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Roundup 5-25-2018

May 25, 2018

Please note there will be no Roundup next Friday.

Contents

Transportation – Stuff

— PSTA Plans

— Divergence

— Pasco Regionalism

Downtown – A Parking Lot By the River?

Downtown – Settled

Ybor City – Hotel

Economic Development – Another

Economic Development – International Trade

Economy/Planning – Jobs and Houses

— Jobs

— Houses

Sports – Moving the Bowl

Downtown – A Little History

____________________________________


Transportation – Stuff


— PSTA Plans

There was an interesting article in the Business Journal about PSTA’s future plans:

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is taking early steps to launch several new bus routes that would better connect the county to the region.

This comes at a time when residents and businesses are demanding action on transit solutions and builds on a proposed “transit spine” that would connect St. Petersburg to Wesley Chapel along Interstate 275.

As far as we can tell, there is no groundswell of demands for the Interstate “BRT” plan.  Nevertheless, it is good that PSTA is at least thinking of the future.

In a presentation this week, the agency laid out how to pay for the proposed routes through revenue and gas taxes.  Among the proposals are routes along 49th Street and East Bay Boulevard, 34th Street, U.S. Highway 19, 4th Street and routes connecting the county’s beaches to Tampa International Airport, downtown St. Pete and downtown Tampa and enhanced service from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. . .

The proposals are spilt into local transit enhancements that would require gas tax funding and tourism transit project that could use tourist development taxes.

What are these projects?

There are four proposed projects that would require cities to forfeit their entire gas tax revenue in favor of increased transit mobility.

For the time being, we’ll set aside the issue of cities foregoing their gas tax money for bus service.  (We are not judging whether or not it is a good idea. We do not have enough details to decide.  We are just saying we think it highly unlikely.)  The gas tax based lines  are:

4th Street BRT

34th Street BRT

49th Street BRT

U.S. 19 “Rapid”

From the Business Journal – click on map for article

 

We have no idea how real the BRT mentioned actually is.  We also don’t really know what a U.S. 19 “Rapid” is.  Though, if they do real BRT it would be interesting.

PSTA is proposing another four routes that would benefit tourism. The Florida Legislature this year approved using bed tax dollars collected on hotel stays for transit as long as it provided a benefit for tourism.

Those lines are:

Clearwater Beach to TIA

Indian Rocks Beach to TIA

Jolley Trolley Enhancement

727x to Downtown Express (St. Pete to Tampa)

From the Business Journal – click on map for article

Amusingly:

PSTA officials don’t expect to launch all of the programs in the near future.  PSTA CEO Brad Miller said the agency would likely have to proioritize one of the airport routes.  Right now he said the Clearwater Beach business community is pushing back against the route that would connect their area to the beaches.

That seems a bit odd.

“Some hotels only want the bus to go to their hotel and not the other hotels,” Miller said. “The Ulmerton Road [route] is sort of an alternative if Clearwater Beach just doesn’t want it.” 

Feel that sense of community.  Why would government invest in a bus to one hotel?  If private owners want that, let them start their own line.

The bottom line is that PSTA is being very aspirational.  Do not count on any of it soon.  On the other hand, we added up (admittedly done quickly while watching hockey playoffs, so we may have missed something) the total cost of build out of all the lines: $115.2 in capital costs.  In other words, for a quarter of the regional “BRT” plan, Pinellas could build three “BRT” lines, a “Rapid” line, multiple lines from Pinellas to the airport and downtown Tampa.  And if you put the money directly in (like the idea for the “BRT” plan), rather than dragging it out over years, you could likely build it out as fast or faster than the “BRT” line.

We also feel the need to point out that, even though they are mostly in Pinellas, these plans are of regional impact (some of them crossing county lines and others being useful for the region).  We do not understand why most of these proposals and any like them in Hillsborough should not be part of a regional plan.  Regional need not be limited to crossing all county lines (even while, as the “BRT” plan, not serving the primary needs of the region).  To do so would be counterproductive and absurd.

It all makes one wonder why a questionable “BRT” plan using express lanes that FDOT is determined to build anyway (and thus are not part of any bus system’s cost) and highway shoulders (how exactly is still open to question) is worth it.  Why not make the PSTA plan part of regional network (crossing the bay using the same express lanes that will be built with or without bus service) coordinated with Hillsborough? (Assuming HART and Hillsborough government cares to do so, which is a big if).  We do not have to settle for a feeble spine when we could get a network.


