Article by: Jim Ross

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Road projects, new businesses in store

The state Department of Transportation’s tentative five-year work program includes $1.66 million for design/preliminary engineering work for the new Interstate 75 interchange at Northwest 49th Street. The money will be spent in 2022.

This interchange will serve the commerce park just east of I-75 that houses FedEx and soon will house AutoZone and Chewy. Building the interchange, which will be just north of the existing U.S. 27 interchange, has been a top priority for county government.

The five-year plan also includes $1.445 million for preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition to improve the I-75 interchange at County Road 484 near Belleview. That work will be done in 2019. Also scheduled for that project: $1.1 million for right-of-way acquisition in 2020 and $8.18 million, mostly for construction, in 2021.

Improvements will be made on the east (Southwest 20th Avenue) and west (starting at County Road 475A) sides of the interstate. Improving that interchange area is an important part of the county/private sector plan for a new commerce park just west of I-75 off CR 484. (See related item below.)

In other development news:

Restaurants coming: The new Bojangles’ under construction on State Road 200 near the Market Street at Heath Brook mall could open as soon as December. A new Zaxby’s is being built on U.S. 441 North near 35th Street. And there is a sign for a new cafe coming to the S-Curve area just south of downtown Ocala.

Southwest 49th Avenue: Extending this road is a major project for county government and is among the signature works supported by the voter-approved sales tax increase for capital needs. But it should be noted that the state is kicking in, as well.

The biggest Marion County expenditure for fiscal year 2018-19 in DOT’s five-year work plan is $16.29 million for this project.

More from the DOT work plan: The other major expenditures set for 2018-19, in descending order:

• $12.46 million to resurface State Road 200 between Southwest 60th Avenue and CR 484.

$7.88 million to resurface U.S. 27 between County Road 326 and the Levy County line.

• $7.07 million to improve the weigh station on I-75

• $5.24 million to four-lane State Road 40 to east of County Road 314. This is the single most expensive project on the five-year plan.

• $4.21 million to add lanes and reconstruct U.S. 41 from 111th Place to SR 40

To learn more, view the DOT plan at


Marion Oaks commerce park: The County Commission last week approved a “memorandum of terms” for the new commerce park on the south side of CR 484 a few miles west of I-75.

The McGinley Family has owned the land for years and now is looking, with support from local government and economic development officials, to develop what’s known as the Florida Crossroads Commerce Park, which will be similar to the FedEx-anchored park north of U.S. 27 and just east of Interstate 75.

The memo explains how infrastructure will be handled and spells out what the developer and government are agreeing to do to make way for the park.

Truck repair shop: Dad’s Truck Repair, 3352 NW Blitchton Road, Ocala, has filed a site plan application with the city for a 5,445-square-foot truck repair garage featuring four service bays and an office area.

The owner is Ocala-based TM Davis Holding LLC, which bought the land from Midwest Hay for $1.2 million earlier this year, according to land records on file with the court clerk’s office.

The garage will sit on 6.79 acres. Michael W. Radcliffe Engineering, Inc., is handling the preliminary work.

Funding infusion for Creative Foam Corp.: A private equity firm has made a “significant investment” in this Fenton, Michigan-based company, whose subsidiary, Creative Foam Medical Systems, has a manufacturing facility in Ocala.

Terms of the investment were not announced, but Creative Foam said it will help the company’s growth and expansion.


“Creative Foam Medical Systems is a contract manufacturer of diagnostic imaging equipment that includes RF flex coils, patient positioners, system table pads and acoustical treatments,” Enterprise Florida has previously reported.

The private equity firm, called Industrial Opportunity Partners, is based in Evanston, Illinois and focuses on helping middle-market manufacturing companies with revenues ranging between $30 million and $350 million.

Silver Springs Sandhill: As expected, the state has acquired the 465-acre Silver Springs Sandhill site near Coehadjoe Park. Marion County Parks and Recreation will manage the site, which is less than a mile from the headsprings of Silver Springs.

The site has great environmental value. Its neighbors include Indian Lake State Forest and Coehadjoe, which is at 4225 NE 35th St., Ocala.

A sales price was not announced, but based on land records on file at the court clerk’s office, it was about $5.19 million.