Sanford street to get costly makeover

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SANFORD, Fla. - One of the main streets in Sanford is about to get a major makeover. The city is about to spend big bucks to redo Sanford Avenue between First and Sixth streets.

Along that six-block stretch of Sanford Avenue, it's not hard to find "For Rent" signs hanging in the windows. Many of the existing stores along the street weren't open for business Thursday afternoon.

"It's kind of dull at the moment," said Harry Graham of Buster's Bistro.

The owners of Buster's Bistro said they poured more than a $100,000 into the business about four months ago.

They said they're happy the city is doing its part to renovate with new sidewalks, landscaping and taking up the asphalt to reveal the brick street beneath.

"I hope when the streetscape is done, you'll see more people traveling from First Street because it won't be as intimidating to walk down," said Graham.

Foot traffic is the problem on Sanford Avenue now. There is very little of it. The city hopes that its $2.5 million project will change that.

Officials foresee a street busy with people, like it was in the 1940s and 1950s, when parades marched down the road.

"Are taxpayers going to be on the hook to pay for this project?" Channel 9's Racquel Asa asked Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett.

"We've been saving the money for this. This is a special district, so it's not taxpayer money from anywhere outside the (Community Redevelopment Agency) district," said Triplett.

That means people outside of the downtown taxing district won't pay for the improvements, which Graham said can't come soon enough.

"People won't feel like they're taking a gamble when they open up something in a nicer neighborhood," said Graham.

The city will start construction on the project by Aug. 1. It is expected to take about 10 months to complete.