Although one commissioner expressed reservations, design sketches for the 305-unit Mirrorton rental development near the LPD station got a unanimous endorsement from the Lakeland City Commission today.
Commissioner Michael Dunn questioned both the overall design (“It looks to me like another cookie-cutter apartment complex.”) and the name (“It seems boring. I hope you didn’t spend a lot of money to come up with that.”)
Sketches presented to commissioners this morning don’t have the same depth or dramatic rooflines as slides showing other communities constructed by the developer, Tampa-based Framework Group, Dunn said.
Framework President Phillip Smith responded that design “starts with where you are rent-wise … There isn’t any project that we’ve ever developed where I didn’t want to do more.”
The target rent for Mirrorton is $1.40 per square foot, “which is at the top of this sub-market,” Smith said. That compares with the $2.02/square-foot rent at a Framework project in Sarasota and $2.42/square-foot rent at a Tampa project, Smith said. And even in the Tampa complex, which commands the company’s highest rents, Smith said he sees lots of things that could have been improved given higher rents.
(For comparison, rents at the nearby NoBay complex range from $1.10 to $1.80 per square foot, based on published prices.)
As for the name, Mirrorton (the third r is reversed in the logo) was the unanimous choice of design and branding professionals working on the project, Smith said. The first part pays homage to nearby Lake Mirror, an “amazing asset” for Lakeland, he said. He described “ton” as a suffix designating a town or homestead, citing Charleston and Washington.
Smith’s presentation to the commission included a slideshow containing:
- Images of previous Framework projects with similar architectural styles.
- Design concepts for Mirrorton, including some variations in color schemes that were considered. The medium-red bricks chosen lends the project a more traditional look than other variations, Smith said.
While most of the buildings contain three-story apartments, Smith noted that one of the buildings includes four-story units with elevators in keeping with comments from former Commissioner Edie Yates that elevators would be attractive to downsizing Baby Boomers.
City commissioners approved the sale of the vacant land to Framework for $3.7 million in October and agreed to let them develop it; at the time, commissioners asked to review exterior design concepts, resulting in today’s presentation and vote.
The vote to approve the design was 6-0, with Commissioner Bill Read absent. Dunn, who had criticized the design sketches, seconded the motion to approve the design and voted in favor of it.
Construction is expected to begin in September, according to Nicole Travis, who has negotiated with Framework in her role as director of Lakeland’s Community Redevelopment Agency.
When LkldNow posted the initial design sketches for Mirrorton last week, several Facebook commenters wondered whether there were plans for affordable housing there.
The city’s development agreement with Framework calls for 15 affordable units at Mirrorton provided the city builds a nearby dog park and a pedestrian walkway is placed over the CSX railroad tracks separating the development from Lake Mirror.
Rents for those units “shall not exceed 30 percent of 85 percent of area median income for Polk County,” according to the agreement. All other units will be rented at market rates. The wording:
The current area median income for Polk County as determined by Fannie Mae is $50,300. If I’m figuring correctly, the “below-market units”, if available now, would rent for $1,068 per month or less.
The document does not say how tenants will be chosen for those units.