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Roundup 11-1-2019

October 31, 2019

We are posting a little early this week.  Have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.

Contents

Transportation

— Lots of Money

— Anything But What Makes Sense, Cont.

— Streetcar

— Roads to Nowhere

— Virgin Trains

— Continuous Flow

Downtown/Channel District – 1010 Water Street

West Tampa aka North Hyde Park – Revised

USF Area – Hooray, Beer . . . Sort Of, Cont

USF Area – Uptown

Downtown – Quietly

Governance/Economic Development – CRA’s

Tampa Bay – What is It, Cont

Pasco – RJ, Finally

Rays

Meanwhile, In the Rest of the Country

________________________


Transportation


— Lots of Money

The big news last week was that the State has found the money to pay for the rebuild of the I-275/SR60 interchange in Westshore.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Transportation announced today $1.4 billion in funding will be used for the reconstruction of the Interstate 275/State Road 60 Westshore area interchange in Tampa.

This project will connect the Howard Frankland Bridge, the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Veterans Expressway and Tampa International Airport with additional general purpose and express lanes.

It will also reconnect local streets beneath the interstate to relieve traffic congestion on Westshore Boulevard and improve community access, according to the Thursday afternoon announcement.

While it is technically true that there will be some additional free (the “general purpose” lanes) that is not really reflective of the project.  For the most part, the project is to build variable rate toll (express) lanes.  In a few places, free lanes will be added for a stretch, but they are not the focus.  The focus is on tolls.  For instance, there is this about free lanes:

Those vehicles on I-275 will have additional lanes as they drive through the interchange. The two lanes that go north to downtown Tampa from the Howard Frankland Bridge will expand to three. The same is true of the southbound lanes in that area.

That third lane is being done now and still will not fix the bottleneck for the free lanes at the east end of the Howard Frankland where it will go from 4 lanes (with a short period of 5 lanes, with two exiting before Westshore) to 3 lanes. (Note that not all free lanes are “general purpose”.  Some are designated “auxiliary” lanes, like the fourth lane on the bridge which will still form a bottleneck at the Westshore end.)  The key new lanes will be two tolled lanes. (see here)

You can see it in the video:

In any event, we like the reconnection of the surface roads.  That is definitely a positive.  And changing the ramp from SR60 to northbound I-275 is a good idea, though there will still be messy merges.

Overall, we have no expectation that this project will actually fix the interstate.  If anything, it will make it better for a short period and then it will get overcrowded again (and then what?).  And there will likely be almost no effect for the free lanes.  And then there is this noted by URBN Tampa Bay:

This was touted by FDOT as a $600 million project 3 years ago. Now it’s $1.4 billion?

(See page 162 of this TBX pdf from 2015, which is marked as Figure 8-1).  Even if you account for some inflation, that seems like quite the increase. One could do a lot with the additional money other than build express lanes.

In short, we are not opposed to fixing the bottleneck that should never have existed at the end of the bridge, connecting the surface streets that should never have been cut, and adding some capacity (though it will soon be filled).  Unfortunately, while the surface streets will be connected, the bottleneck will still not really be fixed and the capacity that is added is mostly variable rate toll capacity that does not serve most of the people using the roads – or paying taxes (when they can afford it, they won’t need it, and, when they need it, they won’t be able to afford it).

And then there is this: after all that money is spent and it gets congested again, then what?


— Anything But What Makes Sense, Cont.

After coming up with a “BRT” plan, as we have discussed before, TBARTA is branching out.

The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority is looking ahead when it comes to putting Tampa on the map for futuristic transit technologies.

The TBARTA staff unanimously approved a transit innovations task order on Friday morning as the state has allocated $1 million for the study of innovative technology.

The board coordinated with its consultant WSP USA Inc. to develop a scope of work and project schedule for a high-level feasibility study called the Transit Technologies Feasibility Study that would evaluate three innovative transit technologies — hyperloop, aerial gondolas and air taxis. The work would be performed as a task work order under WSP’s contract.

The feasibility study will cover route types, corridor profiles and connections, travel demand, environmental considerations, safety considerations, regulatory considerations, an overview of the technologies alongside comparable technologies and innovations, costs, and sector financing opportunities, according to TBARTA’s document. The study is expected to be completed in 12 months.

