Development of now-vacant land along U.S. 92 on the eastern shore of Lake Parker and transportation improvements will go a long way toward revitalizing East Lakeland, according to two new planning documents.
“The most significant opportunity in the area is the mostly vacant (56.7 acre) site in the city known as the Causey Property, which serves as a gateway to Lakeland and has the potential to develop as a mixed-use center,” city planners wrote in an East Lakeland Sector Plan presented to the City Commission on Monday.
The triangle-shaped property is envisioned as a “catalyst site” that mixes apartments, offices and residential facilities for children and the elderly in a separate study by the Central Florida Planning Council.
The now-vacant property was part of the Lakeland Golf and Country Club, which was built in the 1920s, Principal Planner Richard Perez told the City Commission Monday. The property fell out of use after a fire burned down the clubhouse in 1975, according to the CFRPC document.
Developers have shunned adjacent land for years, thinking the soil might be contaminated, but those fears have proven unfounded, Perez said.
The sector plan he presented was produced jointly by the city and the Polk County planning departments. It covers a 14-square-mile area east of Lake Parker and U.S. 98, south of Saddle Creek Road, and north of WinterLake Road.
Its purpose is to lay out broad planning strategies to guide city and county decisions involving the area.
At a public meeting held to gather information, area residents said their main concerns were police protection, more sidewalks and street lighting, poorly managed rentals and lack of community gathering space, Perez said.
Transportation is a focus of several of the document’s “implementing strategies,” including improving public transit on U.S. 92 and U.S. 98 and elsewhere in the area, improving pedestrian and bike access on Combee Road, Reynolds Road and Maine Avenue, and making roadways safer for children walking to school.
The plan also calls for supporting the county’s area to improve blighted neighborhoods, appling greenbelt policies to the floodplains the dominate the eastern part of the area, buffering neighborhoods from non-residential uses, and improving community spaces such as Crystal Lake Park.
Here are the two planning documents, as well as an outline of Perez’ presentation to the Lakeland City Commission.
East Lakeland Sector Plan draft
City Commission Presentation: East Lakeland Sector Plan