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Roundup 10-13-2017

October 13, 2017


Transportation – Latest and Greatest

— TB(n)X

— Pick ‘Em

— Curmudgeonly Truth

Port – Better

Airport – Some Items

Economic Development – What We Like

Economic Development – VC Watch

— One More Thing

Channel District – Tweak

Hyde Park – Altis

Rays – Indeed

Temple Terrace – Oh Well


Transportation – Latest and Greatest

What would a week be without transportation news?

— TB(n)X

And what would transportation news be without a little TB(n)X?

The state’s revamped proposal to expand interstates in Hillsborough County got one of its first public vettings on Monday.

* * *

Attendees were greeted by a four-minute video explaining the federal study and the area it covers: from the Tampa side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, east along I-275, then north to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; and I-4 east from downtown Tampa toward 50th Street.

That’s not exactly all the interstates in Hillsborough County, but it is what it is.  (There are other meetings about the rest which, it must be said, gets kind of confusing.)  In any event,

The original plan for Tampa Bay’s express lanes came from a 1996 study. The federal study, as part Tampa Bay Next, aims to update that 20-year-old document so it more closely matches the desires of the community. Tampa residents, especially those in historic neighborhoods downtown, spent the past two years protesting the express toll lanes.

The DOT will hold another public workshop in 2018 before the final public hearing in 2019. That gives community members, business leaders and politicians about a year and a half to weigh in.

Setting aside that it does not seem to be too many meetings or public input and that we thought “business leaders” were community members, the expansion plan of the interstate came from the 90’s (see here) and the express lane idea at that time was two free local lanes and two express lanes, which from all indications were to be free (especially since, in most cases, putting new tolls on free interstates is a no-no, though it is unclear if FDOT was doing some kind of auxiliary lane magic at the time), plus an HOV lane (see starting pg 161). The most recent FDOT plan includes express lanes (no HOV) which were variable rate toll express toll lanes (whether they are still toll lanes has been the subject of some obfuscation, but until it is clear announced they are not, we are going to assume they are variable rate toll lanes, especially given that FDOT labelled them on its Howard Frankland diagram with its variable rate express lane logo) came later.

And an aside here: just because someone in the 90s said ok does not mean it is the best thing for the area now.  There were a lot of bad decisions made in the 1990s around here. And the 90s plan is a bit odd: for instance, on pg 153, where north of King the interstate is two-lanes in each direction, on pg 154 where it appears to say that the exit at I-4 and 21st and 22nd streets should be removed and a new exit at 14th and 15th streets.  Or a two lane I-4 east of 50th.  In fact, in many cases the 1990’s plans have been rendered out of date by facts. Yes, they can be changed (which is what the process is about), but being from the 90’s is irrelevant. (And the utility of variable rate tolls added later is very questionable.)

Another aside: you can see on pg. 136 of this pdf regarding the interstate project from the 1990’s , rail was studied and planned for in the 1980’s but that hasn’t happened yet.  If the logic is based on age, rail should be built before anything is done to the interstate. And note on pg 137, FDOT and the Hillsborough County coordinated studies and still nothing but more studies followed.)

But, anyway, back to the present:

The Florida Department of Transportation wants to eliminate some local highway improvement concepts from consideration, including a “do nothing” approach, a big-city style beltway and a boulevard concept that would bring the highway down to street level.

Engineers and managers from FDOT were on hand at the Tampa Marriott Westshore on Monday night to showcase the Tampa Bay Next project and answer questions about the agency’s progress.

The agency noted in visuals that the boulevard and beltway concepts would not sufficiently reduce traffic congestion, improve travel times or increase freight mobility. Concepts could be reconsidered based on public input, according to Ed McKinney, FDOT’s District 7 planning and environmental administrator.

Still under consideration are concepts that expand portions of the highway through the downtown Tampa interchange, Westshore and Interstate 4. Some include toll lanes and a dedicated transit corridor.

* * *

Another boulevard concept running north to south north of the downtown interchange is still being considered.