Good thing they are paying a consultant $1 million for that. They could have used that money to run the streetcar for another year plus. (They even could have subsidized most of a year of the Cross-Bay Ferry, though they shouldn’t).

The portion of the study related to hyperloop will focus on its applicability to the state as a whole, while the portion of the study related to air taxis and aerial gondolas will focus only on Tampa Bay.

Probably because hyperloop has basically no application as transit (and statewide it would compete with Virgin Trains, which seems an odd choice.)

The consultant may look at companies in the hyperloop industry such as Virgin Hyperloop One, TransPod and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which HTT has said it has interest in providing a connection from Tampa to St. Petersburg.

For air taxis, the document lists companies such as Uber Air, Bell Helicopter, Volocoptor and Lilium.

In respect to aerial gondolas, the consultant may evaluate the Doppelmayr (manufacturer of the Portland Aerial Tram and the London Emirates Air Line) and Poma (manufacturer of the Roosevelt Island Tramway).

Even if you provide a connection from Tampa to St. Pete, then what?  How do you get around?  You still need real transit, which is what TBARTA should be looking at.  (Same with sky taxis, which have all sorts of practical issues as we touched on last week.)

This effort appears far more like people trying to find anything other than tested and proven technology (rail and real BRT) to provide real transit than a quest for real solutions.  Meanwhile, there are requests in for more TBARTA funding in the Legislature.

We are not opposed to funding TBARTA if it is going to do serious work on our existing local transportation issues, but we are still waiting for that.


— Streetcar

Meanwhile, over where something more serious is going on:

HART has plans for a new generation of sleeker, faster, and larger streetcars, some of them more than 70 feet long.

* * *

Last November, Hillsborough County voters approved a one-cent sales tax increase for transportation. Planners say when it clears the courts the funds will help build streetcar tracks in more of downtown along with new streetcar lines stretching from Whitiing Street to Palm Avenue.

* * *

The new trains will run on the same kind of tracks. Limmer said he expects Tampa will have new streetcars by 2024 or 2025 and there is no cost estimate yet. He anticipates federal and state funding, transportation tax revenue, and sponsorships will pay for the streetcars. 

We are all for the modernization, though we will wait and see about the funding.


— Roads to Nowhere

The Times had another in an ongoing series of articles about the roads to nowhere project.  This one included things like this:

A contractor hired by the department won’t even start exploring where the roads would go until January. Financial projections would presumably follow.

It leaves little to no time for task force members to thoroughly evaluate the need, if any, for the projects. Their recommendations to DeSantis and the Legislature are due in one year. Construction is supposed to start in 2022, with the roads built by 2030.

On Wednesday, task force member Thomas Hawkins, a land planner and University of Florida program director, noted that their agenda over the next year doesn’t include anything about road costs, which would be in the billions.

“We need to talk about the demand for people to pay tolls, right? What is projected revenue and what are projected costs?” Hawkins asked. “I don’t see it anywhere on this sheet. That’s a problem.”

Yes, not knowing anything about routes, demand, possible use, and financial information is a problem, especially when you are talking billions of dollars.  Of course:

Transportation officials are usually the ones who pitch new roads after years of studies that demonstrate a tangible need for them. Yet in the cases of the three new toll roads, department officials had not identified them in Florida’s long-term plans, where roads of necessity are typically found.

We are not going to go over the whole article (you can read it here)  We have said a number of times that there may be a need for some (or all of these roads someday) but, aside from a connection from I-275 to the Veterans/Suncoast which should be much farther south than the Turnpike, today is not that day.  Right now, money needs to be spent on real transportation alternatives in areas that are already built up. That is not really happening.

Even if these roads were to not happen, weep not for the road builders, there are enough road projects getting funded to keep them making money for a long time.


— Virgin Trains

In news tangentially related to the Tampa Bay area (and by that we mean the Tampa Bay area, not Hillsborough County quazi-governmental or largely government subsidized agencies):

Virgin Trains could be nearing an agreement soon on a location near the theme parks in Orlando.

The Miami-based intercity train, which is working on a $4 billion expansion from Orlando International Airport to West Palm Beach, revealed in report on September that it would target reaching an agreement to develop a station in fourth-quarter of this year. Virgin Trains now is evaluating station sites in the area that may serve one or more theme parks in the area.

