People in Downtown Plant City could soon see more places to shop, eat and play.
The East Downtown Gateway is a half mile stretch of property, close to Interstate 4 and the historic district, that may soon be redeveloped. The proposed project would take many empty lots and abandoned buildings along Plant City's Reynolds Street and Baker Street and develop them into office spaces, retail areas, urgent care, food preparation, law offices and even banking.
Many locals feel this is long overdue.
"The strawberry festival is the main reason people come to town," said Fidel De LaCruz, a local grocery store manager. "If they know that something is different in Plant City, something to find, they'll go in and check: what is it?"
The Plant City Economic Development Corporation is also hoping to develop the old iconic post office at the corner of Wheeler and Reynolds Streets into a restaurant or retail space.
"It's definitely the best kept secret in Florida I think is Plant City," said Michael Gartz, who owns Elite Home Fitness.
However, Gartz has seen few new businesses gravitating to Plant City in the 15 years he's been in downtown. He's anxious to see more entrepreneurs and young people make their start here.
"It's just an awesome town," he said.
Plant City currently has more than 2.5 million square feet of commercial space available and 3,000 acres of land ready for development, according to the Plant City Economic Development Corporation.
Plant City is already seeing lots of growth and city leaders say there is a huge need for new services and transforming this five-mile stretch could be the answer.