Main Street Leasing, a major owner of retail space in downtown Mount Dora, spent $1.3 million earlier this month to take over a landmark building in the city's downtown that has been vacant for more than a year.
Located at 403 N. Donnelly St. on the corner with and Fourth Avenue, the 4,560-square-foot building was formerly a women's clothing store and home accessory store for years.
The former owner was The Drawer LTD Inc., a legal entity of the Pearson family, which had owned and operated the store for many years. The last sale of the parcel was a $4,300, unqualified sale in 1981, according to the Lake County Property Appraiser.
Harlow Middleton, counsel for Main Street Leasing, said the purchase was partially a defensive move. The building had been on the market for two years.
"After two years, we start getting worried about what might come in and buy it when pricing gets lower," said Middleton. "T-shirt shops and a lot of other stuff we don't want in town."
Middleton said the empty store at the corner was "very dangerous" to downtown. Main Street Leasing will attempt to fill the space with a tenant as soon as possible, he said.
While the space is on one of the best corners in downtown for traffic and accessibility, Middleton said the fact that no buyer had surfaced over two years shows that there is a problem with the property.
"Our own personal observation is that it hasn't been able to be sold or leased in two years, which makes me think the market is telling you they [potential buyers or leasees] don't want a big space," he said.
There is the possibility of dividing the space up for multiple tenants, but Middleton said no plans have been made yet. Whatever plans are submitted will be scrutinized by the city, which has exacting standards for modifications of historic buildings in downtown.