A station for the theme parks is something Virgin Trains has proposed as part of its $1.7 billion Orlando-to-Tampa route, and area resorts have voiced support for it. A Walt Disney World Resort representative spoke in favor of the rail expansion project during an April 5 Florida Development Finance Corp. meeting and Universal Parks & Resorts CEO Tom Williams has said he will lobby hard for the train to have a station near Universal’s proposed Epic Universe theme park.

Virgin Trains did not reveal the locations of the station sites it was looking at in the report. Virgin Trains representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.

They are still negotiating about the Orlando Airport to Tampa route, so this may or may not mean something for us.  In additional news,

Brightline said Tuesday it will build a station at PortMiami by 2020. The rail will ultimately connect a crucial 170-mile (275-kilometer) stretch from West Palm Beach to Orlando and its theme parks. It’s scheduled to open in 2022. From Orlando, the company hopes to eventually expand to Tampa and Jacksonville.

Needless to say, a connection to downtown Tampa would also connect to cruises out of Tampa.  The waiting continues.


— Continuous Flow

In the quest to make traffic flow (which it won’t) FDOT is now looking at continuous flow intersections.

FDOT is considering using continuous-flow intersections at four very busy and congested Tampa Bay area intersections.

A continuous-flow intersection, sometimes referred to as a displaced left turn intersection, is an innovative design to help improve safety and mobility by redirecting some or all left hand turns at a major signalized intersection.

You can see it better in this video:

You may notice that this makes the intersections even bigger and harder to navigate for pedestrians and cyclists. Of course, some intersections in this area are functionally uncrossable at the moment, but we are not sure why FDOT, which says it wants to address those issues, wants to make them worse.  In any event, here is where they are looking:

FDOT completed an Innovative Intersections Feasibility Review for US 19 from Tampa Rd to Alt 19. The state found several designs, not just continuous-flow intersections, that provide better level of service at signalized intersections.

Now, FDOT said they have been tasked to take this US 19 review forward with conceptual designs and traffic simulation.

FDOT also finished an earlier review of Dale Mabry Hwy from Van Dyke just south of SR 54. This review has also been taken forward as above and is underway, according to the state.

The state is also on track to perform a similar review for Fowler Ave. between the I-275 and I-75 interchanges.

Finally, FDOT is looking at US 41 at State Road 54 in Pasco County.

We suspect the announcement of the one or more of these projects is just a matter of time. Remember, when you are in a hole, the best thing to do is to keep digging.


Downtown/Channel District – 1010 Water Street

There was more Water Street news. From URBN Tampa Bay:

Water Street Tampa has received zoning approval for 1010 Water Street, a 22 story, 511 unit apartment tower. The project also features 32,000 square feet of retail space.

 

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

We previously discussed this building here and here (where there are more renderings).  We like all the retail (though there will be one relatively dead street).  On the other hand, it is quite a boxy building, but it has some design to it.  While it is not our favorite Water Street building, overall it is not bad, and it seems to have awnings.

URBN Tampa Bay says it should start soon.  We are not sure if that is official or if that is just based on the fact that Water Street is moving at a very impressive pace, but it is likely.


West Tampa aka North Hyde Park – Revised

The project proposed for 1116 West Carmen Street has been revised.  We previously discussed the older version here. From URBN Tampa Bay:

The project is a 6-story building with 264 units. The code requires 398 parking space, and the developer plans to build 348 parking spaces, so a waiver is sought for that.

Originally, the first-floor outward facing units had closed-off patios lining the sidewalk, basically the equivalent of a balcony on the ground. Under our advice, the developer has modified these units to be walk-up units. As you can see in these renders, the ground floor units facing the sidewalk now have front doors for each unit leading out to the sidewalk.

* * *

The developer redesigned the parking garage to make it more aesthetically pleasing. The parking garage will have a rooftop amenity deck, with great views of Downtown.

Also, the developer is providing a dog park on the project’s northern end – and get this – a rail platform along the CSX tracks for a possible future light rail stop.

 

From Florida Future at SkyscraperCity – click on picture for post

 

From Florida Future at SkyscraperCity – click on picture for post

Setting aside the façade, which is still a bit generic, those are all solid changes to the project. But there is still this, which we noted previously:

The other striking feature is the lack of retail.  We get that this lot is a bit off the beaten track, but only a bit.  We also think this area is undergoing rather rapid redevelopment so that what seems a bit isolated now will not necessarily be so later.   We do not think this building, which is not on a large through road needs to have a huge amount of retail.  However, retail space for in the northwest corner for a corner store/coffee shop type establishment would be good.  Moreover, in the future, when the lots around it are developed, if they also have retail on the corner, it will become a small neighborhood hub like a proper urban neighborhood.

