New images have been unveiled of international design firm Sasaki’s proposal for transforming a 180-acre, post-industrial site in Lakeland, Florida into a privately funded park with aims of becoming “one of the greatest urban landscapes in the country,” according to the firm. Billed as a future “Central Park” for Lakeland, Bonnet Springs Park will begin with a comprehensive remediation process to heal the damaged and contaminated landscape. Spearheaded by Lakeland realtor David Bunch and his wife Jean with the backing of philanthropists Barney and Carol Barnett, the sprawling park will be a vibrant new destination for residents. It is slated for completion by 2020.

rendering of wood walkway between huge oak trees

Located near downtown Lakeland, the land for Bonnet Springs Park is currently underutilized and has accumulated tons of trash. More than 80 acres of land are contaminated with arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons. With the help of a 20-person advisory committee that has helped remove 37 tons of trash from the site, the 180-acre landscape is now entering its environmental remediation phase, which includes stockpiling contaminated materials into safely capped hills, constructing wetlands for filtering pollutants and creating stormwater management strategies.

rendering of white and glass buildings with draping green roofs

rendering of green space with flowers and butterflies

Although the park is privately funded, hundreds of Lakeland community members have been invited to add their feedback and input on the design. Sasaki’s masterplan includes heritage gardens, a canopy walk, a welcome center, nature center, event lawn, walking and biking trails, non-motorized boating activities and a sculpture garden. The new buildings in the park will be designed to harmonize with the landscape, with some of them partially buried into the terrain. A plan will also be put in place to ensure the economic sustainability and continued maintenance of Bonnet Springs Park.

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rendering of people boating on water surrounded by trees

rendering of people walking on wood walkway near wetlands

“Bonnet Springs Park, from a planning and design perspective, presents a rare opportunity to transform a significantly challenged urban plot of land in an effort to improve Central Florida’s quality of life for generations to come,” noted the architecture firm. “Sasaki’s designs will improve the site’s ecological health, foster unique harmonious architectural design and set the park up for self-sustaining, economic success.”

+ Sasaki

rendering of adults and children looking at water and plants