HGN: Proposed Lake District expected to boost Lakeland economy
The Lake District, an ambitious new 126-acre mixed-used development proposed in Lakeland, is expected to make a big impact on the local economy once construction starts in mid-2017. California-based Gilad Development is hoping to get final approval for the project from the Lakeland City Council later this month. “The timeline is on track for spring/summer start depending on weather, with occupancy 2018,” said Maggie Gallagher, Gilad director of development. “The project will generate $5.5 million in property tax and create 1,000-plus permanent jobs. We are reviewing numbers with contractors now. Our team will be comprised of all local firms outside of our architect in L.A.” Memphis-based design firm A2H Inc. is one of the local firms already working with Gilad to transform the former Lakeland Factory Outlet Mall located off Interstate-40 and Canada Road. Plans for the development include a five-acre manmade lake surrounded by two hotels, 550 residences, a 500-seat performing arts center, two parking garages, more than 100,000 square feet of office space, 480,000 square feet of restaurants and retail space (including a big box district with a potential grocery anchor), outdoor farmers market, early childhood learning center, parks, playgrounds, cycling and jogging trails. Residences will vary from senior assisted living homes to downtown-style lofts, with the majority expected to go up as two-story townhouses averaging 1,600 square feet. The total project cost could surpass $250 million, according to Gallagher. Initially, Gilad had wanted to develop the 30-acre Factory Outlet Mall site (which it bought from Belz Enterprises in 2005) into a new outlet mall, but that project was not strong enough to lure national tenants. That all changed after Gilad purchased an additional 130 acres from Belz and expanded the project plans. “We are working with A+ tenants and hotels indicating high interest in the development,” said Gallagher. The Shopping Center Group is currently working with Gilad to identify potential tenants for The Lake District.