Plant City has experienced plenty of residential growth lately, much of it starter or one-step-above starter home development on small lots scattered around the outskirts of the city. Further, it is well known the city has an interest in midtown revitalization to maintain and improve the character of that area. Within the midst of all this is the Walden Lake Development, the one-time golf course community with many large lot homes that should be the shining star of the city. While that star has begun to lose its luster, sprinkling starter and one step above starter homes throughout the Walden Lake community will do nothing to bring it back – and likely make it worse.
The concept of interest to the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is a midtown town center shopping area with walkable residential units to support it. This is the same concept that the Walden Lake infill developer is trying to shoe-horn into Walden Lake. This concept makes little sense embedded in Walden Lake and this proposed high density apartment/retail project should be built in a more compatible location. This would reduce but not preclude all in-fill within Walden Lake. Development infill in Walden Lake should favor larger lot homes, and compatible townhomes/villas rather than four-story megaliths on the highest point in Walden Lake that impact everyone’s viewscape. For that concept to do well within the community it will also have to draw retail customers from outside the development, adding to traffic and reducing the tranquility that the community has been known for. Nonetheless, re-vitalization within the Walden Lake footprint could be a positive for the community-at-large and even provide support for a mid-town retail area.
This comment is to request that the City/CRA seriously consider such a proposal that could lead to a win-win-win for all parties (the city/CRA, the developer, and the Walden Lake community). Please consider opening discussions with Walden Lake LLC in an effort to properly locate the town center in an actual “town” and allow Walden Lake to experience some re-development and re-vitalization, while continuing to be an asset for the city. Let’s try to develop Plant City with a holistic vision and not piece meal. I believe that’s your job and we’re counting on you.