BARTOW – On July 1, the Bartow City Commission passed an ordinance that will allow investors to expand Bear Creek Apartments, near the corner of U.S. 17 and State Road 60.

Zoning of the property was changed from medium density to high density.

Bartow Management Inc. President Paul Giovannetti, the developer, told commissioners that the apartment complex will be completely rebuilt. Giovannetti said Bear Creek Apartments were originally built in 1975.

“The property couldn't last many more years and take in the health and safety of those living there,” Giovannetti said.

It is unknown what the new apartments will look like, as a site plan has yet to be submitted to city staff.

In addition to changing the zoning of the property, the city also sold an additional 2.9 acres of land to expand the apartment complex. The development is currently 4.2 acres.

Bartow Planning Director Bob Weigers recently said that the zoning change will allow for up to 143 rental units. Bear Creek Apartments currently has 48 rental units.

Rent in these units may also end up going up.

“The property was formerly Polk affordable housing, but right now Bartow doesn't need another affordable housing (development), so it is hard to predict,” Giovannetti said.

In other Bartow City Commission news, a budget workshop is scheduled for July 22 at 1 p.m. inside city hall.

“I'd like to schedule a work session to answer any questions you have,” Bartow City Manager George Long told commissioners.

Long said he'd like to get the proposed millage rate done by Aug. 1, which he said has been the case every year he's been in Bartow.

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