Four companies put in bids in hopes of being selected to bring the Midtown District to life. The CRA board ranked the entries and selected DevMar Development as its top choice.
Hopes are rising once more as the City of Plant City begins walking the now familiar path toward bringing the long-awaited Midtown District to life.
The meeting was nearly four hours long. Presentations were in-depth and full of varying visions for the city. The way the city has its RFP set up allows the CRA to rank submissions and then, if issues arise during the process with one of the groups where the agreement is terminated, they can simply go down the list to the next offer and begin the conversation anew with that developer instead. It saves precious time for the city as it wouldn’t have to start the bid process all over again if a problem popped up.
All of the CRA board members echoed one sentiment following the wrap-up of the final presentation: this decision was a close call.
The final rankings were within mere points of each other, which bodes well if the city decides it needs to scurry down the list toward the other bids. Ultimately, DevMar Development — the only group not from Florida to present — got the highest ranking. Hailing from Birmingham, Michigan, the group plans to focus on a mixed-use midtown that will have everything from residential to retail and have a mix of restaurants and commercial spaces.
Green Mills Group, Mosaic Development and Housing Trust Group were the other three bidders.
DevMar’s vision starts at the Village Green Park. This was the first and only development of Midtown the city ever saw bloom. It now will act as the center of the spiderweb for the upcoming district.
The company said it plans to expand the park into a “newly developed activity park to the south of the fountain park, which will be developed into a combined park feature with common amenities for the residential component of the development, such as a clubhouse, swimming pool and sand volleyball courts.”
Foot traffic was something that repeatedly came up throughout the presentation. To have a healthy and thriving district, you need to have people strolling from store to store and restaurant to restaurant. You want people who come to chill with their friends at the park and then decide to hop across the street for a glass of wine. You’ll want families to meet up for a game of volleyball and then, when they’re tired out, decide to walk toward downtown to enjoy a meal prepared in the heart of Plant City.
The park will be the heartbeat. To indicate that, the plan is for it to span two full blocks. Surrounding it on the north, east and south will be the meat of the community: residential. Each of the buildings will have residential rental apartments on the top with retail, restaurants and cafes on the bottom. With people living above where they play, they’ll spend much of their free time and some of their dollars right there in their own backyard.
Playing on the spiderweb analogy, if a family or group of friends starts at the park, they’ll be able to slowly turn in a circle and eyeball a variety of options available to them for where to go next. The majority of the restaurants and cafes will hug Evers and Renfro streets and face the park with “piazza-style sidewalk dining seating.”
It will make the area seem much more accessible, too, as there will be stylized and aesthetically pleasing foliage, benches and other amenities strewn throughout to transform the area into a hub.
Collins Street — between Alabama and Renfro streets — will also have the multi-use buildings that will have residential on the top and commercial on the bottom.
“Under the development, a total of 18 studios, 374 one-bedroom units and 81 two-bedroom residential apartment units for a total of 473 apartment units with an additional 18,430 square feet of retail, restaurant and café space will be added to Midtown and the Plant City urban center,” the proposal reads.
The plan is for the development to be broken up into four phases.
Phase 1 will include 124 residential units, 14,030 square feet of restaurant, café and retail space, and 4,090 square feet of commons and activity park. Once the contract is signed then the submission for approval is estimated to take 90 days. The submission of permit documents for approval is estimated for January of 2021.In Phase 2, the company will build 113 residential units and 2,400 square feet of restaurant, café and retail space. Phase 3 is planned to have 105 residential units and 2,000 square feet of restaurant, café and retail space. The entire project will wrap up with Phase 4, which includes the final 131 residential units.
However, the company did say that any phase beyond Phase 1 will “be advanced as market and absorption dictates.”
The process is just beginning as the city has to now reach a development agreement with the company. Then a master plan will be presented and, if approved, the next phase involves obtaining financing. Then comes the process of ground leases, minimum development agreements and construction.
Despite the fact this is the fourth time the city has walked this path, spirits were optimistic during last week’s presentations. If DevMar’s vision does come to life, it will transform the district from a concrete parking lot into a haven visitors from all over will flock to.