Downtown Ocala to get Makeover
Ocala's downtown area is getting a lot of attention from its City Council.
They want to revitalize the city's Square, bringing in new jobs, homes, restaurants and retail. But exactly what they will build is still up for debate. Tuesday, Ocala's City Council heard proposals from four different developers who weighed in with four different ideas.
The downtown could include a lofty condominium with a swimming pool on the roof along with new restaurants, shops and even an ice skating rink.
One Ocala resident, Aaryn Spell thinks it would be great to revitalize the City's downtown.
"As far as living quarters and restaurants, it would be more metropolitan like Orlando and Tampa," Spell said. "I think it would be wonderful for Ocala. I think Ocala is ready for it."
Ocala thought is was ready for a similar project back in 2007, but due to financial issues and following litigation, that project dropped. This time City Council President, Kent Guinn says they will look at each developer under a microscope. "We won't make the same mistake twice," Guinn said.
The developers competing for the project include Brick City Partners. They would tear down the former Sprint building and construct 18 townhouses with a garage included, plus two mix-use buildings on the former chamber site which is now a parking lot.
Another developer in the mix is Debartolo Development. They would also create a mix-use building on the former chamber site and a public plaza on the Sprint site for events and possibly a seasonal skating rink.
A third developer is McBride Land and Developments who would turn the Sprint building into 13 modern condominiums ranging in price from $180,000 to $350,000.
The fourth contender is White Challis Redevelopment. They proposed to erect three buildings on the Sprint site creating the Brick City Block with residences, townhouses, lofts and commercial spaces. They would also construct another mix-use building on the former chamber site.
Guinn says that including residences is an important part of the downtown redevelopment. "One of the things we are trying to do is make the downtown a residential area, and bring residents to downtown, and make it feel like a neighborhood," he said.
The city will rank the projects in October. Regardless of which project or projects they chose, Guinn explained, one bonus is the number of construction jobs this downtown makeover will create.
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