Two proposals were brought to city commissioners Monday evening. 2XS Development, LLC walked away with the vote.
So it begins. The wait for development in the long-promised Midtown District appears to be drawing to a close.
City Hall was nearly filled as the public gathered with bated breaths to hear who had officially put in a bid to develop the nearly 16 acres of Midtown. They say third time’s the charm and this time around the city had the RFB constructed so those who placed bids could be ranked rather than having one outright winner. That way if the highest ranking bidder began the process with the city, but then backed out the city could go to the second ranking bid without having to start over.
Only two bids were placed with the city for the project. One company, Green Mills Group, had been before the city before.
It wanted to develop essentially one block, creating an approximately 75 unit structure that was rent restricted. The company batted around the idea of it potentially being a senior only or a family unit.
The company said once a beautiful building is up with tenants it becomes a catalyst and development will come.
The second bidder, 2XS Development, LLC, in partnership with Lillian Venture Group, LLC, said they wanted to develop the entire nearly 16-acre district in four phases. Lillian Venture Group intends to be a major financial participant in the redevelopment. It entered into an agreement with 2XS to provide as much as $1,500,000 for the funding with a contingency expansion to $2,500,000 if needed, according to the bid.
Sam Bauer and Steven Katz, owners of 2XS, along with their entire team were in attendance for the presentation lead by Elliot Cohen, with neighborhood relations. Each team member was introduced to the commission and shared their experience, showing the city they were committed to the entirety of the project.
The plan is to incorporate mixed use and residential and create a blossoming Midtown via four distinct phases.
Phase one would tackle 5.1 acres, creating a mixed-use area with mid to fine dining, micro restaurants, communal dining, a microbrewery or bar component, boutique retail and office on the first floor. It would also have three to six floors of one, two and three bedroom rental units. As long as permitting goes smoothly, construction would be completed by 2021.
Phase two involves another 5.8 acres and is planned as a for-sale townhouse product, which would be a three story house with a garage and den or bedroom on the first floor, a main living area and kitchen on the second floor and bedrooms and laundry on the third floor. At the presentation, Bauer said they hope to start phase two merely a few months after the start of phase one with the potential to completed as early as 2020.
Phase three would develop three acres of products similar to phase one with planned improvement of possibly a grocery store with a whole foods type vendor. As long as the market is on track, the development would begin in 2021 and should be completed by 2023.
Phase four is the final 1.4 acres located on the east side of Collins Avenue. Currently the plan is mixed use and would have similar aspects to phase one and three. Depending on market demand there could be condos for sale, office or more rental product on the upper floors.
“The success of Midtown cannot be at the expense of downtown,” Cohen said. “We want to focus on small businesses, which will be the lifeblood of the development… 2XS didn’t simply find this RFP online. We’ve been here, we will be here.”
The company also promised to hire locally for the project. Citing its combined extensive experience, Bauer said the team would be able to help make Plant City a destination.
“The theme we are going for is a very vibrant go-to place,” Bauer said. “We hope to have people coming here that are currently living in Tampa. We want to make this the place to live.”
Input from the community is a major focus for 2XS, according to Cohen, and they plan to build a bridge between community opinion and their finished product. The total development could have approximately 500 residential units, which would bring more than 1,000 people living downtown.
Bauer also stated they would want the city to give them the property to start development. Commissioner Bill Dodson pressed Bauer on the assurances the city would not be left hanging if they handed the valuable land over and then nothing came to pass. He asked what would happen if the market stalled and the plans suddenly halted. Bauer assured in negotiations they would come to an agreement that would work for both.
Commissioner Mike Sparkman added that the details of the negotiation were not what was currently being discussed and that they needed to let the city manager deal with that end of the agreement.
“I have confidence in our city manager (Bill) McDaniel… and our legal council to work out those details to the point where the city would have a safeguard if necessary,” Sparkman said. “I think we’re getting off on something that’s really not relevant to what our charge is tonight. I’m not a lawyer and you’re not either that’s why we have lawyers and we give it to staff for them to protect the city and go forward and get back to us.”
McDaniel said once negotiations were entered he would ensure the city was protected and reminded the commissioners they would be a part of this approving every step.
The commissioners then ranked the two bids and unanimously voted to approve 2XS as the developer. Lott said the city was willing to wait as long as it took to find the right partner, but that he was looking forward to seeing how negotiations played out and potentially entering into a partnership with the group.
“Thank you all very much,” Bauer said. “Again we really appreciate your time and vote of confidence. We firmly believe you are done with this process.”