Summit Downtown Headquarters Gets Design Approval

New angles on a design for Summit Consulting’s planned downtown headquarters didn’t change commissioners’ positive feelings for the lakeside office building, which received a 5-0 vote of approval Monday.

The additional renderings were provided by architect Brad Lunz of The Lunz Group at the request of commissioners who, though supportive of the design, wanted to provide more information to residents concerned the building would clash with the Frances Langford Promenade and its loggia. 

“We haven’t had a lot of building downtown in decades — certainly there are people who love their downtown, they love our beautiful view of the loggia, they love historic buildings like the Terrace (Hotel) and the (Lake Mirror) Tower,” Commissioner Stephanie Madden said, describing the emails and comments she got about the design. 

She added that she hoped the new views will ease concerns the building would visually smother the neighboring historic structures.

Lakeland attorney Tim Campbell, representing Summit, said the company should be able to close the deal with the city in March. As part of the contract, the city will provide Summit up to $1 million in cash and services. The city and the company will trade the city-owned parcel at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Cedar Street for public access to 150 of the building’s parking spaces on nights and weekends for 30 years. 

The city and company agreed the value of the transfer was $2.5 million, which provides a base value owed to the city if the company opts out of the parking arrangement. 

City officials expect the 135,000-square-foot building to be finished in 2021, providing a new home for the Lakeland-based company’s 500 employees. The company is currently located on Commerce Point Drive off of Bartow Road.

Mayor Bill Mutz and Commissioner Phillip Walker did not attend the otherwise sleepy meeting Monday, but both had previously expressed support for the decision. The Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, which also maintained the right to approve the design as part of the city’s contract with Summit, is expected to give its final approval of the design Thursday. 

Previous LkldNow coverage of the Summit proposal

Michael Maguire, an active participant in Lakeland civics, asked commissioners to get some kind of guarantee on the record that the design won’t significantly change during construction without getting a chance to re-assess their opinion. He was the only resident to comment on the issue in person Monday.

“I love this, I think it’s great,” Maguire said, but he wanted to know whether it was liable to change. 

“We have seen, unfortunately, over the last several years, projects that are one thing on paper and emerge as something else,” he said.

Lunz, the architect, said the design was essentially complete, adding that his firm took extra care to make sure there would be limited construction-phase adjustments.

“We’re well aware of the misrepresentation that can occur,” Lunz said, adding, “We’re standing behind what we’re doing.”

“We’re down to things like ‘Where are we going to be a vent for a generator?’” he added. 

Campbell said there were inevitable tweaks — supply lines and market availability can lead to changes — but that the company would remain in close contact with the city. He said if the materials for the building were to change, the company would re-approach the commission.

The packet of design renderings, updated since Friday, includes a look at the garage layout:

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