It is difficult to know exactly what FDOT means until after the meetings because they still don’t post the information on-line before their meetings.  However, they did post them online afterward (See background presentation here and revised plans/options here) and you can see the dropped options, sort of, in the presentation pdf. We understand the meaning of “do-nothing” approach – we see it all the time on transit. On page 28, it appears that FDOT is killing an east-west road in the north to connect  the Veterans/Suncoast with I-75 as part of killing an extremely large beltway for which basically no one is asking. (The beltway under consideration went east-west on the Pasco-Hernando county line then head south around Plant City on to Ft. Myers.) That should not foreclose the east-west road that we have needed for decades.

Additionally, the pdf does not actually say what boulevard concept they are killing (see pgs 26-27), but, because the boulevard concept north of downtown which we discussed a while back (see “Transportation – On the Boulevard“) seems to still be alive, we assume it is referring to a boulevard replacing I-275 from downtown to Westshore.  (It should be noted that the north of the interchange boulevard concept, as presented by the planner proposing it, relied in part on the, for lack of a better term, traditional east-west road in the north that FDOT seems to be killing, in addition to a number of other things and compromise decisions, to make any sense.)

Before looking at a few specific proposals from the study area, let’s briefly look at some other items in the presentation pdf. Starting on page 34, you’ll see the contemplated options for I-275 north of the interchange. On page 36, you see the plan to put two express lanes in each direction on I-4.  There is no indication if they are tolled or not, but we have heard nothing to make us think they are not.  Page 37 shows express lanes on all of I-75 through Hillsborough and indicates they are tolled.  And on page 43, you see the interim plan to add a third lane but not really fix the bottleneck (see more below).

Now let’s look at the pdf of SEIS options.  It is a large file with large drawings that are best just viewed independently.  However, we did pull out two zoomed shots of things we would like to highlight.

From FDOT – click on picture for pdf

First, there is the proposed “full” fix of the bottleneck, pg 3 of the pdf. The yellow lanes are free lanes.  The green are express lanes.

The first thing to note is that (re)connecting the grid under the interstate is good.

Now to the meat of the issue. As you can see from the diagram, FDOT’s proposal is to have two express lanes in each direction through the bottleneck.  Once again, there is some ambiguity about whether they are tolled and whether they are variable rate, but until we hear clearly they won’t be, we assume they are both.  In addition, there are three free lanes through the bottleneck.  Of course, there are four free lanes on the bridge now and in the newest proposal.

Even more interestingly, the three northbound lanes are a completely new build and the overpass/underpass at Reo appears to be a diverging diamond, which is also a new build. So, with all the new building, why does the plan only have three free lanes through the bottleneck?  Isn’t that still a bottleneck?  Sure, you can pay to go through the express lanes at its highest price because of congestion, but why aren’t there four free lanes through the bottleneck?  FDOT is planning to spend billions of dollars and they can’t fix that? And, even more interesting, why is that ok with local officials? (BTW, except around Roosevelt where it goes down to 3 lanes for one overpass, the Pinellas side has four lanes for quite a while. )  If you are fixing it, do it right.

Our other zoom shot is of the rebuild proposal of the interchange, specifically right around downtown, pg 8 of the pdf.

From FDOT – click on picture for pdf

The first thing you might notice is that the proposal makes the interstate more than two blocks wide.  The rebuild eats up a block south of the present interstate and part of a block north.  Given that, the access to the interstate in the east of downtown is changed.  Moreover, the gap between the Tampa Heights area and downtown is more than doubled, which is an odd urban redevelopment strategy, especially as the Franklin area north of the interstate is just starting to take off.

The next thing you may notice is the “transit platform” in the middle of all that.  We are all for real transit, but we are not particularly fond of station in the middle of interstates, especially such large ones.  That does not encourage people to either use transit or walk to their destination.  Speaking of walking, the transit platform is quite far from the core of downtown and lacks a connection.  The only way it would make any sense is if the streetcar were connected north and south of the platform to circulate people through downtown (with a common ticketing platform).  Of course, that is part of a third study (in addition to the SEIS and the transit study).

