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Roundup 6-22-2012

June 22, 2012

The Port – How Not To Build Up Business

One thing we have consistently said is that the Port of Tampa needs to work to expand its market beyond the Central Florida core.  The Port Director, who recently announced his retirement, maintained that business at the port was contingent on the Central Florida economy.

Well, it was recently reported that the Disney Corporation, which apparently imported its souvenirs through the Port of Charleston, will be moving that business to Florida. Is that business coming to the port that is a mere 60 miles from Disney? No, it is going to Jacksonville.  (The Governor was there for the announcement). Well done, Tampa.

In related news, the Port Board has announced they are going to take their time finding a successor to the present Director.

“We are going to do a national search,” board member and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said. “Let’s dispel any theory that we have predetermined (this).”

* * *

Murman wants Wainio to prepare a report on potential collaboration with port interests in Manatee and Pinellas counties, the latter of which is under discussion to handle larger cruise ships than can sail beneath the Sunshine Skyway to Tampa’s port.

Take your time.  It is an important decision.  You also may want to consider why the Port can’t even protect its local market.

TIA – More Cuba

In complete contrast (actually there is an analogy to a few years ago, but thankfully that time has passed), it was announced that the flights from Tampa to Havana are going very well, and will be expanded with one more weekly flight.


“Only Tampa and Fort Lauderdale have been successful in starting and maintaining new Cuba charter flights,” Hauf said, referring to the January 2011 Obama administration policy to expand the number of airports permitted to have flights to and from Cuba.

It makes sense.  There was clearly demand that was ignored previously. (Yes, there was a regulation in place, but the past administration was not working to get it changed or to motivate anyone else to work to get it changed)  Thankfully, the present Director at TIA understands how to work to tap markets rather than ignore them and pretend all is well.  He knows that complacency kills.

Orlando – still exploiting our past mistakes

In a further example of how complacency kills,

Orlando International Airport officials are in discussions for a Miami rail connection that would create the state’s first airport gateway to serve long-distance rail.

Florida East Coast Industries wants to develop the first passenger rail service between Orlando International and Miami by 2015. It would add 40 miles of track to link Orlando to the company’s 200 miles of rail in place along Florida’s east coast.

In time, the line could be extended to a destination in Tampa, officials with the privately owned rail company have said.

“The addition of rail, which has always been viewed as significant, will make Orlando International Airport truly an intermodal gateway,” said Phil Brown, the airport’s executive director.

Orlando is still working to become the airport hub of Florida.  The previous TIA Director, as well as previous Mayor, planners and a host of other leaders of Tampa gave up the idea of putting regular high speed rail service into TIA.  (Then they messed up local rail.) They surrendered to Orlando without a fight, just as the port apparently gave up Disney business and just as HART has given up on local rail.  Now, Tampa Bay has neither intercity nor local rail.

Orlando, on the other hand, has not given up its plan.  Just like with Sunrail, high speed rail did not work at first but they keep pushing.  They have a vision and a plan.  Will Tampa Bay ever learn from its past?

Riverwalk Money

We congratulate the Mayor of Tampa for lobbying enough to get $11 million to finish the Riverwalk, including the section under the Kennedy bridge which will look like this:

From the Tampa Bay Times – click on picture for article

and leave pedestrians completely unattached to downtown.  We are actually very happy the Riverwalk will be built.  We have always thought it was a nice idea, even if we did not like some of the design (like the part in the picture).  What we do not think is that it is in any way a game changer for downtown.

This is what the Mayor had to say:

The grant will create 200 temporary construction jobs and be a catalyst for private investment along the river, the mayor said.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” he said. “This is the beginning of that next chapter.”

Well, today is the next day of the rest of your life, but as we have pointed out before, it is not clear that the Riverwalk itself will really spur any investment.  Moreover, the Mayor has never really explained why or how it should spur any more investment.  The entire city (except Tampa Heights, which is essentially empty along the river) is built to not address the riverfront.  There is already a riverfront sidewalk from Tampa Heights to the Straz Center – so what it the big deal other than some aesthetics there? Where is the rush of development there? There are precious few pedestrian friendly projects planned for Tampa. (This is a prime example of one that is not urban and not rented and its suburban floor plan)  What is the detailed plan for the Riverwalk?  And how does “Kiley Gardens,” which is basically cut off by the Riverwalk sticking out into the river, fit into the plan?

Of course, instead of doing everything piecemeal and without integration, the City could make the code urban, especially downtown.  Then again, why do that when you can just talk about it while acting like design has not progressed since the 198o’s.

Channelside Live, We Love You, But . . .

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of talk about Channelside redevelopment, including a proposal by the Lightning’s owner. We had not really heard anything about actual plans until this article, which said the plans are in some as yet undetermined way similar to LA Live, in Los Angeles.  This is what the Mayor had to say:

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who sits on the board, said, “I’m perfectly happy with Jeff Vinik as the last man standing. He already has skin in the game … . It makes sense to create some critical mass there and have some cross marketing that creates a pedestrian-friendly, retail, event-driven complex from the convention center to Channelside. I think that is the best path to success.”

We have not seen final plans, so things can always be fine tuned.  We just thought you might like to see how “pedestrian friendly” LA Live is. See hereherehere.

We are completely behind the idea of a mixed use/entertainment area.  We are also completely fine with the Lightning owner, who we think has done an admirable job.  But in this kind of project, the devil is in the details.  We are not ok is if Tampa gets more desolate streetscapes, like a number of the pictures of LA linked above.

It is the City’s job to make sure it doesn’t.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 22, 2012 3:27 PM

    I am still trying to figure out how a river walk ever encourages any investment. It might be a nice place to jog or have a festival. It’s a nice additional paragraph and photo in our travel magazines, but other than that we’re just spending money for a “silver lining” along our riverfront. The ROI on these projects is rarely tangible.

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