Mixed opinions surrounding historic Lake City building

LAKE CITY, Fla., (WCJB) --- Reconstruction of the Hotel Blanche in Lake City is slowly making progress.

The owner of Hotel Blanche in Lake City says construction will be completed by the end of the summer. Since its no longer a hotel they are simply calling it "The Blanche." And while some are awaiting the finishing touches, some remain opposed to the taxpayer's dollars spent on the project.

"Good or bad it will affect everything we do from here on out," said Sandra Smith.

Smith says she's lived in Lake City for decades and that she wants downtown's historic infrastructure to stay in place.

"I'm always for historic preservation over destruction and I'm always for bringing people back into the downtown and having a walkable city," said Smith.

However, tax dollars are the reason lake city resident Glenel Bowden's stance on the project hasn't changed.

"The city put a million dollars of taxpayers money into with no guarantee of what the outcome would be, so I was opposed to it initially and I'm still opposed to it," said Bowden.

Its been over a year since construction at Hotel Blanche began, leaving many wondering when will its doors open.

"We're making good progress, we should be opening up in the August- September range and we probably open it up in sections," said Rhett Holmes, owner of The Blanche

The historic building will offer residential, retail, and office space. Holmes says one-bedroom will start at $995 and that the price of a two-bedroom can go up to $2500.

"If there's a market here for that I would be absolutely surprised," said Bowden.

"I don't know anyone that can afford it," said Smith.

With costs being a factor, Bowden said he'd rather see taxpayers money be used differently.

"I'd rather see a lot more money put into infrastructure and on job attraction, this doesn't attract jobs, it may increase the tax space, but we need better quality jobs," said Bowden.

Owner Rhett Holmes says that the apartments are currently 50% pre-leased and that The Blanche will have a historic yet modern vibe to promote the growth of downtown Lake City.