Communication Builds Our Community

(225) stories found containing 'community redevelopment'

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  • Free Downtown "Squeeze" Shuttle Service Off to a Fast Start

    Robert Connors|Updated May 24, 2024

    The newly-bricked and landscaped Park Avenue served as the backdrop for a recent ribbon cutting marking the official start of service by the new downtown shuttle known as The Squeeze. A happy crowd of citizens and officials representing Lake Wales Main Street, the Citrus Connection, the City of Lake Wales, and the Community Redevelopment agency shared the moment, celebrating the rapid changes coming to the city. The service is already earning great reviews from shoppers and lu...

  • The "Squeeze" Starts Service on Monday, Making Getting Around Downtown a Breeze

    Robert Connors|Updated May 9, 2024

    Lunch-hour diners and shoppers will find getting around downtown Lake Wales a breeze beginning Monday as the newest city service arrives in town. Described as "fast, frequent, and fun," The Squeeze will offer free transportation around the city's center, ranging between Central and Crystal Avenues between First Street and Market Street. The service will utilize new 8-passenger open-air "golf cart" style vehicles to shuttle guests to and from area businesses. The shuttles will...

  • Park Avenue Streetscape Project Advances, Only Tip of the Vast Connected Plan Effort

    Robert Connors|Updated May 6, 2024

    A new Park Avenue is steadily emerging in downtown Lake Wales as work continues on the first phase of a multi-million dollar reimagining of the city's heart. The ongoing work is creating a shady pedestrian oasis in the heart of the city, replete with rows of spreading live oaks, new benches, lighting, wider sidewalks, and brick-paved streets and parking areas. The stretch of Park Avenue between First and Market streets is rapidly nearing completion, offering business owners an...

  • City Anticipates $23 Million Grant to Complete "Connected" Project

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Apr 2, 2024

    A grant application for the "Complete Streets redesign of remaining portions of 1st Street, Central Avenue, and Lincoln Avenue" has been given a high probability of success by a grant consultant working for the City of Lake Wales. The application seeks 100 percent funding for the redesign and reconstruction of most of First Street North, Lincoln Avenue, and single blocks of Central Avenue and A Street. The total project costs included in the application are $22,930,000, which...

  • Court Clears Path for Redevelopment of Walesbilt Hotel, Rules in Favor of City

    Suzie Schottelkotte and Robert Connors|Updated Mar 12, 2024

    BARTOW - A Circuit Court ruling Thursday has set the stage for reverting ownership of the historic Walesbilt Hotel in Lake Wales back to the city, ending a years-long legal battle for control of the 10-story building. Circuit Judge William T. Sites ruled that the current owner, Dixie-Walesbilt LLC's Raymond Brown, fraudulently induced the city into contracting with him to redevelop the property, and ultimately to sign the deed over to Brown, according to the ruling. The...

  • Incumbents Are No-Shows at Commission Election Forum

    Robert Connors, managing Editor|Updated Mar 6, 2024

    Three challengers seeking two seat on the Lake Wales City Commission held the stage at a Monday evening candidates forum after both incumbents failed to show up for the 90-minute event. The election is four weeks away, slated for Tuesday, April 2. Carol Gillespie, seeking seat 4 on the five-person commission, along with Brandon Alvarado and Crystal Higbee, both seeking seat 2, shared their ideas and responded to questions from the audience at the forum sponsored by the...

  • Multiple Questions Raised About $1.2 Million City-Funded Incubator

    News Research Staff|Updated Feb 29, 2024

    A "business incubator" operating under a three-year, $1.2 million contract approved by the Lake Wales City Commission appears to be operating in violation of several laws, a five-month-long investigation has determined. Among questionable practices identified within a web of interconnected businesses are business activity lacking county and city occupational permits, apparent violations of Florida's registered agent law, plagiarism, faked testimonials, and a...

  • Business Incubator Officers Invited to Defend Operations After Critical Report

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 22, 2024

    Business owners lined up at the beginning of the Lake Wales City Commission meeting Tuesday evening to explain to commissioners the various ways they are working to enhance the Lake Wales economy and the Northwest Neighborhood. They joined Florida Development Corp, Inc. COO Derrick Blue and CEO Frank Cornier after a special presentation period was added to the commission agenda. FDC operates the BizLINC business incubator under a $1.2 million contract with the City of Lake...

