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Corrugated metal panels got the most attention this morning when downtown Lakeland leaders reviewed and approved updated design plans for NoBay, a residential-and-commercial development that will fill most of a block on the north end of downtown:
- Matt Clark of project developer Broadway Real Estate Services said the metal panels give the project an “urban, edgy feel” that will appeal to the target market.
- City staffers recommended the metal be scrapped since it doesn’t fit in with nearby buildings.
- And a member of the Downtown Development Authority board said he didn’t like the metal, but realizes younger buyers interested in downtown living probably will.
In the end, the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority board approved Broadway’s updated plans without the conditions recommended by city planners except the three conditions that Broadway representatives said they could live with.
Bottom line for the corrugated metal: It stays.
Several board members remarked that the latest drawings look considerably different than earlier plans they were shown. “I don’t necessarily like this, but it’s subjective” said Greg Sanoba, a board member and lawyer. He noted the drawings remind him of condos in downtown Tampa and that Broadway had done market research and “they’re not going to put together a project that won’t make money for them.”
The NoBay project will place 55 residential and 11 commercial units in six three-story buildings on the block bounded by Bay Street on the south, Oak Street on the north, Kentucky Avenue on the east and Tennessee ?Avenue on the west.
It will replace a city-owned parking lot and will take up three-quarters of the block, leaving a car-repair facility at the northeast corner.
City staff generally praised the NoBay (see the report below) and recommended approval but with several conditions:
- “Diminish the monolithic appearance” through changes in the roofline and facades.
- Design a more visually appealing gateway at the corner of Bay Street and Kentucky Avenue.
- Differentiate the residential-only and commercial buildings by making retail entrances flush with the building fronts, adding balconies to residences, and using different colors for the residential buildings.
- Substitute a brick veneer or other material for the corrugated metal.
Clark argued that some of the adjustments such as using balconies would add several hundred thousand dollars to the cost and that redrawing plans would delay the project unnecessarily. “Budget really matters on this project. We’re trying to achieve certain rental rates.”
Project architect J. Michael Murphey said the development team has no problem with the suggestions to rethink the corner appearance, make the commercial entrances flush and use complementary colors for the residential buildings.
And those were the conditions that remained after a unanimous vote of the Downtown Development Authority board members.
One board member commented that they’re not the Lakeland Downtown NON-Development Authority. And board Chairman Eric Belvin, an owner of Linkster’s Tap Room, concurred: “Our job is to motivate people to move forward.”
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