What’s next for the iconic Main Street building across from Munn Park that has housed Nathan’s Men’s Store for decades? It looks like a bank will be moving in, but the name of the bank is being kept secret.
Nathan’s owner Harris Estroff, 78, announced last March he would be retiring and closing the store, a downtown presence since his parents opened it in 1942. Nathan’s doors shut for good when its closeout sale ends Christmas Eve.
Estroff still owns the property and building at 221 E. Main St., which anchors the corner of Main and Kentucky Avenue.
The Lakeland Planning & Zoning Board voted unanimously Tuesday to allow a bank to do business in the building. It still faces City Commission approval on Jan. 19.
Mark Wilson of Kimley-Horn and Associates, representing Estroff, told Planning & Zoning Board members that he was unable to reveal the name of the bank.
The bank will not be allowed to have a drive-through.
To the rear of the building will be private dining for the upscale next-door restaurant, Nineteen61. And there will probably be offices on the second floor.
Julie Townsend, executive director of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, issued a statement in reaction to the proposed bank:
“I am sad to see a prime retail location become a bank. We currently have two vacant bank locations in downtown.
“That said, banks generate higher rents than retail or restaurants, which will support the plans to redevelop the second-floor office space which has been vacant for decades.”
Todd Vargo, a city planner, told the board that any changes to the building “will preserve the look of downtown.”
Wilson said the bank’s two main differences from now will be replacing windows and the Nathan’s sign.
Estroff could lease or sell the building. City officials said they’re unsure which choice he’ll make.