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Lakeland: Downtown Land to be Revamped

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Downtown Land to Be Revamped

Townhouses and condos are planned for nowdilapidated 14 acres near police station.

By Rick Rousos

The Ledger

LAKELAND -- One of Lakeland's worst neighborhoods appears destined to become one its best.

A mixture of about 400 townhouses and condominiums is planned for 14 acres behind the city police station on Massachusetts Avenue.

For decades, the six-block downtown area has been a haven for crooks, drug dealers and prostitutes. The neighborhood's mostly dilapidated homes and apartments are often rented on a weekly or even a daily basis.

The downtown land to be redeveloped has become an island of sorts, bordered by railroad tracks to the south, Massachusetts Avenue to the west and the In-Town Bypass to the north and east.

Anne Furr, the executive director of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, said Wednesday that the number of new homes could range from 300 to 450.

"Our whole focus has been to bring a healthy neighborhood to downtown," Furr said. "This is great."

Furr said the one option being considered is putting retail businesses on the ground floors of some of the townhouses.

The project is the brainchild of the LDDA and the city's Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency. It will be funded through the sale of bonds.

The CRA has budgeted $7.8 million to purchase the land and demolish the buildings that now sit on 59 parcels of property -- 10 apartment buildings, with an average of eight units each, and 52 single-family homes, duplexes and rooming houses. The property acquisition costs should be about $6 million.

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