For Buckhorn’s big speech, a backdrop that’s all about renewal
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will give his annual state of the city speech inside the old Armature Works Building on the morning of March 25. As usual, he has chosen his setting to make a point.
“It’s similar to the message that we sent last year,” said Buckhorn, who delivered his 2013 address inside the vacant Kress department store in downtown Tampa. “Tampa’s got a great foundation. We’ve got a great history. … This is a signature building on a signature piece of property that, while it has seen tougher times, it’s got a much, much brighter future, and that’s very similar to Tampa.”
The red-brick warehouse, often known as the old trolley barn, is part of planned redevelopment of the area known as The Heights. Along with bringing about 1,900 units of multi-family housing to the neighboring property, developers Adam Harden and Chas Bruck have been working with the architect for the Oxford Exchange to renovate the trolley barn as an event space with restaurants and offices.
Located just north of Interstate 275, the warehouse is just around the bend in the Hillsborough River from two other big projects: the city’s $7.4 million reconstruction of its long-closed Water Works Park and Richard Gonzmart’s $4 million-plus transformation of the city’s old pumphouse into the Ulele Native-Inspired Food and Spirits.
Both projects originally had been targeted to open in the spring. Gonzmart is looking at May, and Buckhorn said Water Works Park, which will see its freshwater spring restored, likely will open in July.
“We had some environmental issues that were more extensive than we thought, but we fixed it and we’re back on track,” he said Tuesday.
Along with Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, the city plans to program activities at Water Works to energize the riverfront. And Buckhorn expects the investments in both the park and Ulele to create a destination in what is now a mostly empty space on the map.
“When people go down there and they see the waterfront and they see what (Gonzmart) has done and they see the park being completed and they see the spring flowing to the river, it will become a draw,” Buckhorn said. “I’m absolutely convinced of it.”
The speech, at 1910 N Ola Ave., is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and is open to the public. It also will be broadcast on the city’s television station (Ch. 615 on Bright House and Ch. 15 on Fios) and will be livestreamed at tampagov.net.