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(31) stories found containing 'seminole hotel'

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  • Seminole Hotel Redevelopment Takes One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Nov 8, 2022

    After rejecting the only response received from a private developer regarding the Seminole Hotel, the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is taking a completely different approach. The building features prominently in plans for downtown revitalization in the Lake Wales Connected plans. "We're going to do it all over again," said City Manager James Slaton of the failure of the Request for Proposals (RFP) process. Despite multiple expressions of interest in the...

  • Soto Seeks Grant to Support First Street Reconstruction

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 15, 2022

    Efforts to re-imagine the urban core of Lake Wales as an attractive and shady pedestrian oasis filled with new businesses and restaurants continues to draw the support of both the public and private sectors. Congressman Darren Soto has announced that he is requesting a $1 million Federal grant to support street restoration in downtown Lake Wales. This project, one element of a multi-faceted effort, would revitalize 1st Street, which is a critical connector, unifying the...

  • Downtown Property Redevelopment on the Upswing

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 30, 2022

    Downtown Lake Wales is seeing a significant uptick in property transactions that some see as the result of ambitious street renewal plans being advanced by the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency. The CRA plans to invest some $18 million in renovations across a wide swath of the historic city center. In the latest transaction Monday, investors Stephen and Tammy James have acquired four additional parcels from the Park Avenue Building Company. The couple had purchased...

  • Lake Wales to Receive $800,000 From Federal Budget to Boost Connected Plan

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 24, 2022

    Converting downtown streets into a shady pedestrian oasis through the Lake Wales Connected plan got a financial boost as the City of Lake Wales has received a Federal grant. Congressman Darren Soto (Dem, Kissimmee) arranged an $800,000 infusion for downtown street rehabilitation in the bi-partisan Infrastructure package approved by the US Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden. Those funds will aid in fulfilling the Lake Wales Connected plan, augmenting Community...

  • City Gets Title to Seminole Hotel, Prepares to Give it to CRA

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jan 19, 2022

    One historic downtown hotel has become city property even as city commissioners wrestle with a development proposal on another. City Attorney Chuck Galloway reported to the board at Tuesday night's meeting that the deed to the Seminole Hotel would be recorded today, Wednesday, and that he would soon prepare documents transferring the title again, this time to the Community Redevelopment Agency. The announcements was met with nods from commissioners. The hotel was acquired afte...

  • Looking Back: The Top Ten News Stories of 2021 in Lake Wales

    News Staff|Updated Jan 12, 2022

    The year just completed saw a number of big stories that impacted the Lake Wales community, and we've taken a look back at them through the perspective of the new year. Here's how our staff ranked the biggest stories of 2021. 1) A development surge saw multiple projects brought forward for consideration by the Lake Wales Development Services and the City Commission, including the long-dormant Winter Haven Corporation project which is expected to include more than 6,000 new...

  • City Commission To Consider Suit To Regain Walesbilt Hotel

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 20, 2021

    The long-delayed resolution of the contract between the City of Lake Wales, the Community Redevelopment Agency and Walesbilt Hotel owner Ray Brown may be heading to a concluding chapter. Brown had been granted title to the building more than a decade ago on an agreement to redevelop the structure. Tuesday's City Commission agenda will include consideration of whether the city should file a lawsuit or take other action to regain possession of the eleven-story structure after...

  • City Commission Approves Purchase of Seminole Hotel Despite Last-Minute Appeal of Kebabjian

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 13, 2021

    The long saga of the Seminole Hotel took an unexpected last-minute twist Tuesday night before Lake Wales City Commissioners approved the purchase of the Seminole Hotel for $50,000 plus incidental closing costs. The vote came despite a surprise last-minute appeal from prior owner Harout "Henry" Kebabjian for an additional $17,000 he will now be forced to pay in order to provide a clear title to the property. Kebabjian, represented by an attorney, had agreed during binding...

  • Photo of Seminole Hotel

    City Gets Seminole Hotel Under Settlement Terms

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Dec 7, 2021

    The City of Lake Wales will apparently acquire the Seminole Hotel as a result of a deal reached during court-ordered mediation on November 12. The terms of the settlement were discussed by the City Commission at Wednesday's workshop meeting. "When it becomes ours, we're going to do the cleaning up," said Commissioner Terrye Howell. The deal will be closed with a vote next Tuesday. The property, built in 1929, has been the target of long-running code liens that quickly...

