Lakeland is nearing approval and construction of $50 million “Lakeland Commons” development


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Aaron Moser, Content Director

Thursday night, the volunteer-composed Industrial Development Board (IDB) of Lakeland voted unanimously to approve a form of a development and financing agreement in order to help fund a mixed-use development on the southwest corner of Highway 70 and Seed Tick Rd.  

Jim Willis
Lakeland Commons Conceptual Plan.
Source: Lakeland Currents

Through this resolution, the Lakeland IDB would enter into a 5.5-million-dollar loan agreement with Simmons Bank in order to fund the beginnings of the development and the 50-million-dollar Economic Impact Plan. This agreed upon form will now be sent to the Municipal Planning Commission for approval.  

To fund the project past the beginning 5.5-million-dollar loan, the Economic Impact Plan was agreed upon in November, which included a request for tax increment financing (TIF). Under this, a portion of increased property tax on the planned area will be used to pay off the development.  

Alan Johnson, a member of the IDB, summarized the Thursday special meeting in a Lakeland Currents article. He said “Al Bright Jr., attorney for the IDB, followed with a review of the various elements of the Agreement, and reiterated that the Developers were the guarantors for the TIF loan and there is no debt being assumed by the City or the IDB.  The role of the IDB is to pledge future TIF revenues to be used to pay off the loan, something that the Developers can’t legally do themselves.  Mr. Bright explained “The only risk the City of Lakeland has is what the finished development looks like.”   

The development will be named “Lakeland Commons” and it will include the construction of a three-story building on the development. On the ground floors will be restaurants, professional office space, and boutique retail space. Multi-family apartments will be situated on the upper floors. Also planned to be constructed on the 40-acre area is a new Lakeland city hall or civics center, a fire station, a grocery store, and possibly other retailers. During the Thursday night IDB meeting, it was mentioned that the land for the city hall and fire station will be donated by the developers, however it is not a part of the official package yet.

Regarding the possible businesses in this area, developer Vince Smith said, “We haven’t announced any specific names, but a couple of restaurants have serious interests and then there’s some other services that have interests like cleaners and banks.” 

In order for the development to be feasible, new roads, sidewalks, traffic signals, etc. will need to be constructed and when asked about possible new streetlighting on Highway 70 being included in the plan Chairman Joseph Laster said, “I hope that it does, but that’s going to be something the city codes give guidance on.”  

A recurring theme regarding the development is Lakeland gaining a greater identity through the “town square concept” of the Lakeland Commons. “There is no central location where you can go there and get the town feel. We are a new city,” Laster said. “We are making these developments, creating a feel and identity for our city.” 

“It’s a place where the community can come shop, eat, live. That’s the vision we have,” he said. The board emphasized that this area can become the main gathering place for the people of Lakeland.  

It’s a place where the community can come shop, eat, live. That’s the vision we have.”

— Chairman Joseph Laster

The board also reiterated the fact that many people in Lakeland often either shop in Memphis or Arlington, and this development will help keep revenue in the city of Lakeland. Alan Johnson said, “The project is expected to generate $63.3 million in economic impact and 736 new jobs for the City of Lakeland during the period of the agreement.” 

Newly-elected Mayor of Lakeland, Mike Cunningham, introduced himself to the board and said that “it has been way to long” for this type of development in Lakeland and that he is fully behind it.  

Chairman Laster says that he has seen a lot of excitement and encouragement from the people of Lakeland and that he thinks it is “a win for the city and community.”