J.T. Williams, with his wife, Tina, owns and operates Sugarboo’s Bar-B-Q, a restaurant that for 16 years has been located on Grandview Street in Mount Dora.

Williams said people come from all over to sample his cooking.

Williams said he believes that notoriety comes from social media marketing and rating websites he utilizes, word of mouth and write-ups in magazines and newspapers touting his barbecue as one of the best in Florida.

But within Mount Dora, Sugarboo’s is something of a hidden gem.

It's the same scenario for Ivory’s Take-Out, a popular soul food restaurant next door to Sugarboo’s.

The owners of some other businesses in what's considered the Grandview Business District, including a grocery store, laundromat, barbershop and pool hall, say with the city’s help, they could be more successful.

“I’ve always said that the city thinks of the east side (downtown Mount Dora) as a completely separate area from Grandview Street,” Williams said. “The northeast section is a part of Mount Dora, however, and it needs to be treated as such.”

Last week, representatives of Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA), a consulting firm hired by the city on behalf of the Grandview’s North East Community Redevelopment Agency board to look at the condition of the district, presented findings to the city officials of a market analysis started last April.

The board approved the analysis and agreed to revisit formulating a plan after the NECRA board had time to set priorities.

"I don't think anyone was aware of some of the issues," City Manager Robin Hayes said Friday.

RMA's findings pinpointed the main problem as a disconnect between the two districts.

“I don’t look at it from political boundaries. I don’t look at it that I’m in the Grandview Business District that has boundaries right now that are too small we believe," said Lynn Dehlinger, RMA's senior economic development manager.

Dehlinger said Mount Dora should expand on the strong brand it has by capitalizing on some of the stronger businesses and history within Grandview.

Other things she said it can focus on are the Martin Luther King Center, as far as events and programs, its parks and the lakes.

She also said vacant lots should be marketed to locals interested in opening  businesses in the area to maintain authenticity.

Dehlinger said improving the area is vital because of major projects on the horizon, like the Wolf Branch Innovation District and the Wekiva Parkway, both of which are expected to generate new visitors and residents.

Kevin Crowder, RMA’s director of economic development, also suggested involving Grandview in city's events, advertising their events and a path that connects the two areas since less than a mile separates them.

He also said it is important to improve people's perception of the area.

“I think for a while, at least from my view, and this is my personal view, the northeast community has been perceived to be kind of a stepchild of Mount Dora and that’s a shame,” said Councilman Cal Rolfson, a strong proponent of the Grandview community.

Councilman Mark Slaby said his concerns lie in creating a second downtown area in the Northeast Business District that may segregate it further from the downtown district. He said he is open to future planning based on the study.

Jasper Tate, a 30-year resident of Grandview, said working together would be good for residents of both areas.

"I think people think that once you cross 11th Street, you're riding on the bad side of town but you ain't," Tate said. "If they (city) are going to clean up one side of town, why not clean up the other side? If they are going to provide for the kids in one area, do the same for the kids in the other area."

Maria Thomas, who owns Ivory's, said she thinks the city is headed in that direction. She used this past Christmas as an example. She said that after appealing to city officials, Christmas lights were placed all the way down Grandview Street for the first time.

Williams said he thinks things will change.

"It's a slow process, but I think eventually, we'll get to where we need to. I think the study helped open people's eyes," Williams said.