  • Lake Alta Proposal Modified by Developer, No Longer Impacts Park

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 17, 2024

    A development proposal adjacent to Lake Alta on the near north side of Lake Wales has been modified by the developer in an apparent attempt to reach a compromise with neighboring residents. Growth Management Division Director Autumn Cochella attended a Community Redevelopment Agency meeting this week to explain to commissioners that developer J. Walter Homes will bring a new proposal back to the city's Planning and Zoning Board at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 27, calling...

  • Lake Wales Has a Good "Squeeze" Coming

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 17, 2024

    In an effort to help address the need for transportation around the downtown area, City Manager James Slaton and staff have brought another solution forward. The "Squeeze" is an eight-passenger open vehicle which has already proven successful in downtown Lakeland, according to Erin Killebrew, who presented the concept during a special presentation to the Community Redevelopment Agency board. The proposal would provide the vehicle as a free service to riders needing to move...

  • City Commission, CRA Considering Sale of City Park For Apartment Complex

    News Staff reports|Updated Feb 15, 2024

    A "pocket park" lying in a quiet neighborhood of single-family homes on the near north side of the city may be converted to a parking lot to serve a new housing complex, Lake Wales News has learned. The Lake Wales City Commission approved a "consent agenda" item on January 16 transferring ownership of the 3.566 acre Lake Alta Park to the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency. The city commission also sits as the CRA board. That body can negotiate property sales directly to...

  • Downtown to Resound With Free Lake Wales Live Concert Series

    Special to the News|Updated Feb 5, 2024

    Music and entertainment fans will welcome the news of a sensational series of free Friday night concerts that promise to infuse the community with camaraderie, live music, and entertainment. The series is planned for Orange Avenue in the heart of Downtown Lake Wales. The new Friday Night Live series is a collaboration of the Lake Wales Arts Council with the City of Lake Wales and Lake Wales Main Street. The Arts Council "is delighted to unveil the much-anticipated Lake Wales...

  • West Park Avenue Reopens to Traffic, East Park Closes as Project Advances

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 2, 2024

    While the ribbon-cutting and dedication of the newly reconstructed portions of Park Avenue and First Street remains in the planning stage, the newly-completed stretches of West Park Avenue and North First Street are now open to two-way traffic. The opening comes concurrent with the closure of the eastern portion of Park Avenue, a situation expected to last most of the year as the pavement is removed, utilities upgraded, and new sidewalks and brick streets are installed. Shoppe...

  • More Public Parking Downtown is Goal of CRA Purchase

    Robert Connors|Updated Jan 13, 2024

    More convenient public parking downtown, the subject of repeated merchant requests, will be addressed soon, according to city officials. Converting a private parking lot to a city-owned facility is on the agenda of the next meeting of the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency The board will consider the purchase of the privately-owned lot at the corner of Park Avenue and First Street at their January 9 meeting. The move is viewed as part of the ongoing reinvigoration...

  • Days Are Numbered for Grove Manor Public Housing Project as Federal Tax Credits Granted

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Jan 3, 2024

    Hopes for the compete removal and replacement of the aging Grove Manor public housing complex in Lake Wales took a major step toward reality with the recent awarding of federal income tax credits worth over $21 million that will fund the project. The announcement from City manager James Slaton brought joy to city commissioners and residents attending the weekly city commission meeting. Commissioners had agreed more than a year ago to contribute a million dollars from the...

  • Lake Wales Country Club, Oakwood GC Site of Large New Development Proposal

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 6, 2023

    A large-scale redevelopment proposal that includes both Lake Wales Country Club and the adjacent Oakwood golf course community is raising passions among residents, some of whom have differing responses to the concept, which merges the two golf courses into a single 18-hole course. A new hotel would accompany hundreds of townhomes, apartments, and single-family homes, a total of 1,424 dwelling units spread across 522 acres. Nearly 152 acres would remain as open space under the...

