0710 Chronicle Week in Review: Inverness makes way for road construction in 2023, construction of major shopping center nears, shopping center set to close on August 30 and drivers must keep noise down | Local News
Some of the most popular stories of the week
US 41 widening forces KFC in Inverness to close
After decades of discussing the need to widen US 41, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has planned a project that will widen US 41 between State Road 44 and the Withlacoochee State Trail Bridge from two lanes to one four-lane divided road with cycle paths and sidewalks.
Unfortunately the KFC on US 41 in Inverness which was completely renovated in 2019 was in the way. It closed on June 30 and, along with other nearby properties, is set to be razed.
Plans call for the restaurant chain to reopen in a new location in six months near the Pizza Hut on West Main Street.
Road construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2023, with the road widening from Middle School Road to Live Oak Lane expected to begin in 2025. The final segment – from Live Oak Lane to Arlington – has not yet fully acquired all necessary right of way to widen the track.
Inverness station cafe is about to open
If there had ever been a business in Inverness that was a team effort, the Train Station Café near Liberty Park would be high on the list.
The building, rented by two Citrus County businesswomen, Vickie Humphrey and Caroline Jenkins, is the town’s former train station. It is now a cafe.
The city paid $1.3 million to renovate the 3,600 square building and move it to its current location.
The city also had to make the building fit for use. This is because the city left the building without finished toilets, ceilings, interior walls and floors with plans to complete the installation when it leased the building. It took the city more than two years to find someone to rent the building.
The business, which opened for Inverness Independence Day celebrations on July 3 as part of its lease with the City Council, will eventually include a bowling alley, other assorted games and a baking oven pizza to serve pizza to customers, as well as ice cream, coffee and beer and wine.
Humphries said bowling equipment and the pizza oven were delayed.
“We think we’ll have a grand opening in October,” she said, expecting the equipment to have arrived and installed. “Everything will be fine until then.”
Target, Aldi and other stores are getting closer to reality
The arrival of Target, Aldi and a host of other retail stores and restaurants set to open at the intersection of County Roads 491 and 486 in Lecanto is getting closer to reality.
Recently, County Commissioners approved a Planned Unit Development (PUD) allowing retailers to proceed to the next stage of development: lot creation and permit preparation.
In April, Target and Aldi announced they were coming to the intersection of County Roads 491 and 486 in Lecanto.
Other retailers considering moving there include Ulta Beauty, Five Below, Ross Dress for Less, Petsmart, Old Navy and Skechers.
Crystal River Mall will close on August 30
On August 30, the Crystal River Mall will officially close.
What happens after that is unknown.
The closing comes as no surprise to tenants who started receiving notices last month they have had so long to get rid of. Many have already found new locations.
The mall opened in 1990 but has been on shaky ground for years, following the closures of Sears, JCPenney, Kmart, Belk and Regal Cinema. It hasn’t helped that the mall concept has largely fallen out of favor with shoppers nationwide who prefer to shop online.
“The end of an era,” said one of the signs posted on the mall’s door.
Rural King, which has its own building next to the mall, has not announced its closure.
“It’s sad to see it go,” said Andrea Terlunen, a Citrus Coastal Creations employee at the mall. “I wish they kept it, fixed it and had more tenants.”
Florida law cracks down on loud motorists; allows the creation of “special event zones”
Starting July 1, Florida law enforcement can now ticket motorists for traveling on streets or highways with loud music or any amplified sound from their vehicle to where it is heard or “clearly audible” at least 25 feet away.
Unauthorized noise also includes anything that is “louder than necessary for convenient hearing by persons inside the vehicle” in areas near private homes, churches, schools and hospitals.
The penalty: MPs and the police can impose on offending motorists a non-criminal traffic offense without displacement.
“Obviously we’re not going out with tape measure, but 25 feet isn’t very long,” said Lt. Christopher Ball of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. “A deputy probably hears it over 25 feet away when he stops; it’s something that’s going to be glaring and above normal.
Hot topic of the week: News of the Crystal River Mall’s permanent closure on August 30 created a buzz on the Chronicle Facebook page. Here is what some have said:
- Angela Tuten Oglesbee: “As a Citrus County resident, I have many memories of this mall, of being the ‘hangout’ as a teenager, of working at the Kay Jewelers store for years until when it closed, then to manage the Zales store. For those of you who say it was always a failure, it wasn’t… It will be a sad day for me when they tear it down. Lots of memories and long time friendships made there over the years.”
- Steven Tecniq Hodgkins: “It would be nice to see a better rink there.”
- Jan Van Petten: “It had to happen. There is a need for apartments in Crystal River for those who cannot buy.
- Melissa Evans: “They should make it into outlets.”
- Roberta Jeffrey: “It would be nice to see putt-putt golf and a go-kart track in this space. Give families something to do.
- Cathy Lowe: “Put a casino there, it will explode! Restaurants, car washes, etc.
- Jennifer Minnella: “So many memories at this mall with my family – my grandparents taking me shopping for school and all the delicious food at the food court. Sad to see it go but I guess it’s time to change.
- Stephanie Sasser: “It hasn’t been a ‘mall’ for a very long time.”
- Josh White: “I’m glad I had the pleasure of growing up in this county and calling this place our mall for so many years when I was younger. I can’t tell you how many weekends I spent in this place hanging out with friends, shopping for shoes and clothes for school, and let’s not forget all the first dates at the movies there -down. I remember when they came out with the internet pay phones they had there. I loved wandering around Radio Shack just to look at all the cool electronics when I was little. This place has certainly seen its fair share of stores over the years. If you grew up in Citrus County, this place was always your childhood. It’s sad to see him go. In my mind this mall died when JC Penney first closed and they started having air conditioning issues and one by one all the stores started giving up as online shopping became increasingly important.
Quote of the week: “Watching this happen is kind of like (watching) the childhood friend that you really loved grow old and do drugs and then die.” – Jack Judge, commenting on the Chronicle Facebook page on the announcement of the final closure of the Crystal River Mall scheduled for August 30
Good news of the week: Citrus County Library customers can view fruit, vegetable and flower seeds from the Citrus Libraries Seed Library to grow their own gardens.
Seeds courtesy of Lowes, Citrus County UF/IFAS Extension Services, True Leaf Market, Baker Creek, Park Seed, Friends of Homosassa Public Library, and Friends of the City Library. Lake District in Inverness, and are free to the community. members.
The best news: Unlike checking books that must be returned, seeds are non-returnable.