Valerie and Robert Hart have sold their beloved iconic downtown Mount Dora Renaissance Building for $1.4 million to Daniel Divenanzo of Lake Investment Ventures and Jacob P. Smith Building Co.
The Harts, who have owned the three-story building at 411 N. Donnelly St. since Christmas of 1994, are getting older and thought it was time to turn it over to someone younger with new ideas. Divenanzo, who has developed some downtown properties in Eustis, has been renting the buildng with an option to buy for a year.
"Daniel owns other properties in Eustis and he won us over," said Valerie Hart. "We have confidence in him."
The building was badly rundown when the Harts bought it. It had been boarded up for 10 years. The cellar, which has become a restaurant, was a party spot for young people and had to be cleaned out and finished out.
"It was not fit for the pigeons," said Valerie Hart.
They renovated, working hard to keep as much of the original building as possible, trying to keep true to its 1924 hotel roots.
When they were done, the couple leased out space in the building to restaurants and various shops over the years. They turned down chain operations and concentrated on Mom and Pop entrepreneurs, some who had more enthusiasm than business know-how. Often, in the slow summer months when customers were rare, heir lessees couldn't pay their rent, so the couple let the rent ride until winter when the customers returned.
The new owner, Divenanzo, could not be reached Tuesday to discuss his plans for the building.