  • City Adopts Framework to Offer Incentives to Redevelop Distressed Property

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Apr 1, 2021

    Lake Wales City Commissioners have adopted a new incentive program to encourage redevelopment or restoration of distressed properties. Commissioners earlier this month approved a memorandum of understanding that can be used as a framework for future redevelopment agreements. The program would allow redevelopers access to funds they provided to purchase publicly owned properties or to pay off code enforcement liens. Instead of the city keeping or spending the funds, the...

  • Judge Gives Kebabjian More Time, Documents to Fight Seminole Hotel Foreclosure

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Feb 17, 2021

    Lake Wales city officials were hopeful the foreclosure sale of the historic Seminole Hotel would be ordered Feb. 12, but instead Circuit Judge Dana Moore agreed to allow current owner Harout "Henry" Kebabjian to continue his fight to develop the property. The city now will have to produce a large volume of documents related to the Seminole. Just a week before the foreclosure hearing Kebabjian's lawyer asked the court to have the city produce five years' worth of documents,...

  • Seminole Hotel Owner Can't Convince Commissioners to Suspend Foreclosure

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Dec 11, 2020

    Lake Wales City commissioners in a workshop session Dec. 9 indicated support for continuing with their foreclosure action on the historic Seminole Hotel. Only Commissioner Curtis Gibson expressed interest in holding off on the foreclosure and working with Henry Kebabjian, who purchased the hotel in August at a bargain basement price of $10,500. "Here's the deal," Gibson said. "We want to be pro-business. We want entrepreneurs to come into our city and work with us." But City...

  • Seminole Hotel Owner Asks City to Halt Foreclosure, Waive Fines

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Dec 2, 2020

    Henry Kebabjian is not giving up on his plans to redevelop the historic Seminole Hotel and is still hoping to convince Lake Wales city commissioners to drop their foreclosure action, waive code enforcement fines and allow him to go forward with the project. Kebabjian told commissioners at their Dec. 1 meeting that he now has more than $40,000 invested in the hotel, which he purchased for $10,500 in August. He said he has purchased property for parking south of the hotel on...

  • New Owner Wants City to Drop Foreclosure, Waive Fines on Seminole Hotel

    Chevon T. Baccus APR|Updated Sep 17, 2020

    Henry Kebabjian wants to redevelop the historic Seminole Hotel in downtown Lake Wales, but his timing may be a little off. Kebabjian bought the three-story hotel Aug. 19 at a bargain-basement price of $10,500, two months after the city's Code Enforcement Board voted to foreclose on the property. The city in 2017 declared the building unsafe, emptied it of tenants and condemned it for multiple code violations. Recent owner Cardiff Howell of Orlando was unable to submit an...

  • Police Officer Worley Files Grievance Over 8-Hour Suspension

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Sep 3, 2020

    Lake Wales Police Officer Travis Worley has filed a grievance through his union representative claiming the discipline he received for using profanity against a citizen – an eight-hour suspension without pay – is "excessive and not appropriate." Union President Nick Marolda with the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association filed a four-page grievance for Worley claiming the suspension violates the police officers' collective bargaining agreement. Marolda said the...

  • Suspended Detective Returned to Work, Disciplined for Profanity

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Aug 26, 2020

    Lake Wales Police Detective Travis Worley is back on active duty after a 10-week suspension with pay. An internal investigation determined he acted unprofessionally by using profanity toward a citizen, but couldn't prove he used racial slurs. His discipline was an eight-hour suspension without pay. The investigation by Lt. Griffin Crosby concluded that "Officer Worley used multiple profane words while in an argument with Deandre Ward. He failed to maintain professional speech...

  • City May Take Possession of Historic Seminole Hotel

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jul 1, 2020

    The City of Lake Wales may take possession of the historic Seminole Hotel, now two and one-half years after it was first condemned as unsafe. The Lake Wales Code Enforcement Board Thursday, June 25 authorized the city to move forward with foreclosing on the property, since owner Cardiff Howell had been unable to correct multiple code violations or to sell the hotel to someone who could restore it. If the city takes possession, commissioners will have to decide what to do with...

