Former Lakeland City Manager Gene Strickland has plans with two businesses to turn a piece of vacant land he currently owns on Griffin Road into a housing complex for people transitioning from homelessness or insecure housing.
The plans are for a four-story building with 60 one- and two-bedroom apartments to go up at 419 and 225 Griffin Road. The property is between Lakeland Hills Boulevard and U.S. 98 North.
Strickland will ask the City Commission on Monday to designate the property as a brownfield under Florida law because of years of rainwater runoff from the parking lot of an adjacent apartment complex. The brownfield designation will allow the builders to obtain a refund on sales tax paid when purchasing the building materials, Strickland said.
City officials said they are currently conducting site plan and building permits review. Strickland said because of a creek or drainage ditch cutting through part of the property, he is only developing the west two-thirds of the 3.5 acre property.
“This is my fifth brownfields designation, so it really helps develop or get a refund on the sales tax for materials used in construction,” Strickland told the commissioners at Friday morning’s agenda study meeting. “So it’ll be a nice project on that road.”
City Attorney Palmer Davis said state law allows for a brownfield designation if there’s either environmental contamination or the perception of environmental contamination.
“There doesn’t actually have to be contamination on the property, but when you’re dealing with a property within a redevelopment area, CRA, and you’re doing affordable housing, the threshold is very low for designating these things in the brownfield area.”
The project includes 38 one-bedroom apartments and 22 two-bedroom apartments, according to a city of Lakeland update on affordable-housing projects.
Forty-eight of the units are targeted for those at 60% or below Lakeland’s area median income — which equates to 28,380 for an individual of $40,500 for a family of four — and 12 units are for those at 40% or less — $16,555 for an individual or $23,625 for a family of four, Oscar Sol of Green Mills told The Ledger.
Green Mills has developed several subsidized-housing communities in the Midtown area. They are currently building Parker Point at 900 East Bella Vista St., just south of Tigertown and adjacent to the senior living facility Osprey Manor.
The 90 affordable housing units there are expected to open there over the summer.
Strickland said the property on Griffin Road will be owned by Carrfour, one of the top “support-housing nonprofit companies in Florida.” Green Mills, he said, is helping to develop the site, but will turn it over to Carrfour to operate.
City officials said they anticipate ground being broken on the Griffin Road project by July.
City officials are also considering more changes along Carpernters Way in North Lakeland.
City Commissioners are being asked to amend an ordinance to allow a 320-unit apartment building on the former site of Carpenter’s Home Church. That would be an alternative development to the existing approval for 558 multi-family units for the elderly and a 150-bed skilled nursing facility at 777 Carpenters Way.
Current zoning allows for up to a six-story building, along with two, two-story buildings. The change would allow three and four-story buildings on the property, which also has frontage on Lake Gibson.
The market-rate apartment complex would be nestled between the Lake Gibson Village assisted living facility and Lake Gibson Estates single-family subdivision to the east, and the Estates at Carpenters retirement community and the Lake Gibson Village Health and Rehabilitation Center to the west. There is a large wetland area and the Lakeside Hills Estates mobile home park to the north.
Carpenter’s Home Church was torn down in 2014 and the land has sat vacant since then. The large oak trees on the property are being saved.
This is the latest in a series of changes along Carpernter’s Way. City Commissioners approved a modified version of a plan for 954 homes, townhomes and apartments on the former Wedgewood Golf Course at Carpenter’s Home in December.
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