MOUNT DORA, Fla. – A recent land sale is showing signs of movement for a long-awaited development in Mount Dora and Lake County.
It may look like farmland for now, but Mount Dora Mayor Crissy Stile sees so much potential.
“It really is endless,” Stile said.
The 850 acres along State Roads 46 and 453 make up the Wolf Branch Innovation District. It is a joint partnership between the city and Lake County. The local governments adopted the plans back in 2019.
“It’s been quite a few council members, quite a few mayors that had their hands in the foresight of creating the Wolf Branch Innovation District,” Stile said.
The mayor said the city is growing and even more connected after the toll road opened in 2018. New homes are popping up in the community every day, which is why Stile said she’s focusing on bringing more businesses to the area.
She said that’s where the new district fits in.
“Which is a huge blank slate for us to grow even more,” Stile said.
Stile is calling it an “employment center” that will include industrial, commercial and mixed-use residential developments. She said the district will bring high-paying jobs.
“There’s just not a lot in Mount Dora, higher-paying jobs, that you can really focus on staying here. So we want to be the hometown, homebred people that want to live here for a lifetime, so the innovation district will help with that too,” she said.
Some liken the district to Orange County’s Lake Nona community, but Stile said you can’t really put a label on it.
“I’m not really sure that there’s anything that we could compare what our vision is for this district,” she said.
The mayor said even though the district is a few miles away from the historic downtown, the development will still have the same look and feel by showcasing the city’s unique charm.
“We’re still definitely going to keep in line with the Mount Dora charm and the quaintness as much as you can with starting with fresh dirt,” Stile said.
After years of planning, there are signs of movement. Stile said a developer recently purchased 550 acres. She adds while the plans are still in the works, they will fit with their vision.
“They’re going to touch on the healthcare, the education, the industrial, the retail and then, of course, mixed-use residential, so they’re really going to cover exactly what was planned,” Stile said.
While Stile said she can’t say how long it will take for dirt to become development, she’s looking forward to what’s to come.
“It’s going to be a boost to the entire city as a whole once we get up and running in the innovation district,” Stile said.
Click here for more information on the Wolf Branch Innovation District.