Some Public Parking Envisioned for Downtown Garage

Most of the parking in a six-story garage planned for downtown Lakeland will be used by employees of large businesses, but some of the spaces will be available for members of the public visiting downtown, City Manager Tony Delgado said today.

“We’re going to hold some back for regular patrons of downtown, so it’s possible to hold for 20, 30, 40 spaces during regular business hours,” Delgado said as city commissioners discussed investing in the garage today.

In addition, the city’s spaces on the first two floors of the 824-space garage planned for the Heritage Plaza site will be available for public use after hours, he said. And it’s likely that the entire garage will be opened for special events such as the annual Christmas parade, he said.

City commissioners voted 6-0 today to spend $6,278,970 to buy 399 spaces, nearly half of all those available in the garage that will take up a good chunk of the lot bounded by Kentucky and Tennessee Avenues and Lemon and Orange Streets.

The planned garage is being developed by BKP Five LLC, a corporation controlled by Wesley Beck that owns the property. Other partners in the project are MidFlorida Credit Union, which has committed to buying 175 spaces, and Lakeland Regional Health, which has signed up for 125 spaces.

BKP Five is getting 125 spaces in exchange for its donation of the land, which Delgado said has been appraised between $1.5 million and $1.6 million.

The parking spots are being bought by the city, MidFlorida and LRH as condominium units at a cost of $15,736.77 per space.

City Commissioner Scott Franklin abstained from today’s vote at the advice of City Attorney Tim McCausland. Franklin represents Beck and some of his companies in commercial insurance purchases, a business relationship that could be construed as a conflict of interest.

It’s too early to know just how many of the city’s spaces will be available for public parking, Delgado said after the meeting. That parking will be located on the ground floor, he said.

For city administrators, the new parking represents a tool to help lure new businesses downtown. The city plans to lease much of its space in the garage.

Another economic development tool on that block is a proposed office building that Delgado touted as the first such development in over a decade. Beck holds an option to place a three-story office building on a roughly 13,000-square-foot strip fronting Orange Street.

The agreement approved by the City Commission today allows Beck to buy or lease 125 of the city spaces once the office building is complete. If leased, starting price would be $50 per space per month with cost-of-living increases applied annually.

View the commission discussion about the garage:

City Commission Meeting 2018.12.03 from City of Lakeland on Vimeo.

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