Lakeland man to renovate historic downtown building into apartments

By Rick Elmhorst, Spectrum Bay News 9 reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, February 10, 2018, 9:24 AM EST

An 83-year-old Lakeland man is finally making his dream come true for a historic building.

  • Fred Lohr to turn historic downtown building in apartments
  • Lohr bought the building in 1967 to turn into a modern showcase
  • Business downtown wasn't doing well back then
  • Lohr said now is the perfect time to invest in the building

Fred Lohr plans on turning the building into loft-style apartments.

Lohr purchased the two-story building, built in 1915, with about 18-thousand square feet on Main Street back in 1967 as a young man.

He wanted to turn it into a modern showcase but then downtown Lakeland took a downturn as outlying shopping centers sucked business away from the area.

Lohr said he had many potential tenants back then but they changed their minds.

“But coming down and they saw the condition of the downtown that just killed the project,” Lohr said. 

Lohr turned his energy to other things and largely used the building for storage. Over the years it fell into disrepair. But now, Lohr has workers cleaning out dumpster after dumpster of old junk.

Lohr is really excited about the potential for the building. He believes its historic feel will be attractive to potential residents. That includes leaving brick walls exposed and the wood rafters as well.

"We are going to leave that exposed," he said. "That is the modern way of doing apartments and so forth."

Lohr said he believes there are so many new businesses and restaurants moving into downtown that he finally feels good about investing in the old building.

"This is the perfect time now," he said.

Lohr said that even at the age of 83 he has plenty of energy and enthusiasm for the project.