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A rendering of the proposed 56,000-square-foot Sailing & Conference Center.
A rendering of the proposed 56,000-square-foot Sailing & Conference Center. (Eustis)

Mount Dora-based nonprofit Eastern Arts & Humanities, Inc. is interested in developing a $22 million hotel to serve visitors of the city’s proposed Sailing & Conference Center in downtown.

City Manager Ron Neibert told GrowthSpotter representatives with the organization submitted a letter of intent earlier this week expressing it is currently looking at two sites that may accommodate a hotel with up to 120 rooms.

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If completed, the project would be downtown Eustis’ first hotel development.

Without disclosing the addresses, Neibert said the properties are currently vacant and lie in close proximity to Lake Eustis and the proposed 56,000-square-foot Sailing & Conference Center that will be subject of a March 2020 referendum.

An aerial view of downtown Eustis.
An aerial view of downtown Eustis. (City of Eustis)

The city is developing the conference center in partnership with the Lake Eustis Sailing Club, the Lake Eustis Youth Sailing Foundation and the U.S. Sailing Association. It would replace the current community center at Bay Street and Northshore Drive next to the Eustis Historical Museum.

In total, the development is estimated to cost roughly $16.35 million with a majority of funding coming from bonds authorized by voters. About $3 million would stem from current city reserves and $3.5 million in Lake County Tourism Development Tax capital funding. The city would also pursue federal and state grants as well as private-sector funding.

“The passage of the conference center would certainly make the decision that much more easier [for the developer],” Neibert said. “It creates a market for them.”

He said the hotel would be able to accommodate visitors attending anticipated events at the Sailing & Conference Center. Those include e-sports competitions, fishing tournaments, sailing events as well as local functions like weddings, banquets and business meetings.

The referendum voting item will also include the 4,000-square-foot expansion of the Carver Park recreational facility.

Neibert said, if approved, the city hopes to begin construction of the Sailing & Conference Center sometime in September.

Records show Eastern Arts & Humanities, Inc. is led by David Berndt, George Mattson and Karen Parker.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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