Most Mount Dora businesses survive Phase 1 of downtown road construction

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MOUNT DORA, Fla. —

Some Mount Dora business owners are relieved a popular construction project has wrapped up, saying they could have gone bankrupt had it lasted any longer.

For months, parts of the historic downtown have been closed while the city replaced the storm drain system and sidewalks.

"A few people went out of business, which is a shame," said merchant Dawn Rigby. "We just tried to tough it out and remain one of the antique stores in downtown Mount Dora."

The city spent the past five months pouring and bricking new sidewalks, installing underground utility lines and building a new pedestrian mall but during much of the work, some of the roads were torn to pieces.

Business owners said shoppers stayed away, but city officials said Phase 1 of the $4 million streetscape project was a success.

"Very happy.  Our construction crew and city staff, everyone worked very well together, especially through some challenging times during the rainy season," said city spokesperson Kelda Senior.

When a flash flood sunk parts of Third Avenue and swallowed a couple of cars and a crane, the roadway wasn’t repaired right away.  But the holes have now been patched, and the parking spaces restored.

Rigby admits it all looks great and her shop survived, but Phase 2 begins next summer.

"Maybe in the next phase they'll take more into consideration about keeping the businesses open and making sure everybody is able to get to the businesses," said Rigby.

The city will hold a reopening ceremony Friday at 4 p.m.