For the third time in the 37 years they’ve lived there, Kenneth and Maxine Pirkle’s house at 927 E. Lowell Street near Lake Parker won the city of Lakeland’s residential beautification award. The commercial award for February went to Osprey Manor, apartments for independent senior living at 810 E. Bella Vista St. Owners Mainstay Healthcare started renovations after buying the building in April 2017. Both awards, given at today’s City Commission meeting, recognize structures whose exterior and landscaping enhance the community.
The developers of two three-story apartment buildings planned for Lakeland’s Garden District are focusing on a specific market segment: people who want a one-bedroom apartment within an easy walk to downtown. More
BREAKING: City crews are on the scene of a suspected water main break at the corner of Lake Morton Drive and Palmetto Street between the Wilsonian Apartments and the Florida Southern College garden apartments. They’re digging to determine the cause and stop it, city spokesman Kevin Cook said. Police have blocked nearby streets to keep traffic away. “Water crews need to locate the appropriate valves to isolate and shut off the water upstream and downstream of the leak, then de-water the site before they will get a visual of the pipe,” Cook said at 6:30 p.m.
THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE FROM THE CITY: “At this time, we don’t know exactly how many homes/business are affected nor an ETA of the repair. If you live in the area, please check back to lakelandgov.net/boilwater throughout the day where updates will be posted if/when they become available.”
Nineteen months after it was hand-painted by students, the once-bright roadway mural at the intersection of Main Street and Ingraham Avenue has faded and carries scars of black tire tracks, but help is on the way. A more durable do-over is planned, courtesy of paint and labor donated by a Longwood business, city officials say. More
City commissioners delayed a decision Monday afternoon on whether to allow up to 60-feet-tall multi-family buildings in portions of the Garden District of the historic Lake Morton neighborhood.
City staff had devised a plan that divided the district into six subdistricts that define where the taller buildings would be allowed within the district.
But following a lengthy public hearing when a dozen people spoke, city staff was given instructions to come back with a revised plan that eliminates allowing taller buildings south of Lime Street near the lake and adds a provision requiring new multifamily buildings in the district go through the design review committee of the Historic Preservation Board.
Currently, multi-family buildings are limited to 40-feet, although taller buildings were allowed until recently.
Issues with the proposed amendment became apparent after developer Baylis Consulting submitted plans for a 54-foot-tall, 40-unit apartment building at the corner of Lime Street and Indiana Avenue. The conceptual plan for the contemporary-style building was approved by city staff, contingent upon the City Commission approving the proposed height amendment.
Another stumbling block was raised Monday when Commissioner Justin Troller asked if under the formula it would be possible to erect a 60-foot-tall building on the lakefront south of Lime Street if some of the current houses were leveled. Planning Manager Theresa Maio confirmed it would.
Neighborhood resident Michael Rogers presented slides illustrating the differences between the look of a 40-foot tall building, as currently allowed, versus a 60-foot-tall building at the site of the building Baylis is planning at the intersection of Lime and Indiana.
Neighbor Colin Weins spoke about how Orlando, Tampa and other cities are addressing urban density and walkability. Orlando’s Thornton Park has 30-foot to 40-foot height restrictions. While Tampa’s Hyde Park has certain areas that allow multi-family buildings up to 60 feet high, its architectural review commission guidelines for new construction say it is not permissible to add a building that does not maintain or blend in with the height of buildings on adjacent lots. “Some cities don’t have maximum heights but say it must be of compatible height and mass,” Weins said. “This is something you are not providing for.”
Melinda Rinker, who also lives in the neighborhood, said that while “we hear there are a lot of developers who purchased land with the understanding they will get the 60-foot height” but as homeowners “we have to stay within very strict guidelines for anything we do to our historic homes. We bought historic houses knowing we had those guidelines. They bought their land knowing those 60-foot height guidelines have not been approved yet.”
Edie Yates, a managing partner of Baylis who served 12 years on the City Commission leaving last January, defended her company’s plans for the building.
In 2017, “we were focused on how do we incentivize development in the area where not a lot had happened in last 20 years, an area that had deteriorated in that 20 years. It is an area surrounded by parks that the city spent a lot of money on to incentivize investment the downtown area.”
Yates also spoke about the review process, saying the staff review on the planned Baylis building was conducted by the same staff person who works with the Historic Preservation Board, using the Land Development Code for guidance.
“The idea was to make it simpler for people to do projects in an area that drastically needed new development,” Yates said.
When prompted by questions from commissioners, City Attorney Tim McClausand said that there likely is not a legal issue involved in changing the 60-foot height limit on certain properties at this time but commissioners may want to consider it as a fairness issue.
The commissioners agreed by consensus to continue the public hearing until Jan. 7, when city staff will come back with revisions to the proposed ordinance.
For other news about Monday’s meeting see: City Commission Report: Food Trucks, Hawthorne Hill, Mount Zion, and Broadband
Updated: 11:00 on 12/18/2018 to clarify information presented by Colin Weins
A housing developer wants to bring a Crystal Lagoon — a large, clear, manmade water structure — to a subdivision planned for 487 acres southwest of Lakeland Linder Airport. Metro Development Group in Tampa has placed one of the lagoons in Wesley Chapel and plans four more in Florida, Tampa Bay Business Journal reports. Lakeland city commissioners are being asked to allow smaller lot sizes in the planned Hawthorne Mills community south of West Pipkin Road to accommodate the lagoon.
LINKS: Crystal Lagoon website | City Commission resolution
If you read The Ledger’s Sunday article about Florida Southern College’s off-campus property holdings and wondered where they’re located, there’s a map for that. Assembled by Lake Morton Historic District resident Michael Maguire, the map details the college’s properties by type, purchase value, latest assessment, tax exemptions and more.
Florida Southern College owns 58 off-campus properties in Lakeland, most of them in the South Lake Morton neighborhood. Some residents there fear campus encroachment and complain about student behavior, while others view the college and its students as neighbors and part of urban living, Gary White reports. NOTE: The online version has a lot more photos of the houses than the print version.