Make us your home page
Instagram

Tampa Downtown Partnership head pleased with her area's growth, changes

Tampa Downtown Partnership president Christine Burdick says her group and the Chamber of Commerce are alike, but deal with different geographic areas.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Tampa Downtown Partnership president Christine Burdick says her group and the Chamber of Commerce are alike, but deal with different geographic areas.

Tampa's downtown has endured its share of ups and downs. From a dearth of residential housing to a condo bubble; from vacant north side storefronts to upscale hotels rising beside the city's convention center.

Chicago native Christine Burdick, voice of the business community as president of the Tampa Downtown Partnership for nearly nine years, says it's an exciting time for the city's center.

She recently talked with the Times about the impact of a future medical training facility, ideas for the convention center and, maybe, a downtown location for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium.

What's the difference between the partnership and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce?

We provide similar opportunities in a smaller geographic area for business people to get to know each other. We have a 25-year history of advocacy and convening public meetings on appropriate issues: land use, development regulation, traffic and parking issues. We manage $1.4 million a year raised from assessments in the downtown special services district. That pays for the downtown clean teams and guides, the website, guide books and transportation maps.

How many people live in downtown? Are those condo towers still mostly empty?

About 4,500 is our understanding. That doesn't include Harbour Island. We hear all the buildings have a minimum of 75 percent occupancy: Skypoint, Element, Grand Central, Seaport Square. Things are right-priced, there are values to be had. There's a determination to fill them one way or another.

What can be done to attract more business at the Tampa Convention Center?

The new management needs to look at un-mined opportunities. The space can be utilized differently to get more of the boutique uses, not the giant expositions.

You must be thrilled that the Tampa Bay Rays insisted their search for a new stadium site include Hillsborough. Would downtown Tampa be the best location?

The most important thing is that we keep the team in the region. They're good friends and (partnership) members with their retail store downtown. We know that a big share of their corporate season ticket base — or potential base — is over here. If it plays out that downtown Tampa is a good location for them and the region works together, we can definitely have a role.

Is there enough room for a stadium and all the necessary parking on downtown?

It's tight. But all those issues could be worked out. It's plausible.

What are the most important issues for downtown businesses in the Tampa mayoral election tomorrow?

There are three issues we've sought opinions on (from candidates). Transportation … the next light rail proposal. Parking problems. The bonds for the Ybor garage, the south regional garage and Fort Brooke expansion that are now $6 million in the red. And the urban development process. It's still based on a suburban model, and sometimes we miss development opportunities.

What's the most promising new downtown commercial project in the works?

USF's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, or CAMLS. It will bring surgeons and professionals from around the world. There's been investment by an Israeli-American company. USF Health already has some defense contracts. Long-term, it could generate the need for a new hotel.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8128.

Tampa Downtown Partnership head pleased with her area's growth, changes 02/27/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 27, 2011 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]