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After a century in Ybor, empty building goes green

Rudy Arnauts, left, Bryan Roberts, center, and Steve Francois work using a light being powered by a vegetable oil-fueled generator in Ybor City.

Luis Santana/tbt*

Rudy Arnauts, left, Bryan Roberts, center, and Steve Francois work using a light being powered by a vegetable oil-fueled generator in Ybor City.

A hundred years ago, it served as a horse stable for Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Most recently, it housed a micro-brewery.

Today, the 103-year-old building in Ybor City is reinventing itself again, this time as a model for sustainable development.

Three partners and a handful of volunteers are transforming the former home of the Tampa Bay Brewing Company into a self-sufficient building from roof to floor.

Dubbed Project 3.0, the venture aims to show that green construction doesn't have to start from scratch. Anyone can take an existing structure and make it eco-friendly.

Guiding the project are developer Rudy Arnauts, events promoter and musician Steve Francois and Bryan Roberts, a contractor with Eco-Tech Construction. Roberts is also building Florida's first Earthship, a fully sustainable house, in Manatee County.

The trio teamed with strip-club king Joe Redner, who bought the building at 1812 N 15th St. after the brew company moved to Centro Ybor in late 2006. They started work on the two-story brick structure a few months ago.

The goal is to create a zero-energy building that produces as much power as it consumes. Water to flush toilets will come from rainwater collected in cisterns. Solar energy will generate electricity.

Renovations will range from double-paned windows to LED lighting and a concrete floor made from recycled ash. A rooftop garden will reflect heat and grow vegetables for neighboring restaurants.

The project relies on local business and groups to donate labor and materials. Organizers have no major bankrollers.

"We're trying to show that it doesn't have to cost a lot, and it's something that's doable,'' Roberts said.

Once completed this summer, the group plans to turn the building into workspace for artists and small businesses. They also hope to spark changes in city code to encourage more eco-friendly building practices.

Along the way, organizers are documenting the process on the Web at thecampus.tv. Parties and informational workshops seek to generate interest from diverse segments of the community, not just greenies.

"At the end of the day, we'll have a functioning piece of real estate that's sustainable and in a great location,'' Arnauts said.

Party for change

Project 3.0 is sponsoring Hope, Change, Action, An Art Inauguration at 9 p.m. today at Limelight Nightclub, 1909 N 15th St. in Ybor City. The event, part of Black History Month, will feature art of people in history who have made a difference. Admission is $10, which includes drinks by Skyy Vodka. thecampus.tv.

After a century in Ybor, empty building goes green 02/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 26, 2009 12:10pm]

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