  • Businesses Remain Open as West Park Avenue Transformed into Shady Oasis by Construction

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 6, 2023

    In nothing less than a transformation, the formerly dreary stretch of Park Avenue west of First Street is swiftly becoming an attractive green oasis intended to help draw pedestrian traffic to the heart of Lake Wales. The three-block-long stretch of the street west of Scenic Highway is the heart of the $20 million investment being made by the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency to reinvigorate the city's urban core. Conceived as "Lake Wales Connected" by a team of...

  • Lake Wales Main Street Director Honored for "Lifetime Achievement"

    Special to the News|Updated Nov 20, 2023

    Ronni Wood, a seasoned and dedicated professional in the field of downtown redevelopment, was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA). The remarkable accolade was presented during the 2023 FRA Annual Conference and Awards Reception, where the outstanding contributions of community organizations, as well as individual excellence, were celebrated. With a career spanning several decades, Ronni Wood's journey in...

  • CRA Adopts New Funding Mechanism For Downtown Investors

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Nov 15, 2023

    New life is being breathed into a significant building in the historic center of Lake Wales after actions taken by the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday. The city commission, sitting as the CRA board, also agreed to a new loan program to help local investors fund the renovation of five downtown retail units. "This is new, this is the first one," CRA Executive Director James Slayton said of the $100,000 loan toward a First Street property owned by Tammy and S...

  • Drumgo Brings High Energy to City Administration

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Nov 6, 2023

    In the high-energy future facing Lake Wales there's little doubt that high-energy management is required to keep up. As Lake Wales faces a wave of growth, with about 15,000 new residences planned to be built here in the next several years, Assistant City Manager Deena Drumgo may be the ideal person to help the city face the challenges ahead. Drumgo, the former city manager of Dundee, came to Lake Wales from Winter Haven, where she oversaw that city's community redevelopment ag...

  • New Brick Street Will Dress Up Park Avenue

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Oct 7, 2023

    The multi-million-dollar reconstruction of Park Avenue is proceeding close to schedule, as evidenced by the hard-working crews who have been seen laying the thousands of bricks that will eventually form the surface of the new street and parking spaces. The new high-quality clay-brick pavers were selected as the most durable and traditional surface for the project after a study by engineers and architects involved in the design of the project, an early phase of the multi-phase...

  • Lake Wales Property Tax Rate Raised by One Mill

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Sep 21, 2023

    The first ad valorum tax rate increase in nearly a decade was approved by the Lake Wales city commission on first reading Wednesday. The new property tax hike of 16.34 percent will contribute to the city's $99.5 million budget for fiscal year 2022-2023, which begins October 1. For many years in a row, Lake Wales commissions have simply adopted the "roll-back" rate, which was the rate which would generate the same revenue year after year, while the rate fell. That steady...

  • Orange and Crystal Avenues to Receive Major Streetscape Facelifts

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 28, 2023

    A million-dollar reconstruction of block-long stretches of Orange and Crystal Avenues is anticipated thanks to a federal grant and an intergovernmental agreement. The dramatic change will see new streetlights, street furniture, curbing, and the installation of numerous trees and other plants installed in rain gardens that will help absorb stormwater, . The work will include the resurfacing of the two streets east of First Street through and including their intersections with...

  • Dover and Kohl Win Prestigious Seaside Prize for Planning Designs

    Special to the News|Updated Aug 13, 2023

    The partners who founded a planning firm that has become closely identified with Lake Wales have been announced as the 2024 recipients of the prestigious Seaside Prize, presented annual by the SEASIDE Institute. The award will recognize Victor Dover and Joe Kohl, who in 1987 founded the Miami-based town planning firm, Dover, Kohl & Partners. The prize, which is awarded annually, celebrates individuals or organizations whose life's work or accomplishments are emblematic of the...

  • New BizLINC Business Incubator Expected to Spur Economic Development

    Robert Connors|Updated Aug 5, 2023

    A new business incubator funded in large part by the City of Lake Wales was celebrated at a recent ribbon cutting featuring a host of government and business representatives. The 3,570 square-foot incubator was developed from a former dental office by Florida Development Corporation, which will be moving its headquarters to the new facility from Tampa, according to city sources. Some 75 guests joined officers of the corporation for the celebration. The $1.2 million...

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