— Divergence

The diverging diamond interchange is coming to Hillsborough and Pasco.

Driving on the wrong side of the road isn’t just for the British any more under an innovative plan for moving traffic through three local Interstate 75 interchanges.

Sadly, really driving on the wrong side of the road seems all too common in this area, but that’s not really the point they were getting at.

Construction will soon begin on a $37 million, three-year project to turn I-75 and State Road 56 near Wesley Chapel into a “diverging diamond” interchange. The crisscross road design briefly diverts traffic in both directions onto the opposite side of the road as it passes under or over a freeway.

The Florida Department of Transportation has the same plan for I-75 and Martin Luther King Boulevard in Tampa, a $78.6 million project. The new interchange design, originally dreamed up by French traffic engineers, will be added at other major Florida interchanges in the next five to 10 years.

The double-crossover design helps traffic flow and reduces accidents and congestion, road planners say. By switching traffic to the other side of the road, motorists turning left onto the freeway don’t have to cross oncoming traffic. The switch-over happens after the entrance ramp for drivers making right turns.

If that sounds too complicated, think of it this way:

Instead of as many as six different cycles of green lights, the intersection will need only two.

 

From the Times – click on picture for article

Note that at SR56 it will be another reconstruction of the interchange that most likely will never be fixed (it has always been a mess and, amusingly, it was supposed to help fix the SR54 mess).  And also note the cost of the SR56 rebuild, which has doubled.

Theoretically, we are fine with a new interchange design if it works. (It’s not like the two interchanges discussed are not going not be sprawling messes.)  On the other hand, we are not sure this design will work much better for cars and probably will not work as well (which is already horrible) for people and bikes.  And the cost.

And, given the poor driving locally, we have some concerns.

But the complex design can mean construction takes longer and is more expensive, said Pei-Sung Lin, a program director at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida.

The project will also have to include a public education effort to explain the new road configuration so drivers know what to expect when it opens, he said.

“There is a learning time for drivers,” he said. “Education is very important.”

For University Parkway, FDOT’s driver education included videos posted on Youtube.

FDOT does not typically measure traffic flow after a project is completed provided the new road is performing as planned. That is the case at University Parkway, Carson said.

“Operationally, traffic is running smoothly through the DDI even through the peak periods of the day,” she said. “Public reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.”

We hope so.

We also just wonder how it is that FDOT can find all these millions for changing interchanges here and there (over and over) but seems so hard-pressed to find money to complete transit initiatives like the St. Pete BRT (always waiting on the Federal government).


— Pasco Regionalism

Speaking of Pasco, there was more news on the K-Bar Ranch/Mansfield Blvd issue (you know, paving ten feet to connect two roads).

More than 400 people living along Mansfield Boulevard in Pasco County signed a petition opposing plans to connect New Tampa and Wesley Chapel. 

Stephen Smith recently signed the petition because he’s worried about increased traffic along the area’s school zone. His son will have to walk to Wiregrass Elementary along Mansfield next year. 

“You’re going to have increased accidents, it’s just going to be,” said Smith.

Here is what we are talking about

 

The schools are at the top.  As you can see, there are no houses on the road.  In fact, as is the common practice in the most sprawling areas, the houses are behind walls.  The road has basically nothing on it, except a few schools, to which we suspect (though admittedly we have not done a study) most kids arrive at in cars.

So you can really see the absurdity of what we are talking about, this is a picture from the petition:

From change.org – click on picture for petition

You can read the entire petition here.

Let’s just say the substance of the petition is very local.  (Note that some of these residents are people who would be a “choice” target for the “BRT” plan.)

It will be interesting to see what Pasco County will do.


Downtown – A Parking Lot By the River?

The last few weeks, we have discussed a Straz proposal to build a garage by the river.  However, there is another Straz parking proposal from a while back.

The crunch looks likely to continue.

A Straz plan to expand parking at its arrival plaza off W Tyler Street was rejected Monday by the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission.

Commissioners sided with staff planners who determined that any expansion of parking along the city’s waterfront — currently prohibited — would violate existing zoning regulations.

