North Lake Mirror

A Tampa-based team has been recommended for first dibs on turning 14 vacant acres into a North Lake Mirror community of townhomes, apartments, offices and retail businesses. The team assembled by Framework Group beat out two other contenders that included Lakeland-based developers.

Framework‘s team includes a company close to the project: Civil engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates advised the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Authority, which is overseeing the project, on potential uses at the site.

The other two teams that answered the CRA’s “request for qualifications” for the project included Lakeland developers:

The committee that reviewed the three proposals included representatives from Lakeland’s planning, finance and public works departments as well as the city manager’s office, the Downtown Development Authority and an architect.

North Lake Mirror map

The seven committee members were asked to review the proposals with an eye toward each teams’ experience at complex mixed-use urban communities as well as financial capability.

Framework’s proposal received a numeric score of 83.6 out of 100, compared with 72 for Broadway and 71 for Prestige Worldwide.

The review committee was impressed by Framework’s experience developing urban projects with a mix of residential types, CRA Director Nicole Travis told her agency’s advisory board Thursday. The firm has developed communities in Tampa’s Harbor Island and Westshore districts, as well as in Sarasota.

A recommendation to approve Framework’s team is scheduled to go to the Lakeland City Commission on Nov. 21. Once a team is selected, it will negotiate with city staff on project details and financials, Travis said.

The site is  west of Massachusetts Avenue and north of the train tracks that run through downtown. The city of Lakeland assembled the site by acquiring 53 properties, many by eminent domain, for $8.4 million in the early part of the last decade. The economic recession put plans to develop it on hold. A second attempt to develop it in 2014 fell through when city commissioners rejected both proposals submitted by local groups.

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Barry Friedman founded 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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