The project is definitely better with the revision (and for that and its interest in working with the community, the developer should be commended), but with some small tweaks it could be better still.


USF Area – Hooray, Beer . . . Sort Of, Cont

A while back we discussed a proposal by Yuengling to develop some open space at their brewery. (See here) To recap, this is what they were seeking approval for:

 

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

This is what we said previously:

We have mixed feelings about this.  First, it is a large piece of unused land in an area that could use some good development, and this seems like an interesting idea.  Hotel, restaurant, microbrewery, beer garden, etc.  That is all good.  On the other hand, it is completely car oriented (including a very large retention pond on the street and a driveway cutting the project off from 30th Street and the area around it, which we tend to be against.   Then again, the entire area around it is basically a sprawling mess (though there is housing and other retail nearby) and it is a brewery.  Then again, it is near the CSX lines and could be part of a circulator system.  And, done better, it could also help jump start a remaking of the area into something better than a sprawling mess.

To summarize, we applaud the effort and the general idea.  We would definitely like the concept (if not this exact plan) to go forward.  However, we wish it were done better with at least an attempt to relate to the area around it.

Nothing has changed.  We still like the thought, but it could be executed much better and in a way that would do much more for the neighborhood (and increase the likelihood that spur more development in the area).  Moreover, the present design would not connect effectively to any potential transit (including any rational bus system).  In any event, last week:

Tampa City Council on Thursday unanimously approved Yuengling’s plans for a mixed-use redevelopment on its 43-acre property at 11111 N. 30th St., said Carlos Alfonso, a Tampa architect involved in the project.

Construction is slated to begin in May, Alfonso said. Yuengling is in the process of choosing a food and beverage operator.

(Choose a beverage operator?) We hope for the best, but still think this could have been better.  This area is likely to undergo a decent amount of change in the near and mid-range future.  The City needs to get ahead of the process to shape it in a way that will have enduring quality.


USF Area – Uptown

Speaking of the USF area, we happened along a presentation to the County Commission by the (ineffable) !p group. (here)  Included in the presentation was a rendering of sorts of the plans for Uptown a/k/a University Mall property.  It may or may not be the real plan, but it is what we have, so we will go with it.

From County Commission 10-16-2019 meeting presentation pdf, page 8 – click on picture for pdf

Since these plans began, we have said we like the concept that has been laid out but that the execution has been a bit off.  Looking at the picture, there is much to commend it.  There is a good mix of uses.  There is decent density. We cannot see any real designs, but the concept looks pretty good. . . except one thing, which has been a major issue all along.

Look at the surface parking and outparcels along Fowler.  Whenever there are discussions about fixing up the USF area, there are discussions about making Fowler much more friendly to pedestrians, cyclists, transit, etc., and making it more attractive.  As shown in this rendering, none of that is accomplished by the plan.  It focuses development almost completely on the back of the land and leaves the front door a sprawling mess.

Even more, just south of Fowler run CSX tracks (something a Commissioner noted a number of times during the Commission meeting).  However, the pictured layout does nothing to make the entire Uptown development, which contemplates what appears to be decent internal pedestrian circulation, accessible to any future transit.  And it does nothing to encourage redevelopment of the south side of Flower.  It just mirrors the sprawl there now.

Of course, the plan can change, and the land facing Fowler can be addressed.  We hope that happens.  There is a great opportunity to change the nature of the arterial roads that would help have a knock-on effect of the area.  And, as we said, we like much of the general concept behind Uptown.  We just hope they execute those ideas better.  It is an opportunity that should not be missed.


Downtown – Quietly

The two building Seasons apartment proposal has been moving along without much hubbub.  Per URBN Tampa Bay:

Seasons Apartments and Suites, a multi-tower residential project planned for 601 and 602 Whiting Street, has received approval.

The project features a 41 story tower and a 27 story tower with a combined 541 residential units, two restaurant spaces, and a single retail slip.

If built, the yellow tower would become the 5th tallest building in Tampa, ahead of both Rivergate and Park Tower.

