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Proposed movie theater for Mount Dora is again in question

Epic Theatres of Deland has a deal to purchase the land outlined in red to build a movie theater in Mount Dora. Epic is asking for a waiver of the requirement to build a fence around the theater where it abuts land that is zoned for residential use.
Epic Theatres of Deland has a deal to purchase the land outlined in red to build a movie theater in Mount Dora. Epic is asking for a waiver of the requirement to build a fence around the theater where it abuts land that is zoned for residential use. (Lake County Property Appraiser)

A last-minute request by the developer of a proposed movie theater in Mount Dora could have the effect of derailing the project, which has already survived a challenge to its height, a lead executive of the theater group told GrowthSpotter.

Epic Theatres of DeLand is asking the city to waive its requirement to build a six-foot masonry wall where the theater property abuts residentially zoned land. Frank DeMarsh, president of Epic, said the wall's cost could threaten the project.

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"Hopefully we will get this done and we will move forward," DeMarsh said.

Mount Dora does not have a movie theater, and many residents have been looking forward to construction of the proposed 14-screen multiplex to be built behind Target and east of Wal-Mart on U.S. 441.

Epic announced the theater plans and its purchase agreement for the 17 acres in February 2014. A sign went up indicating the theaters would open by this month.

Mount Dora's director of planning and zoning, Mark Reggentin, told GrowthSpotter the movie theater has all its permissions and permits in place.

"They could be under construction if they wanted to," he said.

Reggentin said the city is willing to offer a compromise on the wall to Epic.

"We are trying to work with them," he added.

The city is willing to waive the requirement to build a wall along about two-thirds of the property's perimeter that abuts a DOT retention pond, since no one is expected to ever live on that land, Reggentin said. However, a wall would be required for the other third of the property abutting the rest of the residential-zoned land.

The city's Planning and Zoning Board will meet on that issue and others today.

Via Port Mall (Formerly Lake Square Mall) is the closest theater for Mount Dora residents. Recently, the malls' new owners announced plans to fix up its movie theater.

Teresa Burney can be reached at 352-455-1955 or at teresaburney4@gmail.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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