Developer Close to Deal on 26 Acres Next to Bonnet Springs Park

The developers of Bonnet Springs Park say they are close to a deal to sell a large tract between the park and Lake Wire to an out-of-state company that wants to build a mixed-use project on the reclaimed property that once housed Florida Tile.

Realtor David Bunch and lawyer Chris Fear — representing Lake Wire Development Co., which owns most of the property — asked city commissioners today for a concession they said would help them close the deal with the prospective buyer.

Normally the City Commission would review and vote on a conceptual plan for a project under the property’s C6 mixed-use-development zoning. The commission is being asked to forego that vote and instead agree to a list of uses that would be prohibited on the site. The list was negotiated between the city’s planning staff and Lake Wire Development.


Lake Mirror Development Co. owns the acreage at 1 Sikes Blvd., and the city of Lakeland owns the 2.3-acre triangle just north of it.

Fear explained that the land deal is complicated by the fact that two property owners are involved. The bulk of the 26 acres to be developed is owned by Lake Wire Development, but a 2.3-acre plot at the north end of the proposed development is currently owned by the city of Lakeland.

“We don’t want there to be any possibility of these two properties … to be acquired and developed separately,” he told commissioners.

The list of prohibited uses was just finalized yesterday, Fear said. Lake Wire Development Co. has approved the list, but he wants to give the prospective buyer, whom he did not name, time to become comfortable with it by Monday afternoon.

That’s when city commissioners are scheduled to vote on an amendment to the city’s contract with Lake Wire Development that spells out the prohibited uses.

UPDATE: The City Commission approved the updated contract on Monday, Feb. 15. During the previous weekend, the city staff refined the list of prohibited uses to add more specifics. The list is at the end of the contract seen here and at the end of this article. The vote was 6-1, with Commissioner Stephanie Madden dissenting.

Mayor Bill Mutz described the prospective buyer as a “significant national developer … the kind of developer it would be nice to align with.”

He emphasized that the project would still go under a thorough development review with the city’s planning and regulatory departments.

Lake Wire Development is “very close” to signing a contract with the prospective buyer, Fear said in response to a question from Commissioner Bill Read. “It’s mostly timing that we’re dealing with, but we’re very close. Price has never been an issue,” he said.

Ever since plans for the 168-acre Bonnet Springs Park were announced in February 2017, Bunch and its other backers said they wanted to turn the former Florida Tile property into a commercial/residential/office complex.

Proceeds from that development will pay for ongoing maintenance of the park, Fear told commissioners today. Both Lake Wire Development Co. and Roundhouse Holdings LLC, which is developing the park, are subsidiaries of the non-profit Bonnet Springs Park Inc., he said.

The Florida Tile site has been cleaned and remediated with 26,000 tons of concrete removed at a cost of more than $1 million, Bunch told commissioners today.

A news release issued by Bonnet Springs Park last year included an artist’s rendering showing, among other things, what a development on the Florida Tile site might look like, though there is no reason to believe it shows the specific plan by the proposed purchaser. Multi-story buildings can be seen on the Florida Tile property in the center of this detail from the rendering:

And here’s an annotated illustration from an online sales brochure showing the project’s proximity to Bonnet Springs Park, downtown, the RP Funding Center and a planned transit hub:

The property’s C6 zoning is intended for mixed-use developments. Many kinds of uses are allowed there. Among them are multi-family residential, offices, hotels, some personal-service businesses, most kinds of restaurants and a smattering of retail businesses.

This is the original list of business types that would be prohibited under the contract amendment. The list was refined during the weekend before the Feb. 15 vote and the final list can be seen at the end of the contract below:

  • Bed & Breakfast
  • Repair-Oriented Services
  • Medical Marijuana Dispensing Facilities
  • Catering Establishments – As Principal Use
  • Churches, Synagogues, and Other Houses of Worship
  • Colleges, Junior Colleges, Universities & Seminaries
  • Day Care Center Accessory to a House of Worship
  • Day Care Centers/Adult
  • Day Care Centers/ Child
  • Vocational Training for Activities Permitted in the District where Located
  • Group Homes, Level I, II, and III
  • Hospitals & Emergency Rooms
  • Broadcast & Transmission Towers atop Buildings Greater than 50 ft. in Height
  • Communication Studios
  • Utility & Essential Services Facilities, Level I

The City Commission meets at 3 p.m. Monday on the third floor of City Hall. The meeting can be watched live online or on cable: Spectrum Channel 643 or Fios Channel 43.

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