The Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency board unanimously adopted a 10-year strategy to revitalize the downtown area and the northwest neighborhood of the city on Oct. 1 2019.
City leaders named the strategy Lake Wales Connected and the strategy has a few key components: planting thousands of shade canopy trees which tend to raise property value and have quality of life benefits. The plan also calls for the addition of a town square, extending trails and bike paths to unify city neighborhoods, completing a network of sidewalks, and encouraging more affordable housing through city incentives.
Progress is being made in terms of city staff building affordable housing partnerships with other community leaders of late.
On July 7, staff representing the city of Lake Wales, Lake Wales CRA, Keystone Challenge Fund, Polk County and Center State/South State Bank celebrated the groundbreaking of four renovated homes near the corner of B Street and Washington Avenue.
CenterState Bank contributed $60,000 to help four families with $15,000 down payment assistance each. The city of Lake Wales owned four residential lots and paid to renovate the four houses on those lots.
Keystone Challenge Fund staff work with eligible families and ensure that said families can afford to maintain the home. Polk County staff help by working to obtain funding for affordable housing projects.
Lake Wales CRA Coordinator Darrell Starling said building partnerships was the key to a successful affordable housing program.
“Because CenterState was able to make that $60,000 down payment assistance, we were able to put more money toward renovations,” Starling said.
These four renovated homes are not the only affordable housing being built in Lake Wales.
On May 8, staff with the city and Florida Development Corporation celebrated the groundbreaking of affordable housing build in the northwest quadrant of the city.
City leaders also used CRA dollars to rehabilitate some senior housing.
The Lake Wales CRA Legacy Housing Rehabilitation Program is designed to pay respect to the seniors living in the Northwest Neighborhood by doing exterior improvements to their homes. These improvements include repairs or replacements of the roof and painting the outside of the home. In addition to the improvements, each home received a raised planter to grow herbs or flowers. The planters were made by students in the FAA chapter of the Roosevelt Academy Agriculture Program.