Shocker: Tampa Bay shut out of "Great Places in America" awards
The American Planning Association announced its 15 great places for 2015 and not a single neighborhood, street or public space in Tampa Bay made the list.
Winners this year included Miami's Wynwood neighborhood, which can be found north of downtown Miami. During the 1920s, this was where Miami's garment district was, ranking second only to New York City in fashion production. By the 1980s, businesses moved out. It redeveloped in the late 1990s and early 2000s, however. Industrial spaces were transformed into studios, galleries, bars, restaurants and other creative spaces. Recent enhancements include smart-growth practices, four bike-share stations and overall walkability.
Other neighborhoods on APA's 2015 great neighborhood list include Phoenix's Roosevelt Row, Kansas City, MO's Crossroads Arts District and downtown Plano, Tx.
Great streets include Jacksonville's Laura Street, which stretches from Hemming Park's northeastern corner at West Duval Street to the Jacksonville Landing ending at East Independent Drive. "Pedestrians were central to the planning and development of Laura Street, which features demarcated crosswalks that enhance the safety and accessibility of the street,' the APA states. "Visitors can hop off the Skyway automated monorail train at Hemming Park, the anchor of the northern secion of Laura Street, and participate in daily events, dine al fresco, or just take in the sites and public art."
Other great streets were found in Los Angeles, Asheville, NC., Dayton, OH., and McMinnville, Ore.
San Diego, Boulder, CO., Chicago, Flint, Michigan, Santa Fe, NM., and Houston were all recognized for having great public spaces.
But better luck next year, right?
Don't bet on it. Although Tampa has a mayor in Bob Buckhorn who says stuff like this, there's still no discernible sign that there's been any concerted effort to make any of its streets more walkable. It at least doesn't feel any more walkable.
Take downtown Tampa. The above photo was taken Thursday along Ashley Drive, which is what should be downtown's "gateway" street. Pedestrians were out of luck if they were trying to cross Ashley at E. Tyler Street. For those of us who did brave the adventure, we had to compete with cars veering into the only place pedestrians could stand, making it a real danger zone.
A mother pushing her child in a stroller ran up to me and a colleague as we crossed Ashley. "Safety in numbers," she said. We then exchanged obvious remarks about the deplorable walking conditions.
Unfortunately, this wasn't a new pedestrian experience in Tampa's downtown, which by now should be well on its way to matching what other cities are doing to make its streets walkable.
It's not. It's not even close.