UPDATED: JANUARY 20, 2016 8:33 AM — Dirt is finally moving for construction of a much-anticipated shopping center on U.S. 441 in Eustis that will be home to the Eustis-Mount Dora area's only Panera Bread, an Aldi grocery, and Tijuana Flats.
Mattress Firm, Pacific Dental Services, and Vitamin Shoppe are also signed tenants, said Steven Alafazanos, vice president of development for WIN Development LLC. Only one space in the center remains unleased.
GrowthSpotter first reported in July on plans for the shopping plaza project. At the time, Alafazanos thought site preparation was imminent.
However, it took a while to get plans approved with the Florida Department of Transportation for the entrance to the shopping center, because it had to align with the entrance to Target and Walmart across U.S. 441 on the Mount Dora side of the road, Alafazanos said Tuesday.
Two concrete power poles also needed to be moved and replaced to allow for the entrance. The city of Eustis has had a pre-construction meeting on site development and permitted the land for clearing and grading.
The site needs quite a bit of work before the building pads can be put in place, said Vince Iannucci, general contractor for the project with Bay to Bay Properties.
The first major hurdle is clearing the property and building up the land by 15 feet, with a retaining wall on the backside of the lot that backs up to a lake, Iannucci said.
Conservatively, Alafazanos expects tenants will start opening in September.
"It could be sooner, but just to be on the safe side we are saying September," he said.
The center will occupy 44,200 square feet overall. Aldi at 17,018 square feet is the largest tenant, and has its own pad. Panera will have its own building as well at 3,694 square feet. The other three building pads are for multiple tenants, with 7,888 square feet, 9,600 square feet, and 6,000 square feet.
Across U.S. 441 from the new shopping center, an Epic Theatre is planned behind Target. The additional traffic is likely to boost the interchange into a major one, which also serves Walmart and another mall shopping center.