A new community for Tampa-area Seminoles is about to open its doors.
“They always say good things come to those who wait. Well, today, you waited long enough,” said Brighton Councilman Larry Howard.
His comments are from a brief video prepared for tribal members to showcase the Seminole Tribe’s new Lakeland development, which is scheduled to welcome its first residents soon, perhaps as early as January.
More than a decade ago, the tribe purchased nearly 900 undeveloped acres in unincorporated Polk County with an eye toward providing a new reservation for tribal members who had lived on the land that’s now home to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.
“It was promised by leaders before me that we would buy land and bring the people back to our reservation,” Councilman Howard said.
The new development will feature about 150 single-family homes on one- acre lots. The video says the land “boasts a country feel with abundant water features, trees and other vegetation.” Councilman Howard described the land as “…one of most beautiful properties ever to be acquired by the Seminole Tribe.”
Some homes have been completed from phase one of the project.
“These are brand new homes, so they’ll be the first ones to step inside,” Tampa Reservation Administrator Richard Henry said in the video. “We’re hoping they’re excited like we are. For some of these people it’s their first purchase, too, so it’s very exciting for first-time homeowners.”
Councilman Howard said it’s important that the residents will be able to “look across the street to a neighbor who is a Native American.”
After living apart for years in non-tribal areas, the Tampa-area Seminoles will be able to reunite on one reservation again.
“The land that you walk on here is going to be your property, your reservation,” Councilman Howard said. “Memories to come for years down the road; you’re going to create those memories on your journey from this point on. Our dream has become your reality.”