A Black & Brew coffee shop could open at the Lakeland Public Library on Lake Morton by this fall under a renovation plan presented to city commissioners today.

Work is expected to get under way in the next 30 days, assuming the commission on Monday approves a recommendation to accept Strickland Construction Inc.’s $762,000 bid for the project.

The first phase of the project, which would restructure mostly administration areas, is expected to take three months, followed by construction of the 1,100-square-foot coffee shop area near the front entrance.

Artist’s conception: KCMH Architects

Black & Brew was selected to operate the coffee shop by the City Commission in November 2016. A contract approved then calls for Black and Brew to pay rent of $1 per square foot, or up to $1,100, a month for the first year, with annual increases of between 3 and 4 percent. The three-year contract includes two five-year renewal periods.

Black & Brew owner Chris McArthur said at the time that he envisions serving pastries and light lunches: sandwiches and salads.

A coffee shop will serve as a “third place” that will draw more people to the library and nearby Polk Museum of Art, commissioners said today. Ultimately, the city’s investment is aimed at drawing more attention and private development to the Palmetto Street area, City Manager Tony Delgado said.

The library renovation is being paid mostly from a Polk library consortium fund reserved for capital projects. A $62,000 anonymous bequest is assisting.

“Libraries are a great equalizer,” Commissioner Justin Troller said, adding he thinks the coffee shop will attract more visits and expanded funding to the library.

Commissioner Michael Dunn questioned whether the city should compete with nearby restaurants, but Delgado pointed out that the privately owned Black & Brew was chosen through a bidding process to operate the coffee shop.

View our previous story for more details. 

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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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