The movers behind Catapult 2.0 thought their project to transform a historic building on Lake Mirror was on its way to quick approval after it received a positive review from the city of Lakeland’s historic planner. But they learned today they’ll need to wait at least four weeks for a green light after the citizen board that approves changes to historic buildings asked for some fine-tuning.

The city’s Design Review Committee, made up of both architects and laypeople, voted to give conceptual approval to the structure design for the project to turn the vacant Cash Feed building into a $10 million center for entrepreneurs, commercial food makers and craftsmen.

Conceptual approval gives the architects working on the project a chance to make adjustments that address the committee’s concerns and submit them for final approval at a later meeting.

Steve Scruggs, president of Lakeland Economic Development Council, which sponsors the Catapult Lakeland small business incubator, is pushing “to work out details” in time for the committee’s June 23 meeting. To wait any longer would jeopardize the project, he told committee members.

Most of the questions raised at the meeting involved a dramatic, three-story glass-and-metal entry proposed for the front center of the stucco building.

Brad Lunz, one of three architects working on the project (they’re all from different firms), alleviated one of the concerns for some board members when he explained why the entry is angled slightly rather than parallel to the front of the building.

An artist’s rendering shows the view from the southwest |
A recent photo shows the projection added around 1050 after the original projection was removed.
A recent photo shows the front projection added around 1950 after the original was removed. |
Built in 1924, the structure featured a three-story entrance with a Mission-style roofline. |
The original entrance fronted Main Street. |

Showing an aerial view of the building in its early days, he noted that the entrance faced the shore of Lake Mirror, which had no sidewalk at the time. Now that the Frances Langford Promenade is a prominent civic feature, the new entry is angled to face it, he said.

Lunz is a member of the Design Review Committee and chairman of the city’s Historic Review Board. He recused himself on the Catapult issue, saying that meant he could participate in the discussion but not vote.

Committee member John White, an architect and active member of Historic Lakeland Inc., raised several questions about the project.

He initially presented a list of 10 objections, but discussion whittled the list to a few key issues, including:

  • Some of the lines in the entry structure don’t match horizontal lines in the existing building. “Only a few parts of the addition align with the existing, and some miss by as much as three feet: roof height, window header and sill, mullions, etc.”
  • The angled entry roof, White says, doesn’t relate to the existing architecture. Project architect Mike Murphey attributed the slope to practical concerns, including rain diversion. White suggested that the slope might be altered to emulate a catapult, in keeping with the organization’s name.
  • The rounded walls of the outdoor patio also don’t refer to the existing architecture, White said. Then he wondered aloud if it was meant to echo the promenade across the street, which Murphey agreed was the point, and White suggested a non-solid wall would enhance the connection.

A slide presentation showing glass and metal additions to several historic buildings seemed to blunt concerns about the general materials planned for the entryway. White said he is fine with the glass and understands that the metal on the west side of the entry is needed to “capture” the elevator and stairs.

Elevation drawings, above, show the proposed front and back of the Catapult building. |

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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