Developers plan modern housing and retail project to change the lifestyle of downtown Lakeland

LAKELAND, Fla. - A new development for Downtown Lakeland passed a big hurdle Monday morning, gaining approval from city commissioners.

The housing and retail project called NOBAY, for north of Bay Street, would be constructed on the Bay Street parking lot.

"We think this is a game changer. We think our downtown has not seen any development of this scale in over 10 years. We're excited to kickstart that effort now," said Matt Clark, president of Broadway Real Estate Services, which is developing the project.

The 84-unit modern apartment complex will have some retail stores, a gym, a salon and a restaurant.

"We hope this creates a major ripple effect through downtown, that there's lots of other development that occurs," Clark said.

The sticking point for some is the surface that would disappear.

"The biggest issue I have is where are people going to park?" said Marni Johnson, who runs Home Essentials and owns several buildings surrounding the project.

She is for NOBAY, but wonders how it will affect her business.

Before the city commission approved the project Monday morning, Commissioner Jim Malless raised the same concerns.

"We want to help these people get their project built, but we also need to take care of these folks already there doing business," he said.

The goal of NOBAY is to give its residents a 24-7 live, play and work lifestyle.

Right now the "live" part is missing due to a lack of housing.

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