Downtown’s new NoBay Village block of residential and retail development was officially anointed and celebrated by city government and business leaders Thursday.
LAKELAND — Downtown’s new NoBay Village block of residential and retail development was officially anointed and celebrated Thursday by city government and business leaders.
“This is really and truly a labor of love,” Mayor Howard Wiggs said as he congratulated his friends, Broadway Real Estate President Matt Clark and Chairman Ron Clark, on the opening.
The first residents moved in in September, but tradition dictated the eventual shearing of a ribbon with a comically large pair of clippers.
The project is, of course, about making money, but “there were some real risks to this location” that only a firm and a family enmeshed in the community would undertake, Wiggs said.
The 55-unit apartment complex with retail space north of Bay Street, between Kentucky and Tennessee avenues, was built with the help of a $400,000 grant from the city to develop what previously was a public parking lot.
The City Commission has stated its renewed focus on redeveloping and extending downtown.
“When’s the next one?” Wiggs asked Matt Clark.
“Hopefully soon,” Clark said.
Could be — Broadway was one of three companies to recently apply to develop the 10-acre site north of Lake Mirror. The city purchased the site in 2005 but its development was derailed by the Great Recession that began in 2008.
The city would like to see additional residential inventory developed on the site.
“We think residential is the best play for downtown,” he said. Further, the 10-acre site does not connect to its closest commercial corridor, Massachusetts Avenue.
The site may be best suited by something with less density than that represented by NoBay, he said. It may take time for the market to absorb the new downtown urban living inventory.
One of the new downtown Lakelanders is Miss Florida, Courtney Sexton, joining the pageant that moved to Lakeland earlier this year. She was not at the event but will be in town soon, Clark said.
The celebration was also joined by Gregory Fancelli, whose Prestige Worldwide real estate company in partnership with an Orlando-based firm, also applied to develop the North Lake Mirror property.
He called NoBay an accomplishment for Lakeland’s downtown. Fancelli, the developer of the Tudor-style house on South Florida Avenue, is often a vocal architecture critic.
He said he likes NoBay’s Scandinavia-inspired design.
He also likes the prospects for an urban neighborhood on the 10-acre site.
“I think the potential is huge,” he said.
Like Clark, he doesn’t think the site will support as high a density as NoBay, and as the city selects a developer to sell the site to, he hopes officials will keep their expectations flexible and not try to do too much too soon.
And both agree that the future for development in downtown Lakeland is more “heads in beds.”
— Christopher Guinn can be reached at Christopher.Guinn@theledger.com or 863-802-7592. Follow him on Twitter @CGuinnNews.