The latest round of design plans, derived from resident feedback, feature more open green space for conservation, recreation and aesthetic purposes.
Fujio Cho, considered to be the founding father of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A., once said ‘plans are things that change.’
For the owners of Walden Lake, LLC who seek to redevelop the 425-acre defunct Walden Lake Golf Course and Country Club, that statement couldn’t be more true. Its plans have been modified extensively, more than ten times with 50 different renditions over the last three-plus years. The first Planning Department application was submitted in 2020 after feedback from a 2019 Town Hall Meeting with residents of Walden Lake. Since then, numerous site plan revisions have been made, from reducing the number of residential lots due to EPC comments to elimating all 40’ wide lots from the development.
The company purchased the property from Today’s Bank of Arkansas in 2019 after foreclosure action was taken against the previous owner, Visions Golf, who failed in its attempt to redevelop the property.
“We want what’s best for the community and we’ve spent a lot of time listening to feedback from Walden Lake residents along with comments during Plant City Planning Board public hearings,” said Mary Ellen Collins of Martin Communications.
Its most recent plans include a reduction of 27 percent in the total number of residences, from 766 to 560, eliminating the Village Center concept including its 20,000 square foot neighborhood retail component and all 260 multi-family units, removing all single-family lots less than 80-feet wide from the site plan and eliminating nine specific approval requests for residential development.
The updated plans show that less than 30 percent of the entire acreage will be developed, leaving 220 acres of open green space that will be preserved for conservation, recreation and aesthetic purposes. Collins is confident that current residents of Walden Lake will enjoy the proposed 15 acres of usable active open space including a pedestrian trail system through the community as well as dog parks, exercise areas and pocket parks. A new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Griffin Blvd. and Turkey Creek Rd.
“Our goal is to partner with the newly-elected WLCA board to identify sustainable amenities that both current and future residents will appreciate,” said Collins.
The new plan was submitted to City staff on September 12 and is being evaluated regarding its compatibility with existing land uses and Walden Lake’s Community Unit zoning designation.
Plant City planning and zoning coordinator Robyn Baker said the changes are being reviewed and they’ll be seeking public comments soon. “We’re beginning to look for dates for the request to begin the public hearing process,” she said. One challenge is that because the project draws so much public interest, the hearings have to be held at the Trinkle Center, a space capable of accommodating a large number of people. “We’re at their mercy as far as dates are concerned and I’m assuming because of the holidays there aren’t many to choose from,” said Baker. “More than likely available dates will be after the first of the year.”
Collins is hopeful that given that City staff found the prior plan compatible, the recalibrated plans will be received favorably so they can begin the neighborhood improvements.
To learn more about its plans visit the developer’s website at www.MovingWaldenLakeForward.com.