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This red dotted lines in this rendering outline the area slated for redevelopment in downtown Haines City.
This red dotted lines in this rendering outline the area slated for redevelopment in downtown Haines City. (Haines City)

Haines City officials are looking for an experienced developer transform a nearly 1.4-acre site behind the City Hall - Library complex into a tasteful-yet-vibrant residential and commercial hub.

The city has posted a Request for Proposals to purchase or lease two parcels, which are in the city’s downtown redevelopment area. The parcels, at 117 N. Seventh St. and 121 N. Eighth St., are known as the Dance Studio and Cromer properties. Each have a building that would likely be demolished as part of any infill redevelopment plan.

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Mark Bennett, Haines City’s deputy director of Development Services and the Community Redevelopment Agency manager, said the redevelopment would be a public-private partnership that could involve some incentives for the developer. CRA grants have been used successfully on streetscapes and façade improvements in the downtown area.

“Property owners who are willing to spend additional money to improve the appearance of their project, we give them grants to reimburse them some of the cost,” Bennett told GrowthSpotter. “What I would envision with these proposals is the proposers would come to us and say, ‘We’re looking for these kinds of incentives.’”

The city is flexible on other components of the redevelopment project as well. For instance, the request for proposals lays out parameters for two potential development plans, both of which include mixed residential and commercial uses with parking.

This picture shows a conceptual plan for how Haines City leaders would like to see the block behind City Hall redeveloped. Other designs are also welcome.
This picture shows a conceptual plan for how Haines City leaders would like to see the block behind City Hall redeveloped. Other designs are also welcome. (Haines City)

One plan envisions the 57-year-old, 10,570-square-foot dance studio to give way to two structures: a three-story parking garage with 150 spaces, and another three-story building with 32 residential units on the top two floors, and a ground floor with 20,000 square feet of retail.

The alternate plan would add a fourth story to the mixed-use building for 16 additional residential units. Under both suggested plans, the smaller, Cromer property would be used for surface parking with 54 spaces.

The RFP also lists potential commercial uses that city leaders would hope to incorporate: a microbrewery; restaurant and/or cooking facilities for either a restaurant incubator or cooking training; and 5,000 to 6,000 square feet of office space for the city’s Development Services Department and CRA.

But Bennett stresses that these two proposals by the city are not fixed in concrete.

“We’re trying to say, ‘This is pretty cool; we’d like to see it, but you don’t have to do that,’” he said. “The renderings show an ideal design for the subject property; however, a proposer is not limited to that. We’re saying, ‘We like this, but you come up with something else that works, we’re open to that too.’”

What the city does want to see in any successful proposal is a strong residential component.

“We think having a residential component would add to improving the vitality, increase foot traffic and creating more business downtown,” he said. “We’re hoping the ideal project will include residential.”

In keeping with its motto, “Haines City Forward – One City, One Vision,” the city has sponsored and incentivized a number of beautification projects including the Ingraham Avenue Streetscape, which included street repaving, sidewalk improvements, landscaping, decorative streetlights, benches, and trash receptacles. At about the same time, the city revitalized Railroad Park. And, in 2011, the city moved City Hall and the library into a new complex of buildings downtown.

Proposals need to be in by Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. They should be addressed to City of Haines City, Attn: City Clerk (RFP# 190812), 620 E. Main St., Haines City, FL 33844 Phone: (863) 421-3600. The city will hold an optional pre-bid meeting on Sept. 3.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at Newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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