Given that the no-build is off the table, we know that the picture is one of two general options: either rebuild the intersection or add express lanes (tolled or not? Who knows?) without rebuilding which would take up more land than now but not as much as a rebuild (but it would not include a transit corridor). The fact is that neither is particularly good, but, from what we have seen so far, if we have to pick from those, we prefer the latter.

As we have long said, we want of fix the bottleneck and improve the interchange, but under these plans, the bottleneck is not fixed, at least if you are just a normal driver, and the interchange is still quite a mess, either way.  And, still, we are wondering how a road plan can be developed while transit is still an open question. The outcome of the transit decision has a direct effect on the road plan.  For instance, without the transit corridor (say transit goes somewhere else), the rebuild not have to be so wide and could be made a more palatable (though not necessarily desired) option.  We need to know one to decide on the other.  And we need to know about the streetcar.

And, of course, still alive is the original TBX concept.

Also noteworthy is some interim stuff,

It will take another several years for any of those projects to be approved, so the DOT is moving forward with a couple interim plans to ease congestion in the meantime.

One of those is a $2.9 million plan to add a fifth southbound lane to the Veterans Expressway from State Road 60 to just south of the airport. That extra lane should help with the messy, and sometimes dangerous, merging and weaving that happens in that stretch, DOT consultant Brad Flom said. Construction will begin next fall, with the lane opening in the first half of 2019.

Another interim project is a $25 million plan to add an extra lane to I-275 in each direction near the West Shore Boulevard interchange. That area is known for nightmarish backlogs where the four lanes in each direction on the Howard Frankland Bridge narrow to two. Construction on that third lane will start in 2019.

You may recall that the highway around the airport was already rebuilt, but now, apparently has to have an interim rebuild before the final rebuild.  The reality is that much of the weaving on that stretch of road is not from a lack of plans, it is from poor design including the entrance and exit ramps.  Regardless, fine.  And regular readers already know our thoughts on the bottleneck – we see no reason to do another half-measure.  Just fix it.

As we have said recently, FDOT seems to be trying, at least to some degree. But we are not sure exactly to what degree. They need much more transparency.  They have a website, so post the ideas on it before meetings and make the website more user friendly.  And the meetings are generally inconvenient for a large portion of the population (the SEIS involves roads that are of interest to the whole area not just two isolated spots).  FDOT also needs to be much more forthcoming about tolls – whether they really could go away or whether they are stuck in FDOT’s plan.  And, they need to be clear about the status of the old plan.

And one stylistic thing (that may also be substantive): FDOT still too often gives the impression it is trying to sell a plan rather than work collaboratively to come up with one.

And all that goes on top of the fact the problems of making decisions on roads when relevant decisions about transit still need to be made.

— Pick ‘Em

The Tampa/Hillsborough Expressway Authority is asking the public to weigh in on the design of the Gandy/Selmon Connector.  In an article entitled “You can have a say on one of Tampa Bay’s mega projects (w/video),” the Times tells us:

Have you ever paid close attention to the support piers of an elevated highway? Probably not, but the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority still wants your opinion on what some new ones should look like.

From now through Friday, Oct. 20, members of the public will be able to choose between two designs for the piers supporting the 1.9-mile extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway from South Dale Mabry Highway to the Gandy bridge. The winning design will be announced Oct. 23.

“We were looking for an opportunity for the public to take part, and this is one of the areas where we could control that,” Bob Frey, the authority’s planning director, said Monday.

Setting aside that we don’t really know what a “mega project” is, but we doubt an extended overpass counts as one.  Nevertheless,

The authority unveiled the pier designs Monday. The one dubbed Vivid has “vertical features that represent movement and fluidity” while the Estuary design evokes “a river delta or a canopy of cypress trees,” according to Aecom, the construction company.

