‘A balancing:’ Mount Dora officials plan to preserve city’s history amid population growth

More than 20 residential, commercial development plans slated to be reviewed in 2023

MOUNT DORA, Fla. – Mount Dora officials are trying to balance growth and the preservation of the city’s history as new residents continue to move into Central Florida.

“We’re going to grow. People don’t want to hear it but we are going to grow,” said Jeanette Bokland of Spouses with Houses, a real estate company nestled in downtown Mount Dora.

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Bokland said she’s seen the growth in the area and the housing market is shifting.

“We have a very tight market,” Bokland said. “You know, interest rates have gone up a little bit, we’re starting to see the inventory of what’s available coming up, but a lot of that comes with the new construction of homes just outside of the downtown area.”

Bokland added it’s simply the vibe of the historic and quaint city that attracts visitors as well as new residents, but with any growth comes issues.

“We have parking needs here, we have improvements that have to be made, we have to expand, we want to keep Mount Dora charming, but there has to be a balancing there to do that,” Bokland said.

It’s balance between growth and preservation that is a strong priority for the city, according to Mount Dora’s Mayor Crissy Stile. She said people can expect to see just that in 2023.

“What we are really focusing on is infill, you know we have some parts of town where there is space to develop before we continue these grandiose development plans that are bringing thousands of people into our population,” Stile said.

She said that approach may help bring more affordable housing to the area.

Currently, there are more than 20 residential and commercial development plans slated to start or be reviewed next year.

One project Stile highlighted was the community resource and recreation center set to be established off Highland Street and Lincoln Avenue.

“You know, something for the kids to do, but also for something for mom and dad or grandma to do to further their careers,” Stile said.

The price tag for the center is around $8 million. Stile said some of that can be funded by the city, but help is needed.

“We are hoping to get a good chunk of that from the state, whether it be (from a) grant or hopefully the (Department) of Economic Opportunity will provide us the grant to really get the ball rolling,” she said.

Bokland added that while development in any capacity can bring heated discussions, everyone is still working for the same goal.

“No matter what side you are on in that debate, the heart says we want to preserve Mount Dora,” Bokland said.

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About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.