Eatonville revives development plan

Eatonville revives development plan

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The city of Eatonville is dusting off development plans in the hopes of reviving the nation's oldest black township. Eatonville was formed in 1887, but has been in financial hard times. Vice Mayor Alvin Moore wants something done.

"We actually at this point in time have lost a lot of revenue basically because of foreclosure crisis and we now need to increase our revenue."

His plan is not a new one. The city has few options because of the large number of churches and schools in the town that do not pay taxes. Moore thinks the best option is redeveloping the site where Hungerford Prep School sits at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Wymore Street.
"The only way to protect the residents and to secure our future and to remember our past is to bring in new growth."

The old prep school is historical for students like NFL Hall of Famer Deacon Jones and being a segregated school for black students in the days before Brown v. Board of Education. Alvin Moore's redevelopment plan calls for 50 million dollars to be poured into the 100 acre site by a private developer, including a "sports dome".

"It's built as a Sports Dome, but it is fully conventional capabilities, meaning it can have concerts. It can have church revivals. We can move the Zora Festival inside. We'll be able to have football, which the arena Predators already play (practice) on this field."

Moore says the development plans call for 100 single family homes, 250 apartments, and 300 thousand square feet of retail.

"There is an affordable home issue in Orange County and we need to make sure we are part of the solution."

The city faces huge hurdles in trying to pull off this plan. They would have to find a developer willing to sink 50 million dollars into a project. They would also have to acquire the land. It is owned by the Orange County School District and deeded to them by the Hungerford family in a trust. The family would have to approve any activity on the site that does not involve education. Moore believes the family will since some of the site is being preserved for historical purposes.

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