Train car, shipping containers to become downtown Sanford restaurant, shopping complex

A developer plans to move a 95-year-old train car and 16 shipping containers into downtown Sanford for a new dining and shopping complex.

DeLand builder Mitch Menaker said he has purchased the 1923 train car and has a deal for a lease on a 9,000-square-foot parking lot. Construction could start on the project in spring and be finished in summer.

“There is a lot going on in Sanford, and we want this to be a destination location,” Menaker said. “For the containers, we’re looking for unique food, art, a coffee shop, flowers or some other kind of unique retail concepts that would keep customers within the area.”

The property is at the southwest corner of West 2nd Street and Palmetto Avenue, adjacent to Inner Compass Brewing and in the midst of the booming downtown Sanford dining and entertainment district.

Menaker doesn’t yet have a restaurant operator for the train car restaurant. He doesn’t plan to operate a food establishment but instead hopes to bring on a restaurateur to lease the space.

The project will remain an open-air development, with the 20-by-40-foot shopping containers lined up. There are also plans for seating on the top of the shipping containers.

Menaker is also contemplating a train depot entrance to the park. He is looking at possibly relocating an original train depot from Oklahoma, or building a new building to look like a historic structure.

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