 it had a big impact on the city's historic center, depriving shops of the patronage from hospital employees.

But in the interim years the city has made a number of improvements to downtown, including revitalizing Ferran Park on Lake Eustis, adding a splash park by its pool and band shell.

And the city has been noticed by the Millennial generation, which has discovered the lakefront downtown's residential offerings.

While the downtown core is relatively small, it's at near full capacity and includes essential services within easy walking distance that have been lost in many downtowns, including a pharmacy, a hardware store, a bank, and a handful of restaurants and other shops.

"We have everything you would need," Mayor Michael Holland told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday. "What other downtowns have hardware stores and pharmacies within walking distance?"

In addition, Holland stresses that the extension of the S.R. 429 expressway will bring more people into the Eustis and Mount Dora area, because it will make commuting to work in Orlando quicker and more convenient.

"We feel like we are in a great position to market this property," Holland said.

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Teresa Burney can be reached at 352-455-1955 or at Teresaburney4@gmail.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitterand LinkedIn.

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