April 18, 2024

Back to the Drawing Board: Lee School Could See New Development Plans…Again

1.9 min read| Published On: April 18th, 2024|

By Cindy Peterson

Back to the Drawing Board: Lee School Could See New Development Plans…Again

1.9 min read| Published On: April 18th, 2024|

Development on the Lee School in Leesburg is taking a step back to reassess its plans after encountering various challenges. Over the years, the fate of the school has wavered, with the original intent to save the historic building by renovating it. However, the project has faced hurdles related to the condition of the buildings on the property, so ultimately it was decided that tearing down the historic school was the best option for development. Then concerns regarding parking set back another proposed development.

“The old historic buildings are in disrepair,” City Manager Al Minner says. “And the historic board did give a conditional demolition order for those buildings tied to development. But you know, for various different reasons, development hasn’t occurred. We started with Covid. Then we kind of had some inflationary issues and Mr. Mansfield has been chomping at the bit. As we got into the iterations of some redesigns, the commission didn’t approve the PUD because of parking concerns. So Mr. Mansfield is kind of going back to the blackboard a little bit.”

In response to these challenges, developer Barry Mansfield of Cullison-Wright Construction presented a revised concept during a February meeting with the city commission. The concept now focuses on upscale apartment complexes, inspired by a downtown Ocala project, designed to meet the evolving demands of the housing market and give a boost to downtown Leesburg foot traffic.

Barry told the commission that his idea was to mirror the recently completed apartments in Ocala, as the land is the same size. The four-story apartments would feature urban living spaces tailored to professionals and individuals seeking contemporary amenities and convenient access to downtown amenities. The complex would offer a total of 104 apartment units, featuring one and two-bedrooms, with a handful of three-bedroom configurations.

Parking would allow for 1.5 spaces per unit, an industry standard. The commission saw no problem with that, but Al Minner also reiterated that this was just for concept purposes and that all logistics would be handled in the future processes.

Residents of the apartments will have access to a range of on-site amenities that may include a clubhouse, a fitness center and outdoor recreational areas. Furthermore, the proposed apartment complex will be located within close proximity to downtown Leesburg, offering residents convenient access to a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

The project concept will undergo further review and modification to address any concerns raised, including going before city planning and zoning authorities and the historic board. It will then go back to the city commission for final approval.

The commissioners agreed that they liked the direction of this project and Barry expressed a commitment to working closely with the city to ensure the successful revitalization of the area.


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About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography, and video editing. She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and produces Style Magazine's Sports Hub Podcast and the Healthy Living Podcast. She also produces for Beacon College’s Telly Award-winning PBS show, “A World of Difference.” When she isn’t working, Cindy loves traveling the National Parks with her husband , Ryan, and son, David, photographing wildlife.

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