The city of Lake Wales is determined to revitalize a once thriving Northwest community, and revamping old businesses is at the top of the list.

Lake Wales is working to bring a once vibrant neighborhood back to life

The city is partnering with a funding agency to provide business owners with capital

More news from Polk County

“These buildings have been here for generations and generations,” explained Sara Jones with the Lincoln Community Development Agency. “Some of what happened is, the older generations who purchased or refurbished the buildings kept them up really well, and maybe the next generation didn’t. So, now we have a third generation of owners who don’t have the money to fix up the building or have the support.”

That’s where Darrell Starling, Lake Wales’ community development leader, comes in. He is working not only to help closed businesses reopen, but he’s also partnering with Jones to set up monthly community markets to boost the neighborhood’s morale.  

“Redevelopment takes time, and these initiatives help spark excitement,” Starling said.

He told Spectrum Bay News 9 that he and his team have been working underground on the mission but have just recently started breaking ground.

“We have several new affordable houses that will be built in the area,” Starling said. “Also, this boarded up building will open its doors as a restaurant in August.”

Revitalization, energy and what’s next for this community is the focal point for Starling, who says the city has partnered with a financing program to help with the redevelopment. 

“Sometimes business owners don’t have the capital to really renovate their businesses, that’s why I think the city would be an integral part in helping these businesses reinvent their business,” said Starling. “We’re partnering some of our business owners with the PACE program, and that’s designed to give them a low interest loan.”

The Lincoln Community Development Agency is currently planning a Juneteenth celebration for the community. If you are interested in learning more, attend the city market at 315 Lincoln Ave. on Saturday the 8th.

If you currently own property in this Lake Wales Community and would like to check your PACE eligibility for refurbishing assistance, email  

For more on how you can get involved in the revitalization project contact