WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - After years of planning, city leaders in Winter Haven decided to pull the plug on a developer's quest to build a major retail and dining center.
The city commission voted unanimously to end the contract for The Landings, after they say the developer failed to hold up his side of the deal.
Part of the project is already up and running.
Nearly a year ago, the developer demolished the iconic orange dome in Winter Haven, making room for phase one: Starbucks, Chic-fil-A, and Panera Bread. Those restaurants opened late last year.
But that was more of an appetizer. The much-anticipated main course is the shopping center and hotel that even planned a water taxi to and from Legoland.
"The commission certainly had a vision for the property and the project and what it could be and what it could represent for the city. I know it’s an old cliche, but the devil is always in the details," said David Dickey, Community Development Director for Winter Haven.
Some of those details include the public recreation center on the property that the developer wanted to move, but the city did not because of the additional cost.
The two sides also clashed over the types of stores and restaurants.
After Monday night's vote, the city sent a three-page letter to the developer, basically saying we're done and it's over. The developer, Taylor Pursell, has 30 days to pick up his materials, equipment and signs, and get out.
"I think the commission is going to need a chance to talk about this amongst themselves and figure out what their next step is," Dickey said.
Attempts to reach Pursell and his attorney were not successful.
As of now, it appears The Landings will indefinitely remain the way it stands right now: half-done.
"It’s very sad that they couldn't work it out because they should have thought about the people in Polk County and the unemployment rate and how much the people would have benefited," said Nilda Sodo, a Winter Haven resident who works in the field of helping people find jobs.
"That would have been a lot of jobs to this area that are much needed," she said.
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