GREG JONES | Staff Writer
The family of citrus baron Frank S. Bouis has a bold vision for 263 acres in Howey-in-the-Hills that could feature a mix of houses, townhomes, commercial uses, a park and even a marina.
The town council recently approved a zoning change from agriculture to mixed-use planned unit development for the property on Little Lake Harris that fronts both State Road 19 and County Road 48.
“This gives us an opportunity to have a usable lakefront with some commercial, a marina, shops that would support tourism, and have a lakefront that would enable citizens from Howey-in-the-Hills and tourists to enjoy and eat down by the water,” Mayor Chris Sears said. “We want to have a walkable lakefront that service everyone.”
Sears believes this project can compliment the nearby Mission Inn. He said the town has embraced the Spanish-style architecture in one land use option called the Coleman-Cline Grove Development.
“We are trying to bring economic development to our town,” Sears said. “That is one of the new concepts for the Town of Howey, but our goal is to be able to have a place where you can live and work.
“We feel this project would be a natural attraction for people to use our lakefront. You can work here and live here, and you can enjoy the water. You can enjoy the marina, the public parks within this project and it is really exciting from that aspect.”
The property is currently for sale and the Bouis family hopes to generate interest from someone to develop the land according to the option drawn up by LPG Urban and Regional Planners of Mount Dora. Sellar, Sewell, Russ, Saylor & Johnson P.A. in Leesburg represents the family and Chuck Johnson said the rezoning makes the property easier to sell because it puts everything in place for a would-be developer.
“It is truly a beautiful piece of property,” Johnson said. “This makes it so much easier to sell because everything is in place for development.”
The Coleman-Cline Grove Development option calls for 76 acres of houses, 61 acres of townhomes and 41 acres of commercial space.
Johnson said the property has the potential to be developed similar to the layout of Tavares, which has retail, restaurants, other businesses and residential use at or near its lakefront.
Sears said the proposed project gives the town a chance to add park space and a variety of commercial businesses that it doesn’t already have. Although market conditions will dictate if and when the property is developed, Sears remains optimistic.
“Probably in the next 24 to 36 months there, you could possibly see some ground breaking activities take place down there,” he said.
Bouis was serving as president of Florida Fruit Company and Montverde Groves, which he operated with his wife and family, when he died last year. Throughout his life, Bouis served on numerous citrus trade associations and citrus and agriculture governmental bodies, including Florida Citrus Mutual and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.
In 2000, he was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame.
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