Garden District Project Targets One-Bedroom Renters

The developers of two three-story apartment buildings planned for Lakeland’s Garden District are focusing on a specific market segment: people who want a one-bedroom apartment within an easy walk to downtown. 

The 90 apartments would be built on four now-vacant lots on the north side of Lime Street on both sides of Lake Avenue. They are a response to the demand for “quality one-bedroom apartments,” according to Shaun Puri, vice president of development for Broadway Real Estate Services.

Broadway noticed at its NoBay project in downtown Lakeland that one-bedroom apartments were the fastest to be rented, according to project architect Steve Boyington, CEO of WMB-ROI Inc.

One-bedroom apartment complexes are part of a national trend satisfying the needs of both Millennials and downsizing seniors, Boyington said today after presenting the project to Lakeland’s Historic Preservation Board and its Design Review Committee.

That committee gave conceptual approval to Broadway’s plans but asked for several changes aimed at integrating the 35-foot-tall buildings better with current buildings in the neighborhood.

(A document embedded below shows the apartment plans as well as the changes requested by the city’s historic preservationist and endorsed by the Design Review Committee.)

Boyington and co-architect Erica Craig said they will adjust their plans with hopes of getting final approval in a month or two. “We’d like to not have a long, iterative process,” Boyington said.

At 35 feet, the project adds the kind of density near the downtown core that city planners are encouraging without the need for a height variance, Boyington noted.

When the plans were being developed, it was with the understanding that the Historic Preservation Board would not be involved, Boyington noted. The City Commission removed that layer of review from development in the Garden District last February but restored it earlier this month after Lake Morton-area residents protested plans for a 55-foot apartment building near Lime and Indiana, saying the proposed design doesn’t fit the historic nature of the neighborhood.

While Boyington expressed a tone of cooperation, he told Historic Preservation Board members that this project is being watched, especially in light of the Jan. 7 City Commission building-height decision that thwarted the Lime-and-Indiana high-rise.

“The first project was contentious,” he said of the Lime-and-Indiana apartments. “If two or three other projects go down in flames, nobody else is going to want to come” and attempt building projects in the Garden District.

After passing historic preservation hurdles, Broadway will take its plans through the city’s design review process, which includes a meeting where representatives of various city agencies match the plans to city regulations.

Boyington asked the Design Review Committee to endorse their request for flexibility regarding the city’s parking widths and bay sizes. The committee declined, with Chairman Kyle Clyne saying, “I don’t know if even the mayor can get you out of standards.”

The apartments will front on Lime Street, with an estimated combined 95 parking spots behind the buildings. Half of the units on the ground floor will have porches with metal railings, and corresponding units on the second and third floors will have balconies.

Plans call for wood-frame construction with some combination of Hardie board siding, pre-cast concrete panels with painted or textured finish or painted stucco. “All colors, materials, and design details are subject to change pending budget pricing and final approval of owner,” Broadway’s representatives wrote in their city application.

Committee member Ursula Radabaugh urged the architects to honor the name “Garden District” as they complete their designs. Boyington responded that plans call for a rain garden around the perimeter.

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