The project is designed by famed architect Helmut Jahn.

 

From URBN Tampa Bay – click on picture for Facebook page

We discussed this when first proposed here.  (There are more pictures and site plans there.)

At the time we said:

While we are still lacking details, including about the development team (we know who filed the application, but is that the development team?), looking at the project overall, it is quite large and tall and would definitely stick out, especially if built with the colors in the renderings.  We are all for variety of facades, but we are not sure (really, we are not sure) about those colors (though they very well may grow on us) and we are not sure about having 27 stories of blank metal panels.   Additionally, the narrowness of the Seasons Suites tower will definitely be interesting to see.  Given the size of the project and the size of the lot, the street activity is decent.  As for the business plan, we leave that to the developers.

While we would still like to see more and think about it, our initial impression of the Seasons Apartments building is good, though we are not sure about the colors.  However, we have a real concerns about the Seasons Suites 27 stories of metal panels.  We hope they do something to address that.  We shall have to see much about this proposal.

We still like the overall idea and are not sure about the colors, and we hope they have changed those panels on the shorter building.


Governance/Economic Development – CRA’s

A while back, we discussed efforts by some on the Tampa City Council to change how community redevelopment agencies (CRA’s) are run, including potentially having a CRA director who reports directly to the City Council rather than being a City employee overseen by the Mayor (though the City Council oversees the CRA’s generally).  When last we left this issue, City staff was going to report back to the Council regarding possible organizational changes.  Now, they have:

Tampa will hire an executive whose focus will be managing the city’s community redevelopment districts, created over the last fifteen years to revive blighted neighborhoods.

Everyone agrees that’s a good thing. But, in a major change from their earlier position, the executive likely won’t report to council members.

If Mayor Jane Castor gets her way, the director ultimately will be hired by her administration and report to her. At least that was the plan presented by Chief of Staff John Bennett Monday to little dissent from council members.

* * *

Since taking office in May, a majority of council members had voiced support for having the director report to them because the City Council also sits as the Community Redevelopment Agency board and has final responsibility for the $33 million in revenue generated by property taxes within each area’s boundaries.

After Bennett’s presentation, that consensus melted away. By the end of Monday’s workshop, only council member Bill Carlson was still making the case that a director needed to report to council members.

Afterward, Carlson said he was okay with how things turned out, noting the administration’s willingness to separate the redevelopment area job from that of the economic development director.

* * *

Carlson said the same thing, but also noted that council members still have the power to cancel the agency’s contract with the city if they were unhappy with the director’s performance.

We think the splitting of the jobs, which actually have two different mandates, is a significant step.  While they sound the same, at the City, economic development tends to be real estate development and tends to be targeted towards larger projects. The community redevelopment areas are just that, for the community.  There are times where the two overlap, but there are times when they do not.  Having the same person in charge and reporting to the Mayor can muddle the distinction, especially in Tampa’s system.  (Of course, it will not make any difference if the City Council does no exercise real oversight.)

The final decision will be made at next month’s Community Redevelopment Agency meeting.

We will see how it works out.


Tampa Bay – What is It, Cont

There was more news on the “Tampa Bay” front.  First, the Mayor of St. Pete sent a letter to the head of the Hillsborough EDC.

Kriseman has proposed an “Economic Development Mutual Aid Agreement,” in which those involved in business recruitment would formally agree to provide each other with assistance and cooperation as it relates to economic development. He emailed a letter Thursday to local leaders outlining the plan, and said if there is consensus to move forward with the concept, he would direct the city attorney to work on a draft agreement for review and input.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said in a statement to the St. Pete Catalyst that she backs regional collaboration. (See Castor’s full statement below.) Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton also indicated support for the plan during an interview with the Catalyst, as did the chairs of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater St. Petersburg Economic Development Corp.

Kriseman’s proposal was prompted, at least in part, by news that the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. are changing their names to the Tampa Bay Chamber and the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council. The EDC said it will begin using its new name Oct. 29 at its annual meeting.

Moreover:

He said the name change “only hurts our collective efforts and reverses the progress that has been made to date, unless those two organizations intend to focus on all cities and counties throughout the Tampa Bay area. I don’t believe that to be the case,” Kriseman wrote.

Mike Meidel, director of Pinellas County Economic Development, called the name change “a violation of trust.”

