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Circle K hopes to place a large-format store at Florida Avenue and 10th Street and has sweetened the deal for nearby residents by offering a job fair and scholarships.

A request to change zoning to allow the convenience store/gas station comes at a time when the neighborhood is divided over allegations that an independently owned market a few blocks away hasn’t given back enough to the community.

If rezoning is approved, the project’s developers will buy a 4.33-acre parcel from the Lakeland Housing Authority for $1.3 million. Proceeds from the prime real estate would be used as seed money to build new public housing elsewhere, Housing Authority Director Benjamin Stevenson said.

The developers presented their plans to the Lakeland Planning and Zoning Board last week. Here are highlights followed by their presentation:

What: A 24-hour, 10-pump/20-fuel-position Circle K, the size usually found along major highways. The property has room for a second business that has not been identified yet.

Where: The northwest corner of North Florida Avenue and 1oth Street. The property has been vacant for 15 years, Stevenson said.

The lighter area is the property being considered for development. |

Who: Developers – Gryboski Howe & Gravley of Decatur, Ga.; Engineers: Campo Engineering of Tampa; Lincks and Associates of Tampa.

Request: Change zoning to allow Commercial 2 uses and allow 20-foot canopies over the pumps, which is higher than the city typically allows.

Neighborhood incentives: Circle K plans a job fair and scholarships for the Paul A. Diggs neighborhood, which is bordered by Florida Avenue on the east, Lincoln Avenue on the west, Memorial Boulevard on the south, and Bella Vista Street and Tucker Street on the north. The company is also committed to using local and minority-led contractors, Circle K real estate executive Michael Higgins said.

Jobs: 5 to 10 full-time employees are planned, Higgins said. Most employees will be part time, he said, adding that a store this size usually has 15-20 employees.

[broadstreet zone=”43907″]

Neighborhood support: Lorenzo Robinson, representing the Paul A. Diggs Neighborhood Association, said he supports the project. Asked by a planning board member if the neighboring Lakeland Regional Medical Center and Watson Clinic were contacted, Higgins said they “don’t oppose” the project.

Why 10 gas pumps? Ten to 12 pumps are needed to compete with the typically larger Racetrac and Wawa stations, Higgins said.

Owner: The station will be owned and operated by Circle K, Higgins said.

Traffic: Entrances would be on Florida Avenue, 10th Street and Whitehurst Street. The Florida Avenue access will allow right turns only, so drivers heading south can enter and exiting drivers can head south only. Those traveling north on Florida Avenue or want to exit to the north will use the traffic light and enter on 10th Street.

Security, lighting: 12 security cameras are planned, two employees will be onsite at all times, and employees will be trained in preventing loitering, Higgins said. The outdoor lighting that is planned is concentrated and won’t disturb nearby residents, he said.

Next steps: The city planning staff will make its recommendation on the requested land-use changes in about two weeks, and the issue comes to the Planning and Zoning Board for a vote at its 8:30 a.m. meeting on Feb. 16 at City Hall.

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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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