LAKELAND — Lakeland commissioners may get their wish for high-rise apartments in downtown, but they’ll have to contribute to the cost.
The Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency’s board voted unanimously to send a tentative $1.8 million deal with Tampa-based developer Onicx to the commission for approval. If given the green light, the city-owned Oak Street Parking Lot would be transformed into a 200-apartment unit complex.
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“I’m very excited to get to this point. I love that we are having close to $54 million invested in downtown, that’s a big deal,” Bradon Eady, chair of the LCRA’s board, said.
Under the proposed agreement, Onicx would pay Lakeland about $1.83 million for the municipal lot — which the CRA purchased for $1.1 million in 2011. Alis Drumgo, the city’s assistant director of economic development who oversees the CRA, said the price was reached using the $12,000 per unit charged to Mirrorton’s developers limited to the original units proposed.
Onicx has agreed to increase the number of units from 153 to 200 on the site by raising the building’s height from five to seven stories. This meets Mayor Bill Mutz’s request to increase the residential density of the project.
Despite the increase in units, the developer did not budget on amount of affordable housing included as requested by Commissioner Phillip Walker. Onicx remains firm on 15 affordable apartments available to those who make 80% or less of the area’s median income. As of 2019, that’s a household making about $47,511, according to Drumgo.
The developer plans for build a six-story parking garage with 400 to 424 parking spaces as well as an additional 42 street side slots. The original proposal offered the city 150 parking spaces to lease out at an estimated rate of $75 a month per space for seven years has been reduced. The tentative contract increases the overall parking, but reduce the city’s spots to 134 spaces at a suggested lease rate of $70 per month.
The total cost of the development has risen due to the uptick in number of proposed apartments and parking spaces. Onicx’s estimate of nearly $40 million has jumped to about $53.6 million and continues to increase due to market prices of supplies. The CRA’s deal proposed the city pay $1.1 million toward construction of the parking garage and its spaces and waive about $736,000 in impact fees.
“We are looking at a net zero so far on the project,” Drumgo said.
The city’s negotiations did lead to some compromise on tax rebates. These are often given through tax increment financing, or TIF, which is a financing method used as a subsidy for development.
Oncix had requested the 90% TIF for the first five years, followed by 70% in years 6 to 10 of the project. Commissioner Bill Read called it was ‘the most aggressive TIF point component I’ve seen asked by a developer.” Drumgo said the city normal offer is 50% TIF for five years.
Due to the size and scope of the project, Drumgo said the CRA is prepared to offer 80% TIF for the first five years, followed by a 60% for following five-year period. This would cause the city to lose out on approximately $3.75 million of potential tax revenue.
The negotiated deal must go before city commissioners for approval. The next city commission meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 18 inside City Hall, located at 228 S. Massachusetts Ave.
Sara-Megan Walsh can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7545. Follow on Twitter @SaraWalshF