Realtors’ Proposed HQ: Commercial Building, Residential Look

“We wanted something that looks like a home but performs like an office.” So said Realtor Kyle Vreeland about the new headquarters planned by the Lakeland Association of Realtors for a vacant lot at 619 E. Orange St. across from Hollis Gardens.

He was speaking to Lakeland’s Historic Design Review Committee, which approved the building’s exterior look this morning. The committee asked that the first-floor porch rail match the one on the second floor, but requested no other changes.

The building — 6,000 square feet including the porches — was designed in a Craftsman bungalow style by Furr & Wegman Architects, whose office next door at 625 E. Orange St. is another example of commercial construction that emulates a remodeled house.

The LAR’s longtime office at 820 S. Florida Ave. was purchased by Florida Southern College in June for $1.1 million. The property will be used for dorm parking, college officials said when the sale was announced earlier this year.

The Realtors group chose the Garden District because it wanted a central location near downtown, LAR President Jim Steinbauer said. It’s a bonus that the site is across from Hollis Gardens and the Magnolia Building and along the route of the annual Christmas Parade, he said.

The group hopes to complete construction by next September, Steinbauer said.