Tampa officials said riverfront surface parking would conflict with the city’s work in recent years to showcase the Hillsborough River. While acknowledging that the Straz’s parking options, including remote lots and the nearby Poe garage, are often inadequate, city planners stood firm.

* * *

Surface parking along the river was phased out in 2000 as part of a zoning reclassification called the “waterfront overlay,” said Cathy Coyle, the city’s manager of planning and urban design.

“They call it an arrival plaza. Valet is perfectly fine for events,” Coyle said. “It’s the storage of vehicles that is truly the issue here. … We do not believe it’s appropriate to add surface parking back into the waterfront overlay.”

First, that position is entirely reasonable.  Second, they should stand firm.

Straz officials said they just wanted the city’s zoning to reflect reality — “to clean up, we believe, some code language to match up with what we’re currently doing,” said Doug Dieck, a Straz board member.

The Straz has parked about 50 cars in the arrival plaza for years, chief operating officer Lorrin Shepard said Thursday.

The performing arts center wanted the commission to formally authorize that practice. The zoning change would also allow the center to continue its effort to expand the plaza, allowing it to park more cars. The exact number hasn’t been determined, Shepard said.

Sold-out shows stress parking. And the construction of a 30-story, 300-unit residential tower across the street from the entrance will only make things worse. For that reason, Straz officials wanted to get started by this summer on their proposed $375,000 project.

In February, Straz Center executives said their expansion plans would help them better manage valet services, which account for about 10 percent of parking needs. 

What the Straz is doing should match the code not the other way around.  Moreover, the request the Straz is making is not just to match the code to what the Straz is doing now, it is to expand what the Straz is doing.  Though frankly, a lot of this issue stems from this:

“We’re hoping to refine the language so it doesn’t open Pandora’s Box,” said Morris Massey, an attorney representing the Straz. “The center is, frankly, one of the most important cultural centers in the city of Tampa and the region. It’s important for us to maintain access and some level of vehicular use in that area.”

Coyle said the city couldn’t show “favoritism” by accommodating the Straz’s request at the exclusion of other waterfront property owners.

Really, the City shouldn’t show favoritism.

But Shepard said Thursday the Tampa Convention Center, operated by the city, “seems to be exempt from this.”

Of course, the Convention Center predates 2000.  Moreover, we are unaware of any recent expansion of parking on the waterfront at the Convention Center (though the loading docks are unfortunately located (but not as unfortunately as the Straz’s expansion proposals).  But we are not going to get into that.  If the City wanted to expand parking along the water at the Convention Center, we would oppose it.

So we are left with Straz parking issues.

Sold-out shows stress parking. And the construction of a 30-story, 300-unit residential tower across the street from the entrance will only make things worse. For that reason, Straz officials wanted to get started by this summer on their proposed $375,000 project.

The word is that the Straz chose not to make a deal with the developers of that project for dedicated spaces in its garage.  Whether that is the case or not, at this point it is irrelevant.  The spaces do not exist, and, as it stands, if/when they exist, the Straz will not be getting them.

We have an idea, which is not optimal, but could provide a solution: the land between the main library building and the proposed AER apartment building.    The City thought about development proposals for it or maybe a park.  Since it will be overshadowed by a parking garage in the apartment building and the land is not optimal for much else, put a garage there with some retail on the bottom and move on.  No need for parking on the river.  No need to move the loading dock to the Riverwalk.  Put valet parking in the garage. Put some green space on top. Let the Straz pay for it.  Let the Straz own it.

Sure, the library backers may complain.  It is not the most beautiful thing to see from Ashley (though the apartment garage won’t be either). Like we said, it is not necessarily the perfect solution, and we are open to other ideas (transit would be best, but we know the Straz will not accept that as an answer), but at least it is not parking on the riverfront.


Downtown – Settled

For a while momentum for Riverwalk Place has been building.  One possible holdup was a lawsuit filed by a former development partner.

A lawsuit over one of the most anticipated developments in downtown Tampa has been resolved.

Intown Group has withdrawn the lawsuit it filed against Feldman Equities LLC and Tower Realty over the 53-story Riverwalk Place, a mixed-use tower proposed at Ashley Drive and Brorein Street. The tower’s development costs are pegged at $350 million.

We do not know the details.  We just hope the settlement helps get the building get built faster.


Ybor City – Hotel

A long-awaited hotel project on Seventh Avenue broke ground this week.

