Make us your home page

Bloomingdale throng serves Higginbotham a big box of angst

Of the 44 who addressed Al Higginbotham,
some were brutally blunt.

Of the 44 who addressed Al Higginbotham, some were brutally blunt.

BRANDON — County Commissioner Al Higginbotham made good on his promise Monday night to listen to a group of residents who oppose a planned big-box development next to their Bloomingdale neighborhoods. What he heard from the more than 400 people at the Brandon Recreation Center, and from 44 who publicly addressed him, was that they want action.

The residents understand that the site development process for a 43.5-acre plan including a big-box store, 261 residential units, restaurants and more is past the point of zoning and public input, but they don't accept it. One by one they told Higginbotham why the plan to bring this to an undeveloped plot of land next to the Bloomingdale Regional Library is bad.

"I thought it was a good exchange," Higginbotham said. "We are urging this developer to meet with the public, and will continue to encourage them to meet with the public and with the commission."

Calling the development "Al's Big Box" and "Al's Bloomingdale Walmart," they blamed him and Hillsborough county commissioners for allowing it to happen during a 2011 rezoning process that converted the land, originally zoned for big-box and residential use in 2003, to a mixed-use development.

At times, the speakers grew intense. One demanded that Higginbotham look him in the eye when he spoke to him. Another pulled out his wallet and offered the commissioner cash, insinuating that Higginbotham had been influenced by Redstone, the developer of the project.

Several said they would throw their support behind Higginbotham's opponent in the upcoming election. He represents the eastern part of the county but is running for a countywide commission seat in 2014. School Board member April Griffin and Tampa council member Mary Mulhern also have filed to run for the seat.

Residents from communities near Bloomingdale High School and the Campo Family YMCA took turns citing traffic, safety, environmental and economic apprehensions. Many offered potential legal remedies, and the organization behind the meeting, Coordinated Active Neighborhoods for Development Organization, or CAN-DO, distributed media kits to reporters with maps, news clippings and documents pertaining to the issue.

They even suggested the county buy the land for about $3.2 million and convert it to a park.

"This has been an interesting night," Higginbotham told the residents. "This isn't easy for me, but somebody has to come out here and start the dialogue. When I see something that is not right, I try to find a way to right it."

Higginbotham said Redstone has until August to submit its final detailed plans for the development.

Otherwise it will not be approved.

Times staff writer Caitlin Johnston contributed to this report. Eric Vician can be reached at

Bloomingdale throng serves Higginbotham a big box of angst 06/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 6:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Water Street Tampa unveils video showing downtown's transformation


    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  2. Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

    Working Life

    When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

    Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]
  3. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion


    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]
  4. Ford, Chinese partner look at possible electric car venture


    BEIJING — Ford Motor Co. and a Chinese automaker said Tuesday they are looking into setting up a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China.

    In this April 23, 2016 photo, attendees take smartphone photos at a promotional event for Ford Motor Company ahead of the Auto China car show in Beijing. Ford Motor Co. announced an agreement Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 with a Chinese partner to look into forming a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China. [AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein]
  5. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]