What would you like to see in this historic building in downtown Lakeland?

The 16,650-sqft building previously home to a Ford dealership and antique store just hit the market — keep reading to learn more about the historic property and tell us what you’d like to see occupy it next.

An exterior shot of Thom Downs Antiques

We can’t wait to see what’s next for this iconic spot on north Florida Avenue.

Image via LDDA, provided by Augie Schmidt

Table of Contents

Be the broker

You may know Thom Downs Antiques from your days of shopping for unique finds, or maybe you know it for the iconic mural on its side, but the historic 16,650-sqft storefront is about to be known for something else entirely — we just don’t know what that is yet.

The 1922 building is on the market for the first time in decades. Originally, the site served as Lakeland’s own Ford dealership, where crews assembled Ford Model Ts. In the 1980s, Thomas Downs opened his store after discovering a passion for traveling around the world collecting antique glassware and furniture.

An interior shot of an antique store shows wooden furniture housed in a historic building.

We spy with our little eye: exposed steel beams, high ceilings, and plenty of room for Lakeland’s next development.

Photo provided by Augie Schmidt

Now, it’s another Lakelander’s turn to leave their mark on North Florida Avenue. If you’re shopping for retail space, here’s what you should know:

  • The price tag: $2,195,000 ($132/sqft)
  • The layout: Two stories of open floor plan space featuring I-beam construction. The first floor is just over 8,000 sqft.
  • Features: functioning freight elevator
  • Zoning: C7 — which means it’s currently zoned for mixed-use retail and residential space, restaurants, offices, hotels, event spaces, and more
  • Listing agent: Augie Schmidt, SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate

Don’t have $2 million burning a hole in your pocket? No worries — we’re hoping to hear what you’d like to see come to life in this space. Be the broker and share your wildest dreams for a chance to be featured.

Reader responses

Poll results show that 37.5% of readers want a restaurant to fill the space, followed by retail + residential developments, event spaces, hotels, offices, and 14% voted for "other."

Our readers have plenty of ideas for what they’d like to see in this historic building.

Graphic via 6AM City

We asked, and you answered. The results from our poll made one thing clear: Our readers would love to see this space be something accessible to the community. Here’s how your answers broke down:

  • 37.5% of readers are hungry for something new
  • 30% are hoping to see a mixed-use retail and residential development
  • 10% want to see an event space here
  • 6% would staycation at a new North Florida Avenue hotel
  • 2.5% are ready to get to work in a new office space

As for the other 14%, our readers and Instagram followers dreamed up everything from live music venues to yoga studios, general stores, distilleries, and more. Keep reading for their suggestions.

Health and wellness

Cole D. suggested a wellness mecca complete with a gym, bathhouse, cold plunge pool, and sauna. Gian R. is reaching for something new and suggesting Lakeland’s first climbing gym.

Ever wanted to learn more about yoga, meditation, or sound healing? Those are just a few of the topics that @tlletch_lmt would like to see taught in public workshops at this space. This follower also hopes to see creativity sparked in community members via a “dedicated room in there to chill, study, paint or do your own thing.”

Arts and culture

Sara J. and Wayne C. have their hearts set on the arts; they asked for an art gallery and a wildlife art museum, respectively. Dillon L., @gradyjuddfansonly, and @paulsafara, voiced their desire for a live music venue. Looking to dance the night away? Eric H. wants a “goth dance club, a la The Castle in Ybor.”

For the family

Michelle M. is imagining a skating rink upstairs with space to eat and play downstairs. For Lakeland’s older adults, Brenda H. suggests a new senior activity center.

Shopping + grocery

Do you remember shopping at Fox & Hound? Reader Roxanne S. does and hopes to see something similar on the bottom floor. On the top floor, Roxanne would like to see a restaurant, yoga studio, or tattoo parlor. Others, like Reader Karen B., hope to see this space maintain its current role as an antique store.

As usual, votes also poured in for Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and other grocery and general store brands.


Maybe social media really does make you hungry, because our Instagram followers chimed in with restaurant recommendations. @mrs_ramos_ig voted for a “1920s prohibition, speakeasy-style bar with live music.” For all the vegan foodies, @getfit1962 wants to see a vegan cafe. Lovers of small plates might agree with @anadams_4567, who wants a tapas eatery.

New concepts

Melissa C. imagines a mixture of community-centric spaces like restaurants, bars, and shops occupying the space. On Instagram, @tayaguilera94 and @bevan_sherlinger voiced similar opinions, recommending something reminiscent of Oxford Exchange or Armature Works, respectively.

That’s just the start. View even more community ideas on our Instagram.

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