Motorists should expect detours for a few more weeks near downtown in Plant City.
But it will be worth the aggravation.
Once the work wraps up in mid-October, the confusing and potentially dangerous intersection in front of the shuttered Sweetbay Supermarket will be eliminated. And a nice city park will be taking shape.
Barricades are up on Wheeler and Evers streets as work continues on improving the 85-acre Midtown area south of downtown. Short stretches of the roads are closed or open to local traffic as part of a $1.6 million contract.
It’s among the first steps toward redeveloping Midtown, which has been years in the planning.
“I’m happy to see some progress being made,” City Manager Greg Horwedel said.
The actual redevelopment is at least months away – the city doesn’t yet have a developer who has agreed to take on the project. The current phase will improve transportation and create a park that will be a centerpiece of Midtown.
Most of the current work involves improving drainage, including installing large underground pipes and creating two ponds. Much of the work is near the shuttered Sweetbay at 507 S. Wheeler St.
Heavy summer rains have slowed progress, but work should be compete by mid-October, City Engineer Brett Gocka said.
The contractor, OGS Development Inc., started work in June. The project includes the realignment of Wheeler Street, reconstruction of Refro Street and extension of Alabama and Warren streets, among other work that will create a new city block. The reconstructed roads will eliminate a confusing intersection in front of Sweetbay, and part of the work is taking place in the former supermarket parking lot.
The new park and rebuilt roads are part of the proposed redevelopment of Midtown, an area that’s mostly commercial. The city will advertise this fall for a developer interested in building homes and shops in the area.
The city has bought a total of 14 acres in Midtown that it plans to sell to a developer. The city hopes the new homes and shops will spark redevelopment, much as downtown was redeveloped starting in the mid-1990s.
Midtown is roughly bounded by historic downtown on the north, Alsobrook and Merrick streets on the south, Thomas and Walker streets on the west and the north-south CSX railroad tracks running parallel and east of Collins Street on the east.