Lakeland FL’s streetscape expansion project

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Kentucky Ave. facing Main St. | Photo via @haven_magazine

What’s 6-ft wide, located in the heart of Downtown Lakeland, and kicks off this summer? The City’s latest sidewalk project, of course.

Starting this July, Lakeland’s Main St. will begin to look a bit different as it faces a total overhaul. The Lakeland Downtown Development Authority + Community Redevelopment Agency are set to spend about $115,000 to provide a more fluid streetscape for the businesses dotting Main St. between Kentucky and Tennessee Ave

The general area where the sidewalks across from Munn Park will expand | Screenshot via Google Maps

Now, put on your thinking caps with us and imagine what this could look like for Lakeland:

  • A foodie haven. Yes, you read that right. With the expansion set to add an additional 6-ft of sidewalk to Main St., Lakelanders could see more restaurants pop up downtown in some of the vacant storefronts.
  • More tables, chairs, and umbrellas. At least, that’s what Julie Townsend, executive director of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, says. This increase in outdoor space will allow for more outdoor dining. Can you say “summer cocktails on Main”? Yes, please.
  • A refresh to the city’s current landscape. This project will work to improve the current layout of downtown by replacing damaged trees, light poles, planters, and even adding a handicapped parking space.
  • More wiggle room at existing venues. Owners such as Chris McArthur of Black & Brew Coffeehouse and Bistro (205 E. Main St.) are excited about the change, citing the potential for 12 to 16 more seatsa generous increase in the coffee shop’s capacity

Working in conjunction with the parklet project, Lakeland could see future developments similar to this one on other downtown streets, if both programs are successful.

The details

The project will take place on Main St., between Tennessee Ave. and Kentucky Ave. (that’s between Lakeland Loft and the old Nathan’s Men’s Store). In order to extend the streetscape for pedestrians + outdoor dining, 11 parking spaces will be eliminated.

The Plan

In an effort to minimize the impact on traffic and businesses, construction will be completed over 2 phases. Phase 1 will begin at Main St. and Tennessee Ave and will span half of the block, up to Linkster’s Taproom (209 E. Main St.). Phase 2, starting immediately after the completion of Phase 1, will encompass the rest of Main St.

Map showing the detours
Route for the detour from Main St. to Tennessee Ave. to Lime St. | Map via LALtoday

The detours

Commuters heading east on Main St. (towards Lake Mirror) will be redirected to Tennessee Ave. and Lime St. Pedestrians will have access to designated walking areas near buildings. As always, pedestrians are reminded to exercise caution when walking through construction zones. 

The dates

The approximated 45-day construction period is slated to begin on July 6, 2021, with a tentative mid-August completion.

The streetscape as of Sept. 1, 2021

The Main Street Expansion project looks to be complete.

In case you missed it, the former, more narrow sidewalks left little to no room for residents to navigate the downtown strip of Main Street, namely, in front of local businesses like Linkster’s, Black & Brew, and Nineteen61, and didn’t allow for outdoor dining.

Before construction started | Photo via Google Maps

As a refresher, the project ran the length of Main Street, between Tennessee Ave. and Kentucky Ave., to make room for more foot traffic + outdoor dining, and eliminated 11 parallel parking spaces allow for the expansion. 

Construction teed off back in July and had a tentative 45-day timeline.

Construction as of July 24 | Photo via @thelaltoday

A little less than a month later, on Aug. 20, the sidewalks appeared to be nearing completion. The next plan of action called for umbrellas which would be added to the outdoor seating options. Plus, new trees have been planted to ensure that the shaded parts of the sidewalk will maintain their coolness during warmer summer days.

The completed sidewalk expansion | Photo via @yeager_doug

Today, businesses along the expansion have taken advantage of the added space + expanded business outdoors for patrons to dine along Main Street and soak in the fresh air. 

When walking down this side of town, you’ll now notice 3-4 new tables (that’s about 12-16 extra seats), and bright red umbrellas dotting the area outside of Nineteen61 for patrons to enjoy, with other businesses potentially following suit in the coming days or weeks.

Outside of Nineteen61 | Photo via @nineteen61_

Other unmentioned additions to Main Street include not only new trees, but the replacement of damaged trees, light poles, planters, and even adding a handicapped parking space. 

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