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Lakeland Park Center brings new shops, 200+ jobs to Polk County

The Tampa Bay area economy is getting a boost from new shops opening at the Lakeland Park Center, the 20th Florida property owned and managed by Michigan-based Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust.

The 210,000-square-foot shopping center is anchored by Dick's Sporting Goods, Ross Dress for Less, PetSmart, and Floor and Décor. Other shops are Old Navy, Shoe Carnival, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant and America's Best (contacts and eyewear), and ULTA Beauty.

"It's the first major shopping center in awhile after some smaller projects up U.S. 98 before the Great Recession," says Jim Studiale, Lakeland's community development director. "I guess it's also a sign in that it's a major redevelopment of an area that had been badly redeveloped."

Ramco-Gershenson was patient and financially able to acquire dozens of parcels including a recreational vehicle park and wait out the market, Studiale says. "It's been a hard road for them," he says. "I don't know that I believed it until I saw it coming out of the ground."

Company officials say more than 200 jobs are being filled at the shopping center which fronts Interstate 4 on Lakeland Park Center Drive. It is across from the company's Target-anchored Shoppes of Lakeland, at U.S. Highway 98.

"Besides the obvious benefits of the project in terms of capital investments and new jobs, the new retail development brings the neighborhood enhanced convenience and quality of life," says Jim DeGennaro, Polk County's community development manager.

Ramco-Gershenson also owns parcels that surround the shopping center that will be part of a second phase of development though no start date has been announced. New retail and additional jobs are anticipated.

"There is a lot of economic development anticipated around this property now but in future as well, which is very good for the community," says Dawn Hendershot, VP of  Ramco-Gershenson's investor relations.

Investment including construction and land purchase for Lakeland Park Center is estimated at about $34 million.

The public is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 23. Retailers also plan a family-oriented event from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 with store giveaways and coupons, a bounce house, face painting and more.

In the Tampa Bay area, Ramco-Gershenson's Florida properties include Cypress Point shopping center on U.S. Highway 19 North in Clearwater. The shopping center is anchored by The Fresh Market and Burlington Coat Factory.

Read more articles by Kathy Steele.

Kathy Steele is a feature writer and editor at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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