Um, ok.  Actually, they are just talking about some limited decoration.  And Estuary does not evoke anything, it has images of trees (and, of course, we don’t really have river deltas around here).

From THEA – click on picture for website

You can vote here.

Here is a video on the project

We will give them credit for going straight to the internet to get input from as many people as possible, unlike FDOT and TB(n)X.  And while it probably does not matter too much, we kind of like Estuary a little bit more.  What we would like even more is if the plan accounted for all the development that is going to happen on Westshore south of Gandy.

— Curmudgeonly Truth

With all this road news, something from the Venerable Times Curmudgeon caught our eye.  First some background, following an item about how Amazon warehouses (like this one this week) or Bass Pro Shops provide validation for economic development efforts, the Business Journal had an article referencing a Forbes article by an FSU professor explaining why the Tampa Bay area should be a leading choice for Amazon HQ2.  That article basically says that Amazon should come to Florida because of the business climate and that the Tampa Bay area is the best location in Florida because it has a higher percentage of relevant workers.  Of course, in his comparisons, the author focuses on Boston and San Francisco, and talks about taxes.  He ignores Georgia, Texas, and other states that are more competitive in the “business friendly” category.

Even with all that, we thought the Times Curmudgeon had a pretty good point when discussing Amazon:

On paper at least, Florida in general and Tampa Bay in particular would seem well positioned to make successful goo-goo eyes in the general direction of Jeff Bezos, who was raised in Miami.

For starters, we have no personal income taxes. We have plenty of sun.

And Tampa Bay also meets Amazon’s basic requirements as a metro area with at least one million people, a stable business-friendly environment and a world class international airport. So far, looking good.

Well, there is that one itty-bitty, tiny, minor problem.

Amazon is requiring cities giving it that come hither look to also be able to provide access to mass transit routes. Oooooops! So close, so very close.

Let’s be painfully honest. Does anyone involved the recruitment of Amazon believe that despite all the region’s many charms, Bezos would be willing to make a $5 billion investment and bring 50,000 jobs to an area without a significant mass transit (read: buses and rail) presence?

You may have noticed — we don’t have that.

Other cities in the mix, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Charlotte, all offer rail as part of their transit grid. And since you can’t build these things overnight, it is more than probable Tampa Bay will get a nice pat on the head and a heartfelt thanks for its interest.

And followed it up with a very pithy summary of decades of local history:

The Amazon exercise is a reminder once again that there is a price to be paid for decades of parochial myopia when it comes to the region’s transportation needs.

A salient point.  Too bad so many local officials apparently continue to not care.

Port – Better

There was news about the Port this week.

Port Tampa Bay posted its biggest operating revenues ever this year — $55.4 million — beating its previous record from two years ago.

The total reflects revenue solely generated by port operations, not property tax revenue or grants, officials said.

Which is good.

The figure represents a 12.6 percent increase over the $49.2 million recorded in FY 2016 and surpasses the previous high of $51.3 million in FY 2015.

The port has benefitted from new cruises to Cuba that began this year by both Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

* * *

Besides the new cruises, the stronger revenue numbers are being attributed to new and expanded leases like the Port Logistics Cold Storage facility, set to open later this month. Additionally, the revenue was bolstered by imports of commodities like petroleum, cement, phosphate and steel.  


The port teamed up with Tampa real estate developer Richard Corbett to finance the construction of the 130,000-square-foot facility. Port Logistics of Orlando has a 27-year lease to manage the facility, which will receive, label, package and distribute refrigerated foods. Officials hope the new on-dock facility will bring in new business by offering a port three days closer to shippers than Philadelphia, which has the most cold storage food facilities on the East Coast.

We are not going to complain about increased revenue.  But there are some concerns.  Neither the Times nor the Business Journal mentioned container cargo.  Both mentioned the refrigerated food facility.  The revenue from that is from a lease.  We hope the business is successful, but, as you can see in the language in the last block quote, it is not even open.  And there is always the issue of cruises, not just to Cuba, but the tendency in the market to go to bigger ships.  Is that revenue going to plateau, go down or is there really room for more growth?  Is there a cruise plan other than hoping the good times continue?

