Lakeland offers money to residents, newcomers for Midtown revitalization

- There are not many times in life when someone will offer you free money, with no strings attached. This is one of those times.

The City of Lakeland is essentially giving money away in an effort to revitalize an area called Midtown. It's north of George Jenkins Blvd., and south of I-4, within the city limits.

The area has seen better days according to many of the residents there, including Nicola Brown.

"Most people are on Section 8 and stuff like that, low income housing," Brown told FOX 13 News.

In an effort to help neighborhoods there, the Midtown Community redevelopment Area (CRA), is making a deal that hopefully many people will not be able to refuse. It is offering homeowners a $5,000 grant to upgrade their homes.

To attract new homeowners, it is offering them a down payment of up to 20-percent to buy a house.

"We really want people to move into these neighborhoods so you have eyes on the streets. You have pride of ownership in there," said city spokesman Kevin Cook.

"I think it's a good idea," said Riley Pitts, a resident. "I think it will revitalize the area."

Revitalization would hopefully attract new businesses there, which would mean more tax dolllars in the city's coffers. A portion of that money could be reinvested back into the area which would hopefully fuel even more success.

City commssioners, including Phillip Waler, have high hopes.

"I want to make sure it develops into what we all want, and that's have a good quality of life," Walker said.

For more information about the Midtown CRA program, call City Hall at (863) 834-6011 during business hours.

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