“Our biggest concern is people will go their website, Tampa Bay EDC, and think they’re getting information on all the counties in the area, when in reality they’re only seeing sites available in Hillsborough County,” Meidel said at the Pinellas County Economic Development Council meeting Thursday.

All of that is entirely obvious and probably why the name change is happening. (The justification for the name change cannot still officially be that people cannot figure out that “Tampa” is in the “Tampa Bay” area.  To put is very generously, that is a really weak reason.)

The head of the Hillsborough EDC responded:

The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. will go ahead with an announced name change.

The organization will be known as the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council as of Oct. 29, Craig Richard, president and CEO, said in an Oct. 25 letter to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

“Our name will change but our service area will not,” Richard said.

* * *

Kriseman last week asked the group to reconsider the move, and to enter into a regional “economic development mutual aid agreement.” Richard said the EDC would be “delighted” to sign such an agreement.

But Richard would not back down on the name change announced earlier this month, around the same time the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce said it would be known as the Tampa Bay Chamber.

Which is about the tone we expected.

We think the best summation of the issue came from a Business Journal opinion piece from the Pinellas EDC head (here).

The current rebranding announced by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. to become the “Tampa Bay Economic Development Council” would dilute our regional brand and could damage future cooperative efforts. This rebranding is inherently confusing, as businesses seeking relocation information will believe they are contacting a regional organization, when in fact, they will only receive information about locations in Hillsborough County. If the THEDC does not aspire to serve multiple counties, as they claim, then this new name does not accurately represent the organization. This does a disservice to their intended audience and harms true regional efforts.

Despite THEDC’s arguments, this name change is not on a par with the Hillsborough Convention and Visitors Bureau’s rebranding as Visit Tampa Bay and its subsidiaries as Film Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. Pinellas County’s CVB has never done significant marketing using the Tampa Bay brand, while all of the economic development organizations in the region have been building campaigns and promotional efforts around the Tampa Bay brand for over a quarter-century. 

To quote Craig Richard, CEO of the THEDC, in his interview with the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2016, “Regional collaboration is important. When I was in Texas, we coined a term called ‘coopetition.’ You had hundreds of economic development organizations all competing, but on a regional basis you have to cooperate to market the region successfully. … Regionalism is critical.”

I strongly urge all the economic development organizations of Tampa Bay to help complete the effort to build a new regional organization — the Tampa Bay Alliance. The seven counties of Tampa Bay need to fund and implement the recommendations of the Avalanche study. Together, we can become one of the strongest destinations in the nation for business expansions and for the attraction of quality workers.

There should be a regional organization, and the Hillsborough EDC should drop the name change.  Any benefit the EDC gets from adding “Bay” to “Tampa” is far less than the damage to regional relations.

It is a completely unforced error.


Pasco – RJ, Finally

It has been many years since Raymond James started considering a satellite campus in Pasco County.  It seems that it might be going forward.

Raymond James Financial is advancing plans for a new satellite campus in Wiregrass Ranch, eight years after announcing the expansion.

The St. Petersburg-based financial services company filed a preliminary site plan with Pasco County last week and simultaneously requested a meeting with county planners, the typical precursor to initiating new development.

The site plan shows five separate office buildings, two parking garages and surface parking lots on the 65-acre site at State Road 56 and Mansfield Boulevard, east of the Shops at Wiregrass mall.

From the Times – click on picture for article

Understandably, Pasco officials are excited by the idea.  There is no doubt that having a large corporates office is a coup.  And, it is staying in the area, which is great.

On the other hand, it is quite the sprawling campus. (It would take quite a long time just to go to lunch off campus and come back.) Yes, it fits Pasco County development patterns, but it is another lost opportunity.

And it is also another example of why not much money should be spent on transit to Pasco.  The county shows no signs of really wanting development that could make transit effective. Their planning is essentially Hillsborough circa 1995.  That is their choice, and, until the change, we think Hillsborough should respect it and not spend transit money on Pasco related projects.


Rays

Your Rays news, here.


Meanwhile, In the Rest of the Country

There was news from Phoenix:

Valley Metro last week began construction on the 5.5-mile South Central light-rail extension in downtown Phoenix.

Crews began identifying underground utilities to prepare for extensive improvements, Valley Metro officials said in a press release.

You can get more details here and here.  Somehow they manage to develop and expand light rail and test autonomous vehicles at the same time.

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