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News Story
Updated: 01/08/2014 03:48:02PM

An update on downtown Lake Wales

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PHOTO BY BILL ROGERS


Pedro Cartagena is the new owner of Downtown Deli in Lake Wales. The restaurant on Park Avenue reopened Monday.

By BILL ROGERS

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A new owner at the Downtown Deli, buildings on the market and businesses relocating are among the changes that have taken place recently in downtown Lake Wales.

The Downtown Deli on Park Avenue has been sold to Pedro Cartagena. Cartagena, a 2003 graduate of Lake Wales High School, bought the eatery from Aaron and Jason Stokes.

It reopened Monday. Hours of operation are 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The restaurant, which can seat 32 on the inside and four more outside, offers speciality sandwiches, subs, salads and soups. There are daily specials.

Cartagena was born in New Jersey, but his family moved to Lake Wales when he was 7.

Cartagena, 29, attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando. He worked for a catering company for three years.

Cartagena worked in the restaurant for Aaron and Jason Stokes for about six months. He said he had heard the rumor that Aaron was thinking about selling and/or closing the eatery.

“We had a small discussion about it,” Cartagena said. “He (Aaron) spoke to his brother; his brother (Jason) got in contact with me. From there it was a very quick transition after that.”

The new owner is not going to make any immediate changes with the menu, saying “If it is not broke don’t fix it.

“But there are certain things that I did want to do myself,” he said. “Like turkey, for instance. I’m roasting my own turkey breast in the morning … same thing with roast beef, same thing with my Spanish pork for the Cuban sandwiches.”

The building where Beans-N-Brushes was located on Stuart Avenue is for sale. Its owners are Lee and Karrie Wallace.

Karrie Wallace said last Friday that there has been interest in the building, which has a little more than 4,000 square feet.

Talking about the café she said “it’s a great location” and could be a good situation for the right person.

The kitchen equipment and furniture are still there and are included.

The Else Group, whose name includes Designs for Castles and Cottages, is also on the market. The building on Stuart is being listed by Realtor Shawn Ricketts of Legacy Real Estate Center Inc.

Ricketts said it is negotiable as to whether the building and its contents are being sold separately or together.

Ricketts said the two-story building has approximately 6,000 square feet with 4,800 on the first floor and 1,200 on the second floor.

The high-end interior design store also has antiques, gifts and a wedding registry.

“It has been impeccably maintained,” Ricketts said.

For more information about the building, contact Ricketts at 321-431-9796. All inquiries should be made to Ricketts.

Improvements have been made to the One Scenic Central building, at the corner of Scenic Highway and Central Avenue, but it remains vacant.

The owner was hoping to interest Polk State College in it as a way to expand its Lake Wales branch.

Jim Ellis, managing member of Ava Properties LLC, wrote in an email to the Lake Wales News that he has invested approximately $50,000 in the building since he bought it in March of last year. He added that he intends to continue to make “substantial improvements” to the property.

“Most recently, I’ve upgraded several of the office suites and this past month, seal-coated and re-striped the parking lot,” he said. “I paid cash for the property, so I don’t have to worry about making mortgage payments. Accordingly, I’m in no rush, have been taking my time and intend to upgrade the property into some of the most desirable office space in downtown Lake Wales. Being located on the busiest street corner of historic downtown Lake Wales, the One Scenic Central property is definitely in a prime location.”

According to Ellis, the real estate market statewide has been improving gradually but steadily since November 2011. Unfortunately, to date, the real estate market recovery in Polk County has lagged behind the rest of Florida.

“Although I currently intend to hold on to the One Scenic Central property until after the one-year anniversary of my purchase, and then put it back for sale on the open market, I’m flexible,” Ellis said in the email. “If the Fair Market Values of downtown Lake Wales properties continue to fall, I’ll “batten the hatches,” rent the office suites at “ultra-competitive rates,” request that the Polk County Property Appraiser lower my “Just Market Value” (like each and every other downtown property owner who doesn’t want to pay more property taxes than the current Fair Market Value of their property dictates) and “ride out the storm” until the local real estate market catches up with the rest of the state. It may take a while — only time will tell.”

The Ouellette Law Firm has moved from Stuart Avenue to a much larger location at 151 Central Ave.

Bill Ouellette said he had 600 square feet of space and now has 8,000 square feet.

Ouellette said the firm is growing and noted that he plans to hire more attorneys and support staff.

The building includes a community room that will be available to groups for meetings. Ouellette said he wants to put a law bench in the room and possibly make it a mock court room.


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