Brewery set to move into former fire station

The old Ocala Fire Rescue Station No. 1 is shown by Tuscawilla Park in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted April 27, 2021 | By Ainslie Lee,

The old Ocala Fire Rescue Station No. 1 is shown on April 20. Infinite Ale Works plans to relocate to the location from its current location on Magnolia Avenue. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

The former fire station building overlooking Lake Tuscawilla just north of Silver Springs Boulevard has sat empty for years. But that will soon change as a local brewery plans to relocate to the firehouse.

Infinite Ale Works, currently housed at 304 S. Magnolia Ave., will relocate to the former fire station at 410 NE 3rd St. once renovations are complete.

On April 20, the Ocala City Council unanimously approved the agreement with McDonald Properties & Investments, LLC. The company is owned by Tom McDonald and Mike Owen, who also own Pi on Broadway.

While the city hopes the project will be done by February 2024, McDonald has more ambitious plans. He hopes to open in early 2022.

“I think it’s an interesting property,” McDonald said. “The city was really motivated for activation over there.”

The city sold the one-acre parcel that houses the old Ocala Fire Rescue Station No. 1 to McDonald Properties & Investments for one dollar. The property is valued at $360,000, according to the Marion County property appraiser.

The city also committed to making improvements to water, sanitary sewer, electric and internet utilities on the boundary of the property. The city will also install parking spaces, sidewalks, bicycle racks and streetlights.

The deal includes reimbursement of up to $100,000 for roof repairs to the 1984 building during the first year. The city will then pay $25,000 per year for five years after that.

“There were some concerns with the building and whether or not it was relevant and make sure the business had an opportunity to really flourish and activate the area,” McDonald said. “And I think that’s the key factors that played into that deal structure.”

According to Ashley Dobbs, spokeswoman for the City of Ocala, the project includes a micro-brewery and restaurant. A micro-distillery is also possible.

Despite his background in the bar business, McDonald said the project has its challenges.

“It is kinda a big risk to move from the south side of 40, where everything seems to be exploding, over to an area that is going to be depending on creating a destination,” McDonald said. “There was that concern for the business, and if the business wasn’t successful, it wouldn’t help activate the area.”

The city has been trying to attract a business to take over the property since 2018 after it released its Ocala Vision Plan that targeted certain properties in the area. The city received two proposals from developers, including one from Pine Gap Investment Group, LLC.

However, after that deal fell through in late 2019, McDonald’s group slid in a day later.

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