The Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency is reimagining the area west of midtown and downtown Lakeland. Now it’s your chance to have an impact on the future of the Downtown West area.
Downtown West will stretch east to west from South Florida Avenue to Lake Beulah Drive, and north to south from Memorial Boulevard to Lime Street. It covers local landmarks like Bonnet Springs Park and the RP Funding Center, plus Lakes Bonnet, Beulah, and Wire. The CRA is hoping to revitalize the area’s businesses, housing, and infrastructure.
Last summer, the Lunz Group first shared a large development planned for the area: A 17-acre mixed-use property at the current site of The Ledger called the Downtown West Gateway, pictured above. The first phase of the development will include mixed-use residential and retail buildings with up to 500 apartment units and a parking garage on the north side of the property.
Since that development news was released, the CRA has been collecting feedback through interviews and a workshop to learn what Lakelanders want to see in the area. The final action plan to guide this five-year development process is set to be presented later this summer.
The last chance to help develop the action plan — and part of Lakeland — is coming up soon. Lakeland’s Community & Economic Development department and CRA are hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, July 11 from 6-8 p.m. at the RP Funding Center.
While we wait, we’re dreaming of what we’d like to see in Downtown West. What’s most important to you for the entire area? Are you hoping for a certain retailer in the Downtown West Gateway project? Leave your thoughts in our survey before sharing them at the upcoming meeting.
What you said
Our readers and followers are full of ideas for what they’d like to see in the Downtown West area. We received plenty of thoughtful responses in our survey, plus even more suggestions from our social media followers.
Half of the respondents (50%) are most excited about Downtown West’s infrastructure improvements, followed by business updates (35%) and housing improvements (15%). Here’s what you said you’re hoping to see improved:
- “A wide well-lit bike/walking/jogging path from Lake Mirror to Bonnet Springs Park along West Main Street that runs parallel to the railroad tracks. Seems like that would be a good addition to the “lake to lake bike path” network (Lake Mirror to Lake Beulah).” — Terence M.
- “Needs to be pedestrian-centric with multi-modal infrastructure — walking, biking, transit. Would love to see more private art galleries, new food cuisines, and a corner store with fresh produce” — Sinjon H.
According to our survey results, 37% of readers are most interested in new dining options in the Downtown West Gateway mixed-use development. That’s compared to 25% who would like more shopping destinations, 12% who want more housing, and 26% who are hoping for something else entirely. Here are a few suggestions for the project’s retail space:
- “A dog bar/brewery” — @spencer.marissa
- “Combination boutique/plant shop or florist” — Belinda M.
- “What about a large climbing gym?? Maybe a small sports (basketball, pickle ball, maybe a small skate park) complex” — Jack P.
Finally, we asked which local businesses should set up a storefront in the newly revived area. There were several calls for another Born & Bread Bakehouse, LoveBird Almost Famous Chicken, or Black & Brew Coffee House and Bistro. Shoppers are hoping for another bodega Market, and princess party pros are wishing for a new Dreams Come True Entertainment space.
To share your ideas with city decision-makers, attend the final public meeting on Tuesday, July 11 from 6-8 p.m. in the RP Funding Center’s Lake Hollingsworth Room.