Historic Lakeland landmark now a pile of rubble

Posted at 6:06 PM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 18:09:04-05

A historic landmark in Lakeland now sits in a pile of rubble.

The structure built in the 40s is known as the Googie building, named after its style of architecture.

Up until the end, it housed a vacuum shop and an art studio.

"I'm terribly saddened to see it demolished," said Natalie Oldenkamp of Historic Lakeland, the group that tried to save the historic structure.

On Monday, the new owners, the Lakeland Economic Development Council (LEDC), caught many by surprise and immediately started tearing down the building the same day they got their permits pulled.

"I just got back from Manhattan, and I was completely floored and saddened, and it actually made me cry. It really did," she said. "I don't even want to drive by it."

Since the group didn't own the property, they knew that their only option was to try and convince the LEDC to keep the building or at least work the historic style into their new plans.

But the new owners had something else in mind, and that something had absolutely nothing to do with the historic architecture that stood tall for more than five decades.

The property will soon be turned into a parking garage for Catapult Lakeland, moving into the renovated building next door. The program is an incubator for entrepreneurs and is also run by the LEDC.

Many in Historic Lakeland were under the impression that LEDC would come back to them before they moved ahead with demolition.

"In the end, they own it, and they can do what they want, and I respect that... But I was just hoping for a different outcome," Oldenkamp said.

The director of the LEDC did not return our calls for comment, but Historic Lakeland said the LEDC did listen to their plea to save it.

However, they clearly chose a different route.