During a special called meeting at City Hall on Monday evening, July 17, 2023, a momentous decision was made as the Lakeland Board of Commissioners (BOC) officially authorized the acquisition of the Econo Lodge Motel, owned by Quantum Hotels, L.L.C., following Resolution R-60-2023. In a separate vote, the city also secured the property across from the Econo Lodge, currently a gravel parking lot. As of September 1st, 2023, the ownership of the property officially transfers to the City of Lakeland, officially marking the end of the motel’s existence.
The vote for moving forward with the purchase was carried out by three out of the five BOC members, including Mayor Josh Roman, Vice Mayor Wesley Wright, and Commissioner Michelle Dial. Commissioner Jim Atkinson was not in attendance Monday evening but has supported the initiative in previous votes. Commissioner Connie McCarter dissented and voted against the acquisition of the Econo Lodge.
As reported here, funding for the purchase will come from a property tax increase while the purpose of acquiring the Econo Lodge, and the associated land, is to develop a new YMCA community center. Officials say the removal of the motel and the development of a community center is an integral part of the Gateway TIF redevelopment initiative for the Canada Road exit. The legal process of condemning the property had been ongoing, and a tentative resolution was reached on June 28, leading to Monday’s vote to officially possess the motel on September 1, 2023.
The acquisition cost for the approximately five-acre property, including the motel, amounts to $2.625 million. Additionally, the board also voted 3-1 in favor of purchasing an additional 1-acre parcel situated between the Refuge Church and the Super 8 motel on Huff N Puff Road. This vacant land is currently being utilized as a semi-truck trailer parking lot, and the city is acquiring it for $500,000.
According to city attorney Will Patterson, though there are still ongoing legal proceedings, the possession of the property is confirmed and set for September 1st. Lakeland City Manager, Michael Walker, told the BOC demolition of the motel could happen quickly should they so desire. “It we take possession on September 1, we would work with our demolition vendor so that they could schedule and plan to secure the site immediately, or as soon as we would like after that September 1 date.”