Demolition of the old Lakeland Factory Outlet Mall began Wednesday, and Lakeland’s leaders couldn’t be more happy to see tangible progress at the site, just off Interstate-40 and Canada Road. Removing the derelict structures will clear the way for the $375 million Lake District development. Full demolition and site clearing are expected to take about a year before construction can start on the planned 160+ acres of mixed-use development. Although the project had a recent financial stall, developer Yehuda Netanel of Gilad Development Corporation said it’s completely on track. From left are Netanel, Lakeland City Manager Jim Atkinson, Gilad Director of Development Maggie Gallagher and Lakeland Vice Mayor Josh Roman. Photo by Carolyn Bahm.