A ceremony marking the start of construction on a four-story, $32 million boutique hotel at 1402 E Seventh Avenue has been set for Thursday.

The site is now a parking lot, but plans on file with the city of Tampa outline a hotel project with 176 rooms and a height of 78 feet.

The project team includes Ybor City investor Darryl Shaw, the CEO of BluePearl Veterinary Partners, as well as the Capitano, Garcia and Ellison families, Alex Walter, Alfonso Architects, Batson-Cook Construction and EWI Construction.

The hotel company is the Aparium Hotel Group, a Chicago-based company with a portfolio of independent hotels designed and built to reflect the character of the often-older neighborhoods where they are located. One of the company’s goals is to bring what it describes as a C-suite level of hotel service to under-served, albeit “distinct and important” cities.

From Tampa’s Time at SkyscraperCity – click on picture for post

(It is highly unlikely that the building is 78 feet tall.  It may be 78 feet above mean sea level but it is more likely about 50 feet tall above the street)

We are all for the proper rejuvenation of Ybor.  And note that this building has protection for pedestrians.  Yes, that is the historical norm that you basically have to copy in the Ybor district, but there is a reason that was the norm.  Designers of other walkable areas should learn from the past.


Economic Development – Another

Last week, we discussed that Mosaic was moving its HQ to Hillsborough County.  It appears another company is also moving to the area.

Custom battery-maker Resistacap Energy Products will move its headquarters from Huntsville, Ala., to its existing facility near Westchase, the company and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. said Thursday.

The company plans to grow as well as move, Resistacap president Gary Bolohan said. If his name sounds familiar, it may be because Bolohan was the longtime president of Tampa-based Reptron Electronics.

Resistacap has 35 employees in Huntsville and last August opened a manufacturing operation with 10 people at the Tri-County Business Park, just east of the Hillsborough-Pinellas county line.

It plans to hire 100 workers for jobs in assembly, soldering, welding and accounting and to spend about $500,000 expanding its Hillsborough operations at 12180 Race Track Road from 5,000 to 15,000 square feet.

And, as with Mosaic:

Neither the state of Florida nor local officials agreed to any incentives, which typically come in the form of tax refunds after new jobs are created, to induce the company to move here. Bolohan said the company contacted the EDC in January and thanked the nonprofit organization for “connecting us to resources to help fulfill our workforce needs.”

Admittedly, it is not the biggest move, but we like any HQ move to the area. Even better, they were here already and liked it enough to move without incentives.  Hopefully, this becomes a trend.


Economic Development – International Trade

There was news-ish in the Times regarding efforts to grow international trade.

A decade ago, the Great Recession put Hillsborough and Pinellas counties’ efforts to grow their foreign exports on hold.

So what exactly were all the trade missions in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, and more about? Not to mention that when times are bad is when you really need to be out drumming up business so we have no idea why the recession would have put anything on hold. Regardless, it makes for a good intro to this:

But since then those efforts have returned, gained support and momentum, expanded the range of their ambition and are now being organized under an initiative known as Global Tampa Bay.

Previously known as the Tampa Bay Export Alliance, Global Tampa Bay now consists of the economic development organizations in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. It still aims to increase local companies’ overseas sales. But also has a second goal: To attract more direct foreign investment to the bay area.

* * *

Pinellas and Hillsborough launched the Tampa Bay Export Alliance in 2014, and soon thereafter the bay area joined Enterprise Florida on a trip to Panama. Later that year, the bay area organized its first joint trade mission and went to Chile. Trips to Canada and Costa Rica took place in 2015. In 2016, Pasco’s Economic Development Council got involved on an informal basis.

Global Tampa Bay last month returned from a trade mission to Mexico, and plans to return to Chile in September.

Setting aside why Polk, Manatee or other counties are not included, we are all for promoting the region as a region internationally (though we are not really sure this new thing is much better than previous new things.  Either you are cooperating or you aren’t).  Frankly, it should have been done much more long ago.

So five years ago, JP Morgan and the Brookings Institution launched a global cities initiative to help metro leaders become more internationally aware and savvy. The Tampa Bay area was one of 28 U.S. communities selected for the effort.

