Encourage adaptive reuse of underutilized and vacant structures while assuring the preservation and rehabilitation of historically significant buildings such as the Blanche Hotel.

Redevelopment of Blanche Hotel

  • Encourage Adaptive Reuse and Historic Preservation on of the Blanche hotel
  • Work with area institutions to introduce educational opportunities as part of the building’s redevelopment program (Shands Lake Shore Hospital, School Board, UF, Florida Gateway College)
  • Potential Future Opportunities -- Downtown Arts Institute/Nursing Program/Student Housing

During the public involvement process, the residents discussed key assets that were perceived as elements crucial to the successful revitalization of the Lake City CRA. The CRA Master Plan’s objective is to leverage all of the area’s existing assets in preparing for a changing economy and embarking on a transformative process. The following matrix highlights “Catalyst Projects” for improvement that connects the identified assets with the overall vision along with the next steps needed to materialize these projects.

The presence of historic structures such as the Blanche Hotel and recent streetscape improvements along Marion Avenue have been instrumental in reinforcing the charm and character of the downtown; therefore the style and placement of future buildings should be consistent with this established form. The City recently completed construction of streetscape improvements for a section of Marion Avenue between Duval Street and Railroad Street. While these improvements have contributed significantly in enhancing the pedestrian environment in downtown, the City has not experienced the anticipated private sector investment. 

Redevelopment of the Blanche Hotel has been identified as one of the key private sector driven projects in the Downtown and presents an opportunity to create an extremely desirable destination use that will support historic preservation, education and local economic development efforts. It is recommended that the Agency continue to work with the existing property owners to devise an appropriate development program for the adaptive reuse of site and a phasing plan for implementation. In order to facilitate the redevelopment, the Agency should consider assembling adjacent properties, using conventional financing and amortized payments, as an incentive for the developer to pursue the project. Potential future uses of the Blanche Hotel could include the following anchors in a mixed-use residential configuration:

  • Boutique hotel
  • Arts Institute
  • Arts Incubator Space
  • Vocational Training Center

Continue to work with owners of the Blanche Hotel to attract developers that are interested in the adaptive reuse of the historic property, but also as a regional employer and a large contributor of ad valorem taxes.

Generally, this is the single most important source in revitalization, if successful revitalization is to occur, private investment usually must exceed public funding by three to four fold. Such funding takes the form of equity investment and conventional real estate loans.

The present site of the Hotel Blanche is host to an event that no doubt shows the commitment to chivalry and gentlemanly conduct by soldiers of the past. It seems that prior to the battle, Union forces rode into town to take up food and drink and some of the amenities that Hotel Blanche offered. Abiding by the rules of the house and in the interest of keeping the peace, Union soldiers pyramided their rifles together outside the hotel. Local Confederate sympathizers rode to inform rebel troops of the activity: In the truest spirit of revelry, Confederate troops rode into the city, took the pyramided rifles and threw them into Lake DeSoto: It was not until five years ago during the dredging of the lake, that these rifles were recovered and the story verified. 

Blanche – Razing the building should be out of the question. Come up with a plan of reuse of that building. Look at grants. Who’s the end-user? Where is the money coming from? How sustainable is it? What is the structural condition of The Blanche?

Hospital will become Lakeshore Regional Medical Center ° Currently in process of negotiating for Medical Office (July 1, 2010)

Lake City’s rich history, its importance as the County seat, and significance as Florida’s gateway community provides a substantial foundation when developing recommendations for future development character in the downtown. The Agency should work with the City to develop a comprehensive preservation plan and include detailed guidelines as part of the Urban Design and Architectural Manual. Lake City embarked upon its sesquicentennial celebrations in January 2009. A key element of the Lake City Community Redevelopment Area Master Plan (inclusive of the Downtown) is to maintain a connection to the past and provide historic continuity for future development. While social connection to the past can be accommodated through museums and other learning activities, physical connectivity is accomplished through the preservation of historic resources and the continuance of established architectural form. The Plan supports efforts to promote Lake City’s heritage by preserving its historic landmarks and architecturally significant structures such as the Blanche Hotel while ensuring future development maintains historic connection with the established urban form. The Lake Isabella Historic Residential District has submitted an application for designation on the Nation Register of Historic Places, and identifies over hundred 100 contributing structures in the district (a portion of which falls within the expanded Downtown CRA District). The adaptive reuse of the Blanche Hotel is a prime example of a structure that needs to be preserved working in close collaboration with the private owners and various area-wide institutions. Recommendations: • Conduct a detailed assessment and develop appropriate criteria to create a list of contributing structures that meet minimum eligibility requirements as determined by the Florida Division of Historical Resources or the National Register of Historic Places. • Continue working with the owners of Blanche Hotel, area institutions, and local banks to develop a strategy for redeveloping the property while preserving its architectural integrity. • Provide incentives to encourage future development in the downtown redevelopment area to be consistent with the existing architectural character for development taking place in the designated Historic Preservation District. • Continue with the implementation of the Lake City Facade Grant Program to provide design assistance and financial incentives to encourage building renovation that provides continuity