The Villages has submitted construction plans for seven apartments at the former home of Katie Belle’s at Spanish Springs Town Square.
The Villages filed the construction plans with the Town of Lady Lake on Nov. 16 – one day after the Lady Lake Commission voted to end its 33-year-old Development of Regional Impact agreement with the Developer.
Also on Nov. 16, The Villages dropped its lawsuit against the Town of Lady Lake for voting 3-2 in February in opposition to apartments at the square.
“This has always sounded fishy to me. Now it’s beginning to stink,” Mayor James Rietz said last week after the town’s attorney revealed that The Villages was willing to drop the lawsuit if the commission rescinded the DRI. Even though the commission voted 5-0 to rescind the DRI, some commissioners remain suspicious of The Villages’ apparent quid pro quo.
The closing of Katie Belle’s last year has been a sore point with long-time residents. Though the closure of Katie Belle’s was blamed on COVID-19, residents suspected the legendary dining and dancing location at the square was already on the chopping block and COVID-19 provided an excuse for shutting it down. In 2015, Katie Belle’s was chopped down to size, eliminating the dance floor that so many Villagers loved. When Katie Belle’s reopened in 2016 after the renovation, many were disappointed.
Residents fear that nightly entertainment at Spanish Springs Town Square will end as apartments take over the second-story commercial space above Margarita Republic and Dunkin’ Donuts.
“I truly believe the Developer is up to no good. So much has been taken away from the residents who helped make The Villages what it is today. Go to Lake Sumter Landing any night and then go to Spanish Springs. One is alive and one is dying,” said Rietz, a resident of the Historic Side of The Villages.