A community of 199 workforce houses near Lake Parker, Florida Southern College’s plans to move its graduate nursing program to the former St. Joseph Academy and a new home for Alliance for Independence programs all got the go-ahead to proceed from the Lakeland City Commission today.

All three projects needed land-use approvals, and all three were approved unanimously.

Cypress Point at Lake Parker

Highland Homes wants to build 199 single-family houses that it says are intended for teachers, nurses, first responders and other first-time homebuyers on roughly 56 acres of vacant land east of Lake Parker and just north of Memorial Boulevard. But first it needed two separate land-use approvals from the city.

The projected asking prices will be between $190,000 and $235,000, Highland Homes’ George Lindsey said last month in response to a question from a member of the city Planning and Zoning Board.

To keep prices down for the community to be called Cypress Point at Lake Parker, the developer asked to reduce lot-frontage requirements. The city is allowing up to 50% of the houses to sit on 40-foot-wide lots; the rest will be on 50-foot lots.

The development will lie between East Lake Parker Drive and Fairway Drive within view of Lakeland Electric’s Larsen Power Plant.

A portion of the site. Larson Power Plant and Lake Parker are in the background.

Florida Southern graduate nursing program

Commissioners also granted permission for Florida Southern College to use the former St. Joseph Academy building for its graduate nursing program, paving the way for the college to purchase the property from the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.

The academy buildings, located at 310 Frank Lloyd Wright Way, are several blocks west of the School of Nursing and Health Science’s Joe M. and Alberta Blanton Building at 947 Johnson Ave.

FSC plans to update the classroom buildings for adult students and hopes to be ready to begin classes there this fall. Initial enrollment is anticipated at 100 to 150 students and cap at 400 students in five to eight years.

Parking will be available on several vacant lots that are part of the multi-block purchase and few traffic impacts are expected because students will come and go throughout the day, unlike the elementary school which had car lines at drop-off and pick-up times.

There were no comments from neighbors at today’s meeting. When the land-use change was considered by the Lakeland Planning and Zoning Board last month, neighbors expressed concern that the green space on the property be preserved.

The ordinance approved by the commission today keeps the open spaces intact.

Alliance for Independence

Also approved was the Alliance for Independence request to convert the Auto Owners Insurance building at 2710 W. Memorial Blvd. into an adult daycare and vocational training center.

The Lakeland-based non-profit organization provides independent living skills and vocational training to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It plans a maximum of 120 clients, 25 full-time employees and three part-time employees at any time.

The property borders the Lone Palm Golf Course.

At the request of AFI’s attorney, Brent Geohagan, commissioners removed two conditions involving traffic access to Memorial Boulevard and a neighboring property. Those issues are being negotiated with the state Department of Transportation, he said.

Geohagan also asked the commission to delete a provision that would require AFI to pay $12,000 into a city sidewalk fund before they could occupy the building. Instead, the commission opted to ask its staff to negotiate a longer time period for the agency to pay into the sidewalk fund.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com 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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