MAIN STREET RENEWAL
Lakeland design board gives approval to hip new hangout
Concludes rigidity could ruin area redevelopment
By Christopher Guinn
Published: Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 10:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 10:57 p.m.
LAKELAND — The eclectic, recycled, one-from-many design of 801 E. Main, a newly opened commercial venture that takes its name from its address, received full endorsement from the city's Design Review Committee despite some by-the-book dings.
The sum is a product of the parts, committee members agreed Thursday, though they contemplated what kind of precedent the approval would set on future development.
The reclaimed material and multiple buildings inside a fenced courtyard — including an aluminum shed, a renovated garage, a teepee and the better part of a "canned ham" style travel trailer — might be hard to replicate.
"The space is great," committee member Brad Lunz told Joe and Cynthia Diaz of The Corner Store and Jarrid Masse of The Poor Porker, businesses located at the new complex. "The way you redeveloped it is great. How we look at it through the design guidelines is difficult.
"You're pioneering," but if the committee was to approve a project outside the guidelines, "we want to make sure we're setting that bar at a level that is appropriate."
The committee, part of the Historic Preservation Board, determines whether buildings in the city's historic areas comply with design rules. The goal is to preserve the character of neighborhoods.
"We understand we're pioneering," Joe Diaz said. "We've got a lot of creativity involved and sometimes that creativity gets the best of us, but the outcome was to take something that hasn't been used for a long time and turn it into something desirable."
The reaction in the community to the new space has proven that a success, he added.
Bearcat and Big 6, a mercantile store, The Poor Porker, founded on the strength of its beignets, and The Corner Store, a specialty food shop, are little parts of the larger whole. At night there is beer, wine and live music. College students have started using the spot as a day-long hangout, Diaz said.
The city's professional staff recommended 801 E. Main change the material covering the aluminum shed, change the corrugated metal gate facing Main Street, allow views out the gates and remove the trailer hitch on the travel trailer turned seating area.
Rather than cover The Corner Store with regular siding, the galvanized aluminum is meant to be "bright and shiny," drawing attention to the corner of the property where it resides, otherwise it might be mistaken for storage, Masse said.
"There was a lot of thought and energy in how that site was going to be developed,"
Lunz, an architect with Lunz Prebor Fowler Architects, said the property worked.
"All these little micro spaces working as one larger space" is a trend that has emerged in recent years, he said. "It's a marketplace, it's a bazaar."
The risk of the approval is that it would set precedent that would be difficult to codify, Lunz said.
"You want to be a source of inspiration, you don't want to see bad copies," he said.
But the other risk was to squelch the emerging aesthetic along the Main Street corridor, an area just outside the downtown district that is receiving attention from established artists for projects like 801 E. Main, The Lakeland Brewing Co. and soon a warehouse conversion for studio and boutique KRaP Art in partnership with local music label Swan City Sounds.
— Christopher Guinn can be reached at Christopher.Guinn@theledger.com or 863-802-7592. Follow him on Twitter @CGuinnNews.