“One of the findings of that study that really caught our attention is if Tampa Bay could just become average in the percentage of our regional product that is devoted to exports, we could add $8 billion to our economy and 40,000 new jobs,” Pinellas County Economic Development director Mike Meidel told a crowd of about 200 at the University Club.

Note, that means we are below average.  But you don’t get better by not addressing deficiencies. (Like not having a Brazil flight to help the wheels of commerce.  See also here) What would really be odd is if it really took JP Morgan and Brookings to get people focused.  Globalization was a pretty well-known phenomenon in 2013.

Still, the region should be working as a region to develop international trade, and most everything else.


Economy/Planning – Jobs and Houses


— Jobs

It is time once again to check in with the employment and housing figures.  First employment:

The private sector has added 33,000 jobs over the past year in the Tampa metropolitan area, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office announced Friday. That’s the second highest job growth in the state; Orlando has topped that statistic for 37 straight months.

The unemployment rate in the Tampa area is below the national average at 3.2 percent, which is down 0.6 percent from one year ago. 

And that is very good.  The distribution of jobs is interesting:

In Tampa Bay, the industries with the highest job growth over the past 12 months were leisure and hospitality with 9,300 new jobs; education and health services with 6,300 jobs; and finance with 6,200 new jobs.

Quite the service economy.


— Houses

In any event, that leads to housing where the Times had an article entitled “Surge of home starts in Hillsborough, Pasco still can’t meet demand” which is not exactly what the article said (it was a bit more nuanced than that).

Every weekend, scores of prospective buyers stream through the dazzling model homes at Waterset, admiring the high-end lighting, the glass-tile backsplashes, the plank-tile floors

For prices ranging from the $200s to the $800s, lookers can be owners in this huge master planned community, one of many in the Tampa Bay area in the throes of a construction boom.

Over the past 12 months, the number of new home starts jumped 16 percent compared to the previous 12-month span. In Waterset alone, 340 houses began construction as bulldozers and backhoes continued to transform one-time farm fields into what ultimately could be a community of 10,000.

The key to the article title is this:

Yet for all of the building in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, which together account for nearly 90 percent of home starts in Tampa Bay, the demand still remains greater than the supply — especially for moderately priced homes.

“We are still under-built because we can’t afford to build in the $180,000 to $200,000 price bank,” says Tony Polito, regional director of Metrostudy, which tracks housing starts. “I could easily make a case for a couple thousand more units (to satisfy) pent-up demand.”

Housing experts warn that this will be a tough year for buyers, particularly first-time and lower-income buyers. A shortage of existing homes has driven up bay area prices to a median of $230,000 although they can go much higher in popular neighborhoods close to downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg.

In other words, there is an income/housing price issue, at least for some.  So why don’t the developers in the exurbs build lower priced housing?  According to the article, because of all the pesky attempts at planning:

That has prompted more buyers to look at new homes in semi-rural, planned communities where they traditionally could get much more house for the money. But several factors are putting even those beyond the reach of many in a metro area where the median household income is still only $51,100.

“The rule of thumb is three times income, so most people would prefer to buy a $180,000 home,” Polito says. “You just can’t produce that because of impact fees and land costs and construction costs.”

The average price of a new home with lot is now about $315,000, he says.

And

“It’s become increasingly difficult to produce a well-located single family home under $300,000,” Nunn says. Like Polito, he cites rising impact fees as a significant factor.

Counties charge the fees to cover the costs of adding roads, schools and utilities to accommodate the thousands of new residents. Fees in Hillsborough and Pasco add about $20,000 to the cost of each WestBay house, Nunn estimates.

The need for road improvements is particularly obvious in the Apollo Beach area, where residents of Waterset and nearby communities say it can take 30 minutes at rush hour to reach 1-75 just a half mile away. But from a builder’s standpoint, all of those new houses going up are assets, not liabilities.

“What frequently gets overlooked is that the typical $300,000 house is going to provide $4,500 in a perpetual real estate tax stream,” Nunn says. “That a perpetual amount that’s turned over to the county from day one. Growth does pay for itself, I believe.”

First, $20,000 in fees does not get you from $180,000 to $315,000. (Not to mention if you add $20,000 to $180,000 you are in the $200,000 range.) More likely, the developers want to make more money and not build smaller houses.  (We get that the developers want free reign to do whatever they want.  Deep down, most people probably do.)

