Glades County’s progress lauded at dinner

MOORE HAVEN — Executive Director Tracy Whirls’ report to members and friends of the Glades County Economic Development Council had the definite feel of a congratulatory telegram without the “stop” between sentences.

She spoke Thursday night, Oct. 10, at the Doyle Conner Building as attendees of the annual dinner and meeting were finishing their steak-and-potatoes repast and anticipating the keynote address by U.S. Rep. Greg Steube.

“I’m here to tell you that 2019 has been a good year for Glades County but that 2020 is going to be a great year. I said that at the Glades County TDC meeting last week, and someone said, ‘You always say that.’ So you be the judge.” (Ms. Whirls is also executive director of the Tourism Development Council.)

These were among the good-news items she was eager to share:
• New Moore Haven LLC — The redevelopment of the former Glades Inn site is proceeding into design and engineering phases, with construction to start in 2020. “I’m happy to say that the agreement between the board of county commissioners and New Moore Haven LLC has, I think it has, been signed. And I was just talking to Tommy Perry (engineer with Johnson-Prewitt), and he’s hoping to begin construction probably in about 12 months,” Ms. Whirls said. Planned are a new branded three-story hotel; four units of commercial office space; a 160-seat family fast casual restaurant; and four units of workforce housing.
• Heron Bay — “Everglades Environmental Site Development will begin clearing the 11.47-acre property Heron Bay property on U.S. 27 just north of the Glades Inn site here shortly, and Boss Contracting is hoping to build 1,100-square-foot workforce apartments with a pool and other amenities on 9 acres in the back, and they’re still deciding what they’re going to do with the 2 acres of commercial in front,” she said.
• Maxant Buttons — “One of our new e-commerce companies here, Maxant Buttons, just completed construction of a new 1,200-square-foot addition on their property and the creation of the first opportunity fund in Moore Haven that’s being invested in the first qualified opportunity business in Moore Haven. You’ll be hearing a lot more about opportunity funds and opportunity zones and what all that means in the coming year,” Ms. Whirls reported.
• Burma Spice — “Not to be outdone, their neighbor on Florida Avenue, Burma Spice, just recently secured an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan to expand their product lines, add new employees and they’re going to be expanding their building.”
• River Forest Yachting Center — “In Ortona, River Forest Yachting Center has completed work on another 50,000-square-foot building capable of housing 150 vessels, and we’re hoping that permitting can be secured soon to allow them to begin constructing a new basin for staging yachts for storage or launch, as part of their $4 million expansion,” she said.
• Caloosahatchee Resort — “On the other side of the river, having secured their zoning once a little wrinkle is worked out on a disputed U.S. Army Corps easement, the Caloosahatchee Resort which is next to Sportsman’s Village will begin construction on, I think, 69 first-class RV sites for transient RVers, a clubhouse, laundry and screened pool with sauna, bathhouse and some commercial operations in a little strip mall there, that will probably include a snack bar, salon and some other things,” reported Ms. Whirls.
• Creative Placemaking — “We’ll be continuing partnering with Glades Electric, the city, county and school board and other folks here to continue a Creative Placemaking visioning strategic planning exercise that’s begun, that we’re hoping to work through to get additional funding to get the Glades County Regional Training Facility up and operating. We hope to also spur some new housing development in the county and, maybe once that new construction happens and folks move into town, we might even get a grocery store!”

Glades County has been without a full-service grocery store for several years.

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