City leaders hope Leesburg will become next "medical hub"



The Leesburg city budget has been cut by millions of dollars over the past several years, but now more than $50 million in new investment money is on the table.

Channel 9's Berndt Petersen found out some city officials want to make Leesburg central Florida's next 'medical hub'.

Across from Leesburg's Venetian Gardens along Lake Harris, there are 55 acres of wooded land that's being targeted for a large medical complex where healthcare professionals would work and live.

"Venetian Isles is the tentative name of the development. This is a $40 million dollar project," said Robert Sargent with the City of Leesburg.

The plans are already in the hands of city leaders. They call for the construction of assisted living facilities, doctor's offices, a pharmacy and residential areas.

The land is just across the street from Leesburg Regional Medical Center, where construction of a new 19,000 square foot urgent care clinic and corporate offices are already underway.

For a city that has struggled in recent years due to declining property tax revenues, new business is exactly what officials are looking for.

"We are seeing more and more businesses checking in with Leesburg and moving in. One of the locations we've had here empty for quite some time is an old K-Mart building," Sargent said.

That building is now being renovated for midwest-based company Rural King to move in, city leaders said.

"The economy seems to be up-ticking nationally. And in central Florida, we're seeing the trend picking up in development," Sargent said.

The plans also call for a hotel and restaurants that will all be part of the medical complex. Leesburg officials said they hope construction can start in 2014.