At the June 2nd StimULI Breakfast, attendees heard about the latest plans for Tampa’s West River area from Bob McDonaugh, the Economic Opportunity Administrator for the City of Tampa and Leroy Moore, the Chief Operating Officer for the Tampa Housing Authority. The session was moderated by Christine Burdick, the President of Tampa’s Downtown Partnership and ULI Tampa Bay’s Chair of Mission Advancement.
The West River neighborhood is located on over 1.3 miles of riverfront immediately west of Downtown Tampa. The Tampa Housing Authority, City of Tampa and a broad representation of residents, business owners, community leaders and governmental agencies envision a renewed West Tampa, including new mixed use / mixed income housing and new connections to the river.
The framework for this vision was delineated through years of collaborative discussion, including community visioning with the Urban Land Institute, Rose Fellowship and the City of Tampa’s InVision Plan.
The City is investing about $500 million in the West River area and is confident about the potential for positive returns. McDonaugh said that in this area, “every dollar is a dollar won”, as the City’s property has been off the tax rolls for years.
Tampa’s recent investment in Julian B Lane Riverfront Park is central to reviving this area and creating recreational opportunities for residents.
The planning process for the InVision Plan, which began in 2011, spans from downtown to Ybor City on the east, Armenia Avenue on the west and north along historic Nebraska Avenue to Hillsborough Avenue. “People have bought into it”, Bob McDonaugh said, describing the vision of a City better connected to the Hillsborough River and the creation of an active downtown that keeps and attracts talent.
Leroy Moore described walking along the west side of the Hillsborough River for the first time as part of a ULI planning exercise. He said most people don’t realize that a sidewalk runs along most of the length of the river, but is currently off limits. In the future, a pedestrian walkway is envisioned between Bayshore Boulevard and Columbus Drive.
The Housing Authority also has big plans for the area and is underway. Moore said that “the market is doing what we hoped it would do”. An RFQ was released last month in search of a development partner, who will be announced in the next two months.
Moore said that the redevelopment of North Boulevard Homes and the development at Encore are huge opportunities for the Housing Authority to make an impact on both sides of the river.
Addressing concerns about the relocation of current residents, Moore said that all units are being replaced and an additional 30% more are being added. The project will also add 1500 market rate units.
The next StimULI breakfast is on Thursday, August 4th.