a big chunk of downtown Avondale Estates hopes to turn it into "a thriving, walkable commercial area where people want to congregate."
That's the vision expressed by Fisher Paty, a member of Oakhurst Realty Partners.
on East College Avenue that starts at the old Towne movie theater and stretches around the corner to the Trilogy Bookstore.
The purchase cheered local leaders, who've seen the sour economy dash previous redevelopment efforts.
"We think it's the first step in the revitalization of downtown Avondale Estates," Mayor Ed Rieker said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Greece.
Avondale Estates business district has long had an image problem. Run-down and vacant buildings are found throughout the area, though the property that just changed hands has only three vacancies.
Oakhurst Realty will try to create a "neighborhood center" and seek tenants that make people want to hang out downtown, Paty said.
Turnover in tenants will happen over time, Rieker said. The current businesses in the building include a tax service, insurance office, barber shop, dry cleaner, lawyer's office and new age bookstore.
A big step, Paty said, will be finding the right tenant for the Towne theater, by far the largest empty building downtown. He hopes it can become some sort of theater again or perhaps a space devoted to the arts.
"It's a great opportunity we don't want to squander," he said.
Oakhurst Realty Partners would start by renovating the exterior of the building, with work possibly starting in a few months, then improve the interior of the shops.
Paty said the company couldn't do "anything crazy" with the exterior because it's on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Our goal is to be good stewards to that historic structure," Paty said.
Paty said the pace of redevelopment might be affected by how other properties are developed.
For instance, several tracts scattered around Avondale Estates have been in limbo because a previous developer, Century Retail of Florida, went into bankruptcy.
That company had big plans, including a Publix grocery store. Rieker said the bank and the bankruptcy court appear close to concluding the case. That could spur more redevelopment.
The largest open space in Avondale Estates, the former site of the Fenner-Dunlop factory, is also ripe for development. It was not part of the bankruptcy case.
Do you think their ideas will work in Avondale Estates?
Other stories about Avondale Estates redevelopment.