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Now that mall is closed, here's what happens next to the property

Spencer Bartram said he’s taking his time to put together a complete conceptual plan showing his plans for redeveloping the Crystal River Mall.

But he told the Chronicle on Thursday he plans to build the same kind of retail-residential mix that has proven successful at his previous development at the Gulf View Square Mall in Pasco County.

“It’s very similar to what we will propose,” he said.

Bartram, vice president at Miami-based Dorvidor Management Company, spent millions two years ago tearing down a portion of the vacant Macy’s and vacant JC Penney retail space at the Port Richey mall and built 312 senior apartments called Gables at Gulf View on what was formerly a parking lot.

The apartments entail some 35 acres and are located behind the mall.

Bartram has this down pat. Including Gulf View, Dorvidor operates six residential complexes in the Tampa Bay region.

And he’s been successful. Gables at Gulf View is 100 percent leased, he said.

Bartram said it is premature to discuss the project before his company closes on the 34-acre property, scheduled for the end of August.

But he told the Chronicle the apartments and townhomes he wants to build in Crystal River will be “market rate workforce housing.” No subsidized housing, he said.

Prices at Gulf View range from $1,295 for a 790-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment to $2,160 for a 1,440-square-foot, three bedroom suite.

Bartram said he’s excited to show the community the plans.

And he’s not the only one.


“We are extremely excited and appreciative for the investment into Crystal River,” Crystal River Mayor Joe Meek said. “Based on their previous projects and their communication with the city, this looks like an ideal project for re-development of this site.

“We are particularly excited about their desire to make this project fit with the city’s long-range master plan that was developed this past year,” he said.

But while the apartments have proven a hit, the Gulf View Square Mall still has not attracted people.

Bartram said the pandemic occurred right about the time the apartments opened and hurt the mall. The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council is working with the county on a redevelopment project to revitalize the mall and surrounding areas.

The Chronicle made repeated attempts to talk with Pasco County officials, but they did not return calls.

In a recent letter to the Crystal River City Council, Bartram disclosed the following:

Our concept for the redevelopment of the site includes apartments, townhomes and retail.

We are confident that our development plan is consistent with the 2022 Crystal River civic master plan.

We look forward to presenting a conceptual plan to the city in early October and it is our intention to work closely with the city of Crystal River at the appropriate time.

Crystal River Mayor Joe Meek said Dorvidor has not yet submitted anything official regarding plans.

It’s no secret that a housing shortage – especially in the workforce realm – is sorely needed in Citrus County.

“A mixed-use, retail and especially, multi-family housing development, are severely needed in our area,” Meek said. “The city looks forward to working with the new owners and assisting in any way to move this forward.”

28% of state legislative incumbents face contested primaries

Thirty-two of the 114 Florida state legislators who filed for re-election — 13 Democrats and 19 Republicans – will face contested primaries on Aug. 23. This represents 28 percent of incumbents who filed for re-election, the highest figure compared to the four preceding election cycles.

A primary is contested when more candidates file than there are nominations available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Historically, however, incumbents tend to win contested primaries in Florida.

Between 2014 and 2020, 71 incumbents faced contested primaries in the state, six of whom – five Democrats and one Republican – lost. This gives incumbents a primary win rate of 92 percent.

The rate of contested primaries – including those without incumbents – is similar to previous election cycles.

There are 81 contested primaries: 32 for Democrats and 49 for Republicans. This represents 25 percent of all possible primaries.

For Democrats, this is down from 38 in 2020, a 16 percent decrease. For Republicans, the number increased by 44 percent from 34 in 2020 to 49 this year.

Overall, 376 candidates – 161 Democrats and 215 Republicans – filed to run for the state’s 120 House and 40 Senate districts.

Florida has had a Republican trifecta since 2010 when the party won control of the governorship. Republicans currently hold a 76-42 majority in the House, with two vacancies, and a 23-16 majority in the Senate, with one vacancy.

Florida’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for Aug. 23, the 15th primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

Annual ‘Royal Run’ set for Saturday, Sept. 17 in Inverness

Get your favorite sneakers ready for this year’s sixth annual Royal Legacy Foundation’s Royal Run 5K/One-Mile Walk and Kids Fun Run Saturday, Sept. 17, at Citrus High School in Inverness.

The race begins at 7:30 a.m. and Kids Fun Run begins at 8:15 a.m.

“Last year we had a good turnout after the year before when we couldn’t do it because of COVID, so this year we’re expecting another good turnout, especially now that people are getting out more,” said April Royal, founder of the legacy foundation. “We hope to get about 300 to 350 people.”

The annual fundraising event enables the Phil Royal Legacy Foundation to help local charitable causes.

The goal is to raise $15,000 to help provide scholarships for safety patrol students to go to Washington, D.C., next summer; scholarships for the Royal EMT Program, Withlacoochee Technical College Law Enforcement Academy and Citrus County Firefighters and also to help fund the All Kids Bike program.

The All Kids Bikes learn-to-ride program provides kindergarten classes in Citrus County, public and private schools, with the opportunity for students to learn how to ride a bike by age 6.

“We are still providing helmets for the students, plus we’re adding another school to the program this year,” Royal said.

The Royal 5K Run starts at Citrus High School and follows a course around the Highland Boulevard area.

There’s also an option for a 1-mile walk and a free fun run for kids.

The Royal Run evolved from an idea the late Phil Royal had when he worked as a Citrus County Sheriff’s Office school resource officer at Crystal River Middle School where he was concerned about some of the at-risk students.

As an avid runner, he thought the students also might like to get into running. To make it enticing to them, he posed a challenge: Who wants to try to “beat the sheriff?”

Royal and then-sheriff Jeff Dawsy started the annual Beat the Sheriff 5K race, with the first one at the Crystal River Mall in 1997.

In 2016, the race was renamed the Royal Run 5K/One-Mile Walk and Kids Fun Run after Royal died July 18, 2016, after a morning run on the first day of that year’s Key Training Center Run for the Money.

Ever since then, the goal is to beat Phil’s last “Beat the Sheriff” time: 26:36 minutes.

“We usually have about 40 people beat his time,” April Royal said. “They get a ‘Faster Than Phil’ award with a certificate signed by me.”

They also get “cool Royal Legacy swag,” like a sweatband or beanie.

To register for this year’s Royal Run, go online at

For information, visit the website at, Facebook page at or email April Royal at