Second, yes, there is a tax stream from built houses, but that does not pay for the impact, which can be seen every day all over the area (and in County Commission discussions/budgets going back many years). Though maybe he is suggesting raising taxes on all the residents in the county to pay for the impact.

And there is another point, the real cost of a “well-located” house is not the fees (under a mobility fee system – or any reasonable impact fee system – the fees would be lower at a better, closer in location with a well-developed infrastructure than distant, exurban south county, where the residents have to travel farther to get to everything).  Much of the cost of well-located is the land and simply because people can charge more for desirable locations.  Impact/mobility fees are so that everyone else does not have to pay for the impact of the distant house – otherwise known as a subsidizing sprawl.

But that’s not all:

According to Metrostudy, Hillsborough’s share of the new-home market in Tampa Bay has soared to almost 60 percent. So much of the construction is in south Hillsborough that 600 more homes were built in just that area than in all of Pasco County over the past year.

But while south Hillsborough seems to have vast swaths of land still available for development — too much development, critics say — appearances are somewhat deceiving. Much of the land is outside the urban services boundary while only about 20,000 lots are within the area served by county water and sewer. At a time when 3,500 new homes a year are going up south of the Alafia River, all those lots could be built out by 2025.

Maybe they could.

However, a lot of the problem goes back to bad planning by the County and by the developers. First, if developers would stop wasting land on sprawling developments and build in a more efficient way, they could fit more housing (and more profits).  If they and the County stopped pretending (especially when giving approvals) that there were unlimited funds for infrastructure and unlimited land for sprawl, some of the problems would be mitigated.  And if there were better transportation options, people might have more to spend on housing.  (Of course, that would take the Commission working on priorities.)

Not to mention the lingering the fact that incomes lag in this area relative to expenses and other areas.


Sports – Moving the Bowl

The Gasparilla Bowl is moving from St. Pete to Tampa.

The Gasparilla Bowl is moving to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa beginning this year, leaving its former site at Tropicana Field.

“We are excited about the continued growth of this bowl game,” said Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events, which operates the Gasparilla Bowl. “I want to thank those we have worked with in St. Petersburg and at Tropicana Field in helping us build this game into a quality, postseason experience.”

We’re not sure what, if anything, this means.


Downtown – A Little History

Having noted the Julian Lane history a few weeks ago, we wanted to note a few historical sites/markers that were news this week.  First, the bridge:

Born in 1825 in South Carolina, Taylor was owned by the Howell family, who later moved to Hernando County, bringing her and an enslaved man, Benjamin.

After their emancipation, Benjamin and Fortune married in 1866, one of the first legal ceremonies for an African-American couple in Hillsborough County. Eventually, Fortune Taylor secured the title to 33 acres of land in downtown Tampa along the east bank of the Hillsborough River, including land now occupied by the Barrymore.

In 1892, Taylor and lawyer Hugh McFarlane agreed to build a bridge spanning the river, connecting West Tampa to the rest of the area. The original bridge was replaced by the current one in 1927. It was known until the 1960s as the Fortune Street Bridge.

In 1967, construction to accommodate Tampa’s portion of Interstate 275 meant realigning a number of streets that included Fortune Street, and the bridge ended up along Laurel Street, for which it was renamed.

“Someone stole that from her,” Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick said during an October meeting when the council voted to restore Fortune’s name to the bridge. The road will still be called Laurel Street, but a historic marker now stands on the bridge’s east side, reading “Madame Fortune Taylor Bridge.”

And, then there is Woolworth’s:

When 80-year-old Clarence Fort passes the corner of Franklin and Polk streets, he remembers the segregated F.W. Woolworth store where “you could spend $100 in the store but not sit at the lunch counter and order a Coke.”

So as a 21-year-old NAACP youth leader, he organized and participated in the Woolworth sit-in demonstration to desegregate lunch counters in Tampa.

While the store on 800 N Franklin St. is long closed, the building remains, and on Saturday the city memorialized the sit-in by unveiling a historic marker that names those 40 students who took part in the first protest on Feb. 29, 1960.

“These people helped transformed Tampa into the city it is today,” Fort said.

We hope the building will be put to good use soon and preserved.  As we have often said, we are all for explanatory markers (and these are long overdue) but preserving the actual locations is even better (like Jackson house).  And, really, neither gives the full context or story, but they are a start.

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