Orlando Sanford International Airport (OSIA) President andCEO Larry Dale announced last week that he will retire effective Sept. 30.

Following Dale’s announcement at last week’s Sanford Airport Authority meeting, Vice President Diane Crews was nominated to fill Dale’s spot once he retires. However authority members reconsidered and will discuss the selection process at April’s meeting.

David Maus no longer does “whatever it takes,” at least not in Central Florida. But billionaire Warren Buffett soon will.

In July, Maus sold his minority partnership stake in the portfolio of Central Florida auto dealerships – including 3 in Sanford – that bore his name for $20 million back to Van Tuyl Group Inc., the nation’s largest privately-owned auto dealership group.

The developer behind a possible redevelopment of Sanford’s old train depot says he is “very positive about the city of Sanford,” and hopes to bring the project before a city board in October.

I reported last week that the train depot could be turned into an indoor food market. LINK

Since that time, I spoke directly to the gentleman undertaking the project. He asked not to be named at this time. I can tell you this, he is a Deberry resident with a business background, he currently has a retail shop on Park Avenue in Winter Park and he tried to buy Sanford’s iconic PICO Building three years ago. The name of The Sanford project is Bohemian Marketplace.

He confirmed that the project would be similar to the East End Market in Audubon Park in Orlando – an indoor food bazaar – with one big difference: Sanford’s market will have much more non-food related retail.

“You have to give people a reason to be there, ” the gentleman said. “At markets like the East End you go in for some coffee or some bread, but there’s nothing to keep you there for any time.”

A conceptual drawing of a proposed indoor market at Sanford's old train  with additional space provided by old shipping containers and railroad cars. Photo credit: ILuv Winter Park (posted on the site's Swarm account)
A conceptual drawing of a proposed indoor market at Sanford’s old train with additional space provided by old shipping containers and railroad cars. Photo credit: ILuv Winter Park (posted on the site’s Swarm account)

Downtown Sanford may soon be getting a new development … and, no, I’m not talking about Marina Island.

According ILuv Winter Park‘s Facebook page, as well as my sources here in Sanford, the old train depot located at 212 W. 1st St. (Corner of North Myrtle Avenue and 1st Street) could be the site of a trendy new retail experience.

Rob Hawkins
Rob Hawkins recently purchased the building at the northwest corner of 2nd Street and Park Ave. He plans to spend $150,000 renovating the property and open a barbecue restaurant.

Rob Hawkins is an unassuming man. But don’t let his calm demeanor fool you: He’s a man on a mission to rid downtown Sanford of blight.

Hawkins is the owner of Insurance Risk Services, a 35-year-old company that provides field underwriting support for the insurance industry. More importantly, he is the owner of three buildings in the 100 block of Park Avenue.

His most recent purchase is the long under-utilized gas station/bus terminal building at the northwest corner of 2nd Street and Park Avenue.

wops hops
Greg Piecora, left, and Peter Minelga, plan to open Wops Hops Brewing Co. in the Stokes Fish Market building on Sanford Ave.

Greg Piecora evaluated a number of places to locate his business, Wops Hops Brewing Co. Conventional wisdom dictated that Winter Park and Maitland were among the top choices.

Piecora chose Sanford.

“I love a city with personality, and Sanford has personality,” Piecora says. “We could have been anywhere, but this city has a heartbeat. The history, the people, the vibe — this place is real.”

chipotleDining options in Sanford will expand later this summer when two fast-causal restaurants open in the Marketplace at Seminole Towne Center.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has developed a loyal following for its use of organic ingredients, and Giraffas Brazilian Steaks & Burgers, a new restaurant concept in Central Florida, will open in a newly constructed building located at the 308,571-squre-foot retail center anchored by Target.

Support Sanford Ave BizWhat a difference a couple of weeks makes.

Business owners along Sanford Avenue were upset when they learned the city of Sanford planned to close their street on March 3 for as long as four months to complete a $2.5 million streetscape project. (“City’s bumbling threatens local businesses”)

Tempers flared at times during a Feb. 25 meeting, the first in series of regularly scheduled meetings between city officials and business owners to discuss the project.

It’s back to the future for downtown Sanford’s newest business.

Rabbitfoot Records Coffee Lounge plans to open Friday, March 7, and sell records – the vinyl kind that require a turntable.

“”We’re not selling CDs. This will be an old-fashioned type record store,” says Rob Wallace, co-owner of Rabbitfoot Records.

By Dan Ping

Paulii Buster has invested tens of thousands of dollars to turn a vacate space on Sanford Avenue into a sleek, modern Belgium beer pub that regularly draws customers from outside of Sanford — including players from the Orlando City Soccer Club.

When the city of Sanford’s Downtown Waterfront Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) announced it would spend $2.5 million to reconstruct Sanford Avenue to upgrade utilities, widen sidewalks, and enhance lighting and landscaping, Buster knew his business, Buster’s Bistro, would suffer and he made plans to mitigate the construction.

He never thought the work would virtually shut off access to his pub.