  • City Growth Keeps Development Office Busy

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Nov 6, 2019

    Recognizing her increased responsibilities in development services as the City of Lake Wales experiences a growth spurt, Kathy Bangley recently was promoted to assistant city manager for planning and economic development. Bangley's promotion carries with it an annual salary of $98,000, a pay increase of 10 percent over what she was making in July. Bangley's office has been extremely busy working with numerous developers planning new restaurants, retail establishments and...

  • Seminole Hotel Project Moving Forward as City Reviews Plans

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Aug 20, 2019

    The prospective developers of the historic Seminole Hotel shared conceptual site plans with Lake Wales city officials Tuesday, Aug. 13. South Florida architect Rick Gonzalez produced the drawings in partnership with local developer Ray Brown. Gonzalez has more than 30 years' experience restoring historic buildings and serves as vice chair of the Florida Historical Commission. City Development Services Director Kathy Bangley said she was pleased with the conceptual plans and lo...

  • Seminole Hotel Demolition Bid Comes in at $700,000

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jun 12, 2019

    The City of Lake Wales now has even more incentive to support prospective developers of the historic Seminole Hotel: the bid to demolish it came in June 4 at $700,000. Simpson Environmental Services of Trilby, FL submitted the lone bid, calling for $100,000 for the demolition and another $600,000 for "asbestos and road closure." City Planning and Development Director Kathy Bangley said city officials have made no decisions regarding the demolition bid: "It is currently...

  • City Staff Pledges Cooperation with Seminole Hotel Developers

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jun 5, 2019

    Lake Wales city staff members and the proposed developers of the historic Seminole Hotel gathered for their first official meeting to outline necessary steps to move the project forward. Planning and Development Director Kathy Bangley told city commissioners Tuesday June 4 that developer Ray Brown had submitted an acceptable plan and would be granted access to the hotel starting Thursday, June 6. Bangley brought four staff members to the May 30 meeting with Brown, while...

  • Developer Brown Takes Seminole Hotel Spat to City Commission

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated May 22, 2019

    Developer Ray Brown took his frustration with city staff directly to the Lake Wales City Commission Tuesday May 21 and left the meeting with a commitment to at least discuss how to move forward his plans to restore the historic Seminole Hotel. After some "he said, she said" banter that left commissioners expressing their own frustrations, City Planning and Development Director Kathy Bangley assured the commission "we will do everything to accommodate their team." Vice Mayor Ro...

  • Architect Wants Financial Interest in Historic Seminole Hotel and 30 Apartments

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated May 14, 2019

    Rick Gonzalez is passionate about restoring historic buildings and he loves Lake Wales. The South Florida architect finally got his first look last week inside the Seminole Hotel and now he's ready to not only create a detailed restoration plan but also to become a financial partner with developer Ray Brown. "I've been doing this work for 30 years and I've seen all types of conditions for historic buildings. This building is just like many others - there's nothing...

  • New Commissioner Takes Office

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated May 8, 2019

    The Lake Wales City Commission changed slightly Tuesday, May 7 with the installation of new City Commissioner Al Goldstein. Goldstein was elected without opposition for a two-year term after Commissioner Tonya Stewart failed to qualify when her collection of signatures fell short. With wife Shirley at his side, Goldstein was installed by state Rep. Melony Bell, who also swore in Mayor Eugene Fultz, who won re-election in April and will serve three more years. Several family...

  • CRA Grant Program Aims to Boost Food-Related Businesses

    Robert Connors, Associate Editor|Updated May 8, 2019

    New restaurants, coffee shops, micro-breweries and grocery stores planned for the heart of Lake Wales are eligible to take advantage of up to $50,000 from a new CRA grant program to help get them off the ground. The grants are designed to stimulate the development of new food-related businesses in Lake Wales' two Community Redevelopment Districts. They are administered through the City's Community Redevelopment Agency. Targeting a variety of food and beverage businesses, the...

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