As The Bokey first reported last April, prominent attorney Mark Nation of The Nation Law Firm has purchased a large chunk of land in downtown Sanford.

Nation purchased nearly all of the 1.5-acre block that is bounded on the east and west by Oak and Myrtle avenues, between 2nd and 3rd streets. Except for three buildings totaling 7,254 square feet, the block is vacant.

Nation is still creating a vision for the vacant land, but he did meet with Sanford planners last week to talk about renovating one of the three buildings, a two-story structure built in 1918.

Though the building has been home to a series of establishments that define the term “dive bar,” the structure has some pretty cool history. At one time it belonged to Chase & Co., an agriculture firm founded in 1884 – seven years after the city of Sanford was incorporated. Chase & Co. operates today as Sunniland Corp., and is one of the oldest businesses in Central Florida.

The renovation plan Nation submitted calls for a restaurant with outdoor seating at ground level, as well as a second-floor, wrap-around terrace. The inside of the building would feature more private second-floor mezzanine seating overlooking the first-floor dining area and open kitchen.

Click to enlarge. Top: View standing on Oak Avenue looking west; Bottom: View standing on 2nd Street looking south. Credit: Allen Arthur Architect
Click to enlarge. Top: View standing on Oak Avenue looking west; Bottom: View standing on 2nd Street looking south. Credit: Allen Arthur Architect

City planners were generally positive about the concept, but noted there would be some issues to work out regarding a terrace overhanging a public sidewalk, particularly if the plan called for support columns in the public right-of-way.

As for the rest of the property, Nation said he has several ideas. He said the project could be developed as a city square concept, with a central open space and connected walkways. Nation is considering some fee-simple residential units with zero-lot-lines, as opposed to standard apartment or townhouse residential. Nation stressed that those ideas are just that – ideas.

Note: I wrote a version of this story which first appeared on GrowthSpotter, an online commercial real estate publication that does exactly what the name suggests – spots growth and development in Central Florida.

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