Two totally unrelated subjects on my mind heading into the Labor Day weekend that I’ll forget if I don’t write about them now.
(Sometimes the thinking behind these blogs really is that simple.)
Subject one: Don’t mess with Floral City heritage.
Subject two: Crystal River Mall sale.
Going to tackle the second one first.
I was really curious to see how much the new owners, CR19 Holdings LLC, paid for the mall. No one’s going to tell me that, of course, but I started looking for the deed late last week on the clerk of court’s website and there it was:
That’s not the total though. In June, CR 19 Holdings purchased for $1.5 million the vacant outparcels. So that’s $9.7 million total.
The prior owner paid $1.5 million for the same property just six years ago. It’s assessed for tax purposes at $1.8 million.
See where I’m going with this — $1.5 million for the Crystal River Mall in 2016; $9.7 million today.
You can understand why the city of Crystal River is a little giddy about the prospects on that property. All the stuff I’ve read and heard suggests everyone’s on the same page, even as we await details.
The sale brings exciting potential for the city on a site that, let’s face it, has run neck-and-neck with the Crystal Square Shopping Center as lead head-scratcher challenges at City Hall for quite some time.
Thirty years ago the developer of the Crystal River Mall was certain growth was coming to that neck of the Citrus County woods. Others thought the same thing. For various reasons, it didn’t happen.
Now it’s attracting the same type of interest once again. I’m with Crystal River on this one. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
And now back to subject one.
My heroes of the week are the fine residents of historic Floral City who proved once again they’re not to mess with when it comes to protecting the Avenue of Oaks and community heritage.
The basics: Former Commissioner Scott Adams had a zoning request before the County Commission to build a gas station/convenience store on the corner of Istachatta Road and C.R. 48, a little east from the historic district.
Naturally, local residents hated the plan.
Excessive noise. Bright lights in what is now a dark nighttime sky. Trucks on narrow Istachatta Road. And the likelihood that more commercial zoning would follow.
But their chief concern was protecting Orange Avenue, or the Avenue of Oaks, from more traffic that would be enticed to Floral City and U.S. 41 by this new gas station.
Heavy hitters from Floral City’s heritage community spoke their piece. I recognized some names — Tom and Paulette Ritchie, Marsha Beasley among them — and listened as they spoke passionately about keeping the community’s heritage intact, with as little manufactured interference as possible.
(True story: I once visited the gravesite of Mark Twain’s cousin on someone’s farm in Floral City. It was Tom Ritchie who confirmed the details and told me where to look.)
A resident mentioned Tuesday about Floral City protecting its identity the same way Old Homosassa does. I sat in the back nodding my head. Exactly.
The county commission voted 4-1 against Adams, with Commissioner Jeff Kinnard voting yes. He thought Adams had a good plan.
Scott, by the way, wasn’t there. I texted him and he said he was returning from North Florida with a load of cattle.
“We are moving 100 head of cows back to Floral City right now,” he texted back.
I like Scott, but this gas station idea seemed doomed from the start. Floral City’s residents made sure of it.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.