All that being said, last year was good.

Airport – Some Items

The airport is moving ahead on the process of building an office building near the new rental car facility.

Tampa International Airport will accept bids starting Oct. 18 for a nine-story commercial building that is part of the airport’s $1.5 billion expansion.

The 270,000-square-foot building will include the headquarters of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which will occupy two floors, Chris Minner, the executive vice president of marketing said Thursday at the monthly board meeting. Construction is expected to begin in August and finish by 2020.

They don’t waste any time, which is fine.

In other news, sort of:

Kenneth Strickland, TIA’s director of research and air service development, was recently in Bogota, Colombia meeting with officials from Avianca S.A., that country’s national airline. Avianca’s pilots are currently staging a walkout over salary and benefits that began Sept. 20, according to published reports.

TIA, citing census numbers, said that 37,104 individuals of Colombian ancestry reside in the Tampa Bay area.

Meanwhile, Tampa International’s Colombian traffic has increased 130 percent since 2012, and 27 percent in the last year.

TIA loses 79.8 percent of its Bogota air traffic to other airports, primarily to Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. Of the largest Florida airports, TIA has the largest share (49.2 percent) of Tampa Bay originating passengers to Colombia. The share at Fort Lauderdale was 44.2 percent. Miami International Airport’s share was 37.4 percent while Orlando had a 27.6 percent share.

It is not really news because we knew they were looking at Avianca and that the visit was going to be made, but now it has.  We’ll see what happens.

And one more flight item.  Last week there was news that the new Delta Salt Lake City flight was going to be short-term.  Now:

After saying Delta Airlines would be suspending Tampa International Airport’s new nonstop flight to Salt Lake City, airport officials said the new destination is back on track for full service.

Delta (NYSE: DAL) has indicated that the airline now will suspend service only from Jan. 4, 2018 through Feb. 15 for fleet maintenance and then will resume regular service, said Janet Scherberger, TIA’s assistant vice president of media and government relations.  

We like that more.

Economic Development – What We Like

There was also some interesting news on the economic development front.

Advanced Airfoil Components, a joint venture formed by Siemens and Chromalloy Gas Turbine Corp., will create 350 new jobs when it opens a headquarters site in Tampa Regional Industrial Park, in southeast Hillsborough County.

* * *

Advanced Airfoil will hire workers for a range of skilled positions, including technical engineers, manufacturing technicians and production workers. The new jobs will pay an average annual wage of $57,163, the resolution said. That’s at least 115 percent higher than the average wage in Hillsborough County.

Siemens and Chromalloy announced the joint venture in May, saying Advanced Airfoil would make turbine blade and vane cast components for power generation.

The company will lease 210,000 square feet at Tampa Regional Industrial Park, 13124 U.S. Highway 41, near Big Bend Road, in Gibsonton. The plant is scheduled to open in late 2018.

That is a little vague, but it looks like solid manufacturing which is good all around (as long as Siemens’ business is good, because that is who they are going to supply, apparently.) We need manufacturing, and it should help at the port and airport as well.  And the wages are pretty good.  If you are trying to figure out what to provide incentives for, this is one of the kinds of things you want incentives for.

Economic Development – VC Watch

Some new VC numbers are in. From a Times column:

Thanks to a single mammoth injection of venture capital into one of its start-ups, New York City topped the nation’s VC rankings in sheer dollar funding in this year’s third quarter ended Sept. 30.

The nation’s biggest VC commitment is indeed a whopper: $3 billion going to WeWork, a Manhattan-based start-up involved in office rental and co-working space. The money comes from SoftBank Group billionaire Masayoshi Son who has pledged to invest many more billions in U.S. companies in the coming years.

That deal alone translates to 17 cents of every $1 in venture capital funding that occurred nationwide in the quarter.

Doing some quick math, that means there was about $17.5 billion in VC funding nationally last quarter.  What about Florida and this area?

