Solution Source may soon develop the empty lot on Wheeler Street if commissioners approve the project.
One more empty lot may soon be transformed thanks to the city’s desire to develop the property at the South Wheeler Street and West J Arden Mays Boulevard intersection.
The lot isn’t massive — the land is approximately 0.6 acres — and the city hopes to transform it into a destination.
The city sent out a Request for Proposals for the potential development and received two bids from groups that wish to transform the property. In a rare turn of events, both parties have ties to Plant City.
However, it was a ranking system and one came out on top. Commissioners will determine if they are ready to move forward with the project during Monday’s commission meeting.
Solution Source was one of the two parties bidding on the development and was ranked first. Solution Source principals Michael and Shelley Jemison “have managed the development and construction of multiple projects throughout central and southwest Florida.”
The firm is based in Plant City and has been listed on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the nation for five consecutive years.
Michael Jemison may ring familiar to many in the community. Solution Source is a member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, Plant City Main Street and the Plant City EDC, and Michael Jemison sits on the EDC’s Executive Committee.
A partner with Solution Source’s bid is Brandon Snyder, who will act as an advisor for the project. Snyder currently owns and operates Roots Tap Room and Wine Bar on Evers Street.
Solution is also joined by Steve Boggs of Boggs Engineering, who will provide “civil engineering services for site development, utilities and ROW.” Keith Smith, with GrayRobinson Lakeland’s office, will serve as legal counsel.
Solution Source said in its bid that the design of the proposed building will be centered around community engagement. It said it intentionally reduced the building footprint in order to accommodate more parking and streetscape.
“There is low availability of new commercial space in downtown which has allowed us to attract verbal commitments for more than 75 percent of the commercial space,” the bid read.
The project is called “Wheeler Street Station” and the plan is to have a 13,450-square foot first floor with six different units. The Bank of Tampa, Day Spa and the Plant City EDC have already expressed interest in becoming tenants and Solution Source said a national pizza restaurant, a gourmet deli as well as an American-style restaurant have also expressed interest.
The second and third floors are designed for 16 units per floor ranging from 500 to 1,350 square feet.
When it came down to the nitty-gritty aspects of the agreement, however, the bid was relatively vague. In the purchase proposal, Solution Source proposed that the CRA and the developer enter into a development agreement and a ground lease agreement for the developer’s acquisition of the property.
“The Development Agreement will describe Developer’s obligations to improve the property. The CRA and the Developer will also enter into a Ground Lease Agreement authorizing the Developer to improve property as required by the Development Agreement. When the CRA has approved the required improvements to the property as required by the Development Agreement, the CRA will convey the property to Developer at a price mutually agreed upon by the parties,” the proposal read.
City Manager Bill McDaniel will ask commissioners on Sept. 14 to enter into negotiations with the two respondents for the RFP in succession of the ranking order. If commissioners agree, McDaniel can immediately enter negotiations with Solution Source. If that negotiation fails, the city can negotiate with the second bidder.
The second bid was prepared by Southeast Building & Land, LLC. Southeast Building is based in Georgia and 1320 Partners is a Plant City-based LLC. R. John Anderson, who has developed many mid-sized mixed-use infill projects, will be the lead urban designer and Marques King, whose experience spans from large-scale international projects to urban residential and mixed use buildings, will be the project architect.
Andy Kalback will be the landscape architect and Plant City-based Dykstra Construction and Glenn Bros. Construction are handling the project.
Plant City residents Jay Hollenkamp, Steven Hollenkamp and Arley Smude are the principals in the project. The Hollenkamps renovated the building at 101 S. Evers St. to transform a consignment shop into an 800-square foot 2/1 apartment and a 700-square foot commercial unit, which is now Roots.
The plan is to build a public park via a partnership with the City of Plant City and local philanthropists on the western side of the lot. Then the company wants to build a mixed-use development on the eastern side of the lot.
It will be a blend of one, two or three-story structures. To solve the parking issue, the group planned to create parking spaces behind the six buildings on the property.
Finally, the group suggested it renovates the one existing structure on the lot “to serve as a transition between the historic structures on the east of the block and the new structures on the west of the block.”
In total, Southeast Building estimated the total development cost of the project at $5.5 million.
Once it opens, there will be 30 new apartments, 13 ground floor retail-commercial units ranging from 700 to 840 square feet, six micro-offices, one restaurant and 39 parking spaces.
The commercial spaces will be small and the apartments will be one and two bedrooms ranging from 700 to 860 square feet, which the group noted are in limited supply downtown.
Each of the three three-story buildings will have a handicapped-accessible ground floor apartment, a single stairwell and no elevator.
The developer proposed three three-story structures, two one-story structures, one single story restaurant and a two-story carriage house on the property.
The hidden parking lot will have 20 spaces and the group hopes to partner with the City to add an additional 19 spots on sides of the lot.
The cost estimate for the project doesn’t include the development and construction cost of the park component of the project or public streetscape, as the group proposed entering a partnership with the City of Plant City for those.
Commissioners will decide at 7:30 p.m. Monday if they wish to enter negotiations for the project.