Lakeland’s Broadway Real Estate Services is no longer competing with a Tampa company to purchase a city parking lot  just north of its NoBay development downtown and develop it as a high-density residential complex.

The developer with considerable downtown interests “has withdrawn from consideration for redevelopment of the Oak Street lot,” according to Alis Drumgo, newly promoted manager of the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency.

The CRA Advisory Board will still hear a presentation at its June 6 meeting from Tampa-based  Catalyst Asset Management Inc.,  about its proposal to develop the site, Drumgo said.

A committee made up of city and downtown development officials reviewed detailed proposals from both developers May 1, and recommended that the CRA staff negotiate with Catalyst.

The CRA’s advisory board, meeting May 2, declined to forward that recommendation to the Lakeland City Commission after Broadway President Matt Clark and an attorney representing the company objected to the procedure. Instead, the advisory board agreed to invite both companies to make presentations about their respective projects on June 6.

“How can you advise and make a fully informed decision if you haven’t heard from the parties or studied the report?” Broadway lawyer Bob Puterbaugh asked at the time.

Clark confirmed today that he wrote a letter to Drumgo withdrawing from the project, but he declined to comment on why they no longer want to pursue it.

Drumgo said Broadway offered no reasons. “They wished us well on the project, though,” he said.

In its proposal, Broadway questioned the “economic high hurdles” presented by CRA requirements that 20 percent of units be devoted to affordable housing and that the project accommodate displaced parking.

Some background:

  • Broadway sent the CRA a letter last December expressing interest in purchasing the 1.5-acre lot between Kentucky and Tennessee Avenue and Oak and Peachtree Streets.
  • When the advisory board met in March, Clark urged them to make a quick decision on selling the land. Instead, they opted in a 9-1 vote to use a Request for Qualifications process to vet potential buyers before deciding whether to sell the property.
  • City staff drafted a document listing criteria for the project, including reserving 20 percent of the units for affordable housing, ensuring adequate parking, and presenting proof of economic viability.
Oak Street lot viewed from a Kentucky Avenue entrance.

When the CRA Advisory Board meets in June, it will decide whether to recommend that CRA staff negotiate a deal with Catalyst. A final decision on whether to negotiate would be made by the Lakeland City Commission.

Catalyst’s proposal calls for a six-story structure with 173 apartments, 38 of which would be set aside for affordable housing.

Their proposal also includes 10,000 square feet for retail and a four-story parking garage.

Catalyst, (Sunbiz filing), is involved in the following projects, according to a CRA memo:

  • Grand Central in Fort Myers: 280 units with retail; $53 million value
  • Liberty Health Park in Cape Coral: 320 units multifamily, 131 units assisted Lliving, retail; $74 million value
  • City Walk in Fort Myers: 318 multifamily units, 15 commercial and 128-room hotel; $58 million value)
  • Midtown Apartments in Cape Coral: 90 multifamily units; $14 million value
  • Channelside Apartments in Cape Coral: 325 multifamily units; $40 million value

The Catalyst proposal:

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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