Lakeland’s first neighborhood has lived and fared in accordance with the times, which saw some decline in quality and value as non-resident investors bought property but often neglected it. The official “historic’ designation in 1985 created a barrier to further deterioration by imposing rules and regulations to guide restoration, renovation, and redevelopment.
Nearly 60 homes in the historic districts are already 100 years old or older.
During the past 30 years, the impact has become obvious and houses that could be bought for less than $50,000 in the ‘90s now command prices over $300,000, a few as much as $500,000.
The process that produced these outcomes has been organic, meaning that it has been the result of natural forces and positive investment, rather than simple economics and the prospect of profit.
The “DNA” of the neighborhood has remained intact and provides residential options for the entire cross-section of the Lakeland community. It is still possible to rent or own across a wide spectrum of price points which match up with other desirable locations and have attracted a diverse community of young singles, start-up families, white- and blue-collar workers, professionals in many fields, and, thanks to its neighbor Florida Southern College, students and academics. It is also home to families who have lived in it for generations.
For the record, I own the home I live in and just sold a rental home to a millennial couple who were able to afford it because of an included mother-in-law cottage that will produce income to offset their mortgage payment.
This neighborhood does not need to be “fixed”. It works perfectly. There is simply no obvious positive effect of adding another layer - or two.
Almost certainly, each new resident will also add a car to an area with narrow streets and limited parking options. Whether or not some choose to walk or bike to downtown for dining and entertainment, it is unlikely that they will get to work or shop for groceries that way.
The vision of three-, four-, or even five-story "luxury" apartments simply doesn't fit with the one- and two-story bungalow-lined streets that not only give the area its character but preserve it as well.
Many cities are now seeking ways to brighten their core districts and build "up" rather than "out", adding population density in order to attract business investment. It isn't always successful and often brings unintended consequences.
We herewith ask - implore - the city commission to vote "no" on the proposed ordinance that would allow multi-family housing as tall as 55 feet within the Lake Morton historic districts. The ordinance applies to much of the Dixieland historic district as well and we oppose it for that area too, but those residents can and will speak for themselves.
We ask - implore - you to do the same. Make your voice heard and your position known by writing to the commissioners who will make their decision on Monday, July 16, at the regularly scheduled meeting. Email addresses are listed below in the page footer.
Select among the following links for more detail and background information:
Agenda Study for the July 2nd Commission meeting
Interactive Historic Districts Map - Watch the short video below to see it in action. This kind of map, with an interactive legend, does not display properly on mobile devices, so please open it in your laptop or tablet to take advantage of the tools that allow highlighting of the various entries.