Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Downtown Tampa: One step forward, one step back

Someday, somebody will have to explain my town to me.

Downtown Tampa has long had a chronic case of downtown St. Pete envy. We want so badly to be, if you can stand the Chamber of Commerce words, livable, walkable, vibrant and alive for residents, workers and visitors, day and night.

And we're trying. Look at our nearly-finished Riverwalk, our fabulous and artfully-lighted bridges, our rolling city park on the river. Downtown events actually draw crowds, like that thriving outdoor market at lunchtime on Fridays.

Oh, wait. That's canceled.

This is confounding no matter how downtown boosters try to explain the change. For four years, workers flocked to the Friday market for lunch and produce and jewelry and such. You saw a county commissioner buying honey, a judge eating crepes. You had music and food and interesting stuff to look at and buy.

Some restaurants complained about losing lunch business, but here's my unscientific observation on that: It is the culture of Tampa's downtown that people who work here often drive to Ybor City or Hyde Park for lunch. The market was a draw, at least, and a chance to showcase some great downtown restaurants. (We have French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Thai and more.)

But the Tampa Downtown Partnership says it has a better idea, which the organization credits to "market research" over restaurant complaints (Hmm): A market on Sundays (more on that in a minute) and an alternate plan for Fridays: Lunches from restaurants to eat in the park and — I am not making this up —Frisbees and Hula Hoops to play with.

Now, if you can promise us elected officials partaking in Hula Hooping, that would be worth the trip, but … really? Because I'm seeing more Friday car trips to Ybor.

This is how we do things here. We have a grocery store at the edge of downtown not far from offices and hotels. Hooray. But crossing the street to get to it is a death-defying experience. So much for walkable.

Oh, and did you hear the Whole Foods grocery store, with its hot food and salad bar take-away, is considering downtown St. Pete? Of course it is.

Tampa recently got reasons for some Charlotte envy, too. Sure, we were impressive in our handling of security and protesters at the Republican National Convention. But at the Democratic version that followed, we saw Charlotte's streets teeming with people who could be whisked around by light rail.

Downtown Tampa during the RNC was deader than Tombstone.

So why does a Friday market even matter? It's a small sign a city is interesting and alive, like rating a Trader Joe's or having an impressive show at the art museum.

The planned Sunday downtown market is (potentially) encouraging news. I hope it catches on, but here is a