On a much smaller scale, the same quarter was a good one for the Tampa Bay market, thanks at least to one sizeable investment by Hearst Communications in Tampa’s M2Gen. Hearst committed $75 million to the innovative cancer-fighting start-up that’s majority-owned by Moffitt Cancer Center. By local standards, that is a serious piece of money.

The Hearst stake also happened to be this quarter’s biggest venture capital investment in Florida, according to new data released by Pitchbook and the National Venture Capital Association.

Three other Tampa Bay start-ups are listed as receiving funding in the quarter. Combined, those stakes came to $6 million. . .

There are likely some smaller deals to add to the total, but we’ll go with the rough number of $81 million for the Tampa Bay area, which for us is quite good. Using standard rounding, that is about .5% of all VC funding for an area that is roughly .9% of the US population.  It is better than usual, though not where we’d like to be.  Strangely, we are told this:

Nationally, nearly 1,700 U.S. venture-backed companies raised $21.5 billion in funding in the third quarter of 2017. That brings the year-to-date total to 5,811 companies raising $61.4 billion.

Which means the New York deal was actually on about 14 cents on the dollar and our share was also lower, around .4%. But we are not going to quibble, especially as there are probably other small deals that would make our total a little bigger.  Let’s hope this is the start of an upward trend.

— One More Thing

While the exact categorization of this deal doesn’t really matter, it is still a good way to start a new quarter:

Intezyne Technologies Inc. says it is on solid footing after closing an oversubscribed $10 million capital offering.

The Tampa biopharmaceutical company plans to use the funding to advance two potential cancer treatments through clinical trials, said Kevin Sill, CEO. Intezyne’s two drugs in development are IT-139, to treat pancreatic, gastric and some types of melanoma, lung cancer and thyroid cancer, and IT-141, to treat colorectal and breast cancers.

Intezyne was one of the first pioneers in the University of South Florida Research Center and has plans to eventually go public, as the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported in a profile of the company in July.

For reasons other than just economic, we hope their drugs are successful.

Channel District – Tweak

The long-planned, not built, then resurrected Del Villar proposal, which we discussed a few months ago (see “Channel District – Condos” ), has revised their revised plan a little.  Back when it was first revived and revised in April, we said this:

Most of the changes listed above do not bother us.  One thing we do not like is the lack of retail.  As you can see from the rendering of the east elevation (top rendering, left), the streetscape would be left quite dead. We get that the developers have a Publix in their other project (as well as retail in their first project, Grand Central), but this project would be much better, with the added benefit of complying with the Channel District plan that calls for it, with at least a small amount of retail.  The City should stick to the plan (specifically Sec 27 overall, and more specifically Sec 27-204, all of which can be found here).

Another thing we don’t really like is the apparent blandness of the design, at least in the top elevations.  On those sides (the sides facing the street), it is just a big box, with not even a lot of windows to break up the blandness. (The west side – the bottom elevation – is broken up by balconies, which is better)  We really don’t want to see Channelside Drive become a dead street just as the Channel District is taking off (especially if the Port goes forward with its real estate concept).

This week, the developer filed a change, per URBN Tampa Bay:

BREAKING: After 5 months, we finally have an update on Del Villar, the 36 story, 61 unit condo tower proposed for the southwest corner of Channelside and Whiting. The most notable change is the addition of 709 square feet of retail space to the northeast corner of the project. Before the project had no retail space.

We were opposed to the project originally due to lack of retail, but this proposal seems to be much more acceptable, given the site. Several URBNist wrote in to the city asking them to ensure retail was in the project. We’d like to think that paid off. 

You can see the retail in the upper right hand corner of this plan:

Courtesy of Florida Future @ Skyscrapercity – click on picture for website

The change is something, though not that much.  The retail is well located on the corner, and we are fine with that.  However, the proposal still has a very long wall of blankness on Channelside where the parking garage is.  It is definitely better, but not quite there yet, in our opinion.

Hyde Park – Altis

It appears that the Altis Grand Central project near Oxford Exchange is beginning construction next week.

Altis Grand Central is slated to begin construction Monday. The development will include 314 residential units and 9,750 square feet of retail space on a 2.5-acre site bound by Grand Central Avenue to the north and Cleveland Street to the south, Cedar Avenue to the east and Magnolia Street to the west.

You may remember this was the project that brought a number of objections.  Most of them were addressed, but the revised renderings still seemed to show the parking garage as the most prominent feature, which would be bad.  Hopefully, it is just a poor rendering.

Rays – Indeed

The ongoing Rays stadium saga, which seems just a little bit less tiresome than the transportation saga, had a little news:

Before sunrise on Monday morning, Tim Leiweke walked around the Channel District-Ybor City area that could someday house a new ballpark for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Leiweke, who has had a hand in building 18 stadiums and arenas around the country, saw the appeal. The area, just north of the Ybor Channel and Selmon Expressway, is close to both downtown and the port.

* * *

And he believes baseball can work in Tampa Bay, despite recent history. Just look at how the Lightning have turned around their franchise, Leiweke told the Times before speaking at a panel put on by the University of South Florida’s Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program.

* * *

Leiweke declined to opine on which side of Tampa Bay is best to host a baseball team, but he does have a preference on where officials and the front office should look.

“I put stadiums where they have the greatest economic impact,” he said. “So when you build a stadium away from an urban core, that’s a mistake.”

Nothing to disagree with there.

The location Tampa officials are considering largely meets that criterion. But Tampa’s urban core is relatively sleepy after 6 p.m. And while weekend events and Lightning games have added a buzz to downtown in recent years, it is still mostly vacant outside of work hours.

Leiweke needed to search on his phone Sunday night just to find an open place to eat near his downtown hotel. In most major cities, a short walk would yield several options.

“Your (hockey) arena is the greatest statement about what the Rays face,” he said. “The glass wall is facing the canal and then all of the electricity, the signs, the banners, are all on the plaza. The part that faces your city is a blank wall, cold as hell.”

The planned Water Street Tampa could change that. Vinik and his partner, Bill Gates’ Cascade Investments, have proposed a live-work-play community that will add housing, office space, restaurants, parks and hotels.

The Rays should try to tap into that, Leiweke said, and ensure their ballpark flows into that project. As it stands, the area between downtown and the rumored site is disjointed — divided by the expressway, a sea of parking lots, a Riverwalk that ends at Channelside Plaza, a gigantic flour mill and an industrial channel dotted with ship repair businesses.

“If you could just continue to figure out a way to make it walkable, make it livable, make it bikeable and make it green-friendly, you’ll turn out to be one of the wonderful points of destination in all the world,” he said. “Every snowbird in Canada will want to watch the Toronto Blue Jays when they come and play.”

Setting aside that it sounds like he may have an idea or two about where he thinks the stadium should go, nothing to argue about there either.

Temple Terrace – Oh Well

As many readers may know Temple Terrace has long aspired to redevelop some land at Bullard Pkwy and 56th Street into a downtown area.  It has been a long, sad story of picking and unpicking developers, getting offers from others that haven’t worked out, almost settling for very poor sprawl planes, and it continues.  Which is why this caught our eye:

Mel Jurado easily won the special election for mayor of Temple Terrace on Tuesday, outpacing both her competitors combined by more than 2-1.

* * *    

City leaders have sought to redevelop it into a pedestrian-friendly downtown area of offices, shops, residences and restaurants. But those efforts have hit snags and, meanwhile, the city has until April to refinance or pay back a $23.5 million debt it incurred to buy the property. Jurado said in her campaign that debt means the city must move on the best offers it currently has.

We doubt any deal they get will pay enough to cover the cost.  We also doubt they will actually get a development that will really reach the potential for the land.  Though, until they sell, there is always hope (even if it is diminishing).

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 13, 2017 1:27 PM

    if only there was a place where a stadium could go that had apartments and restaurants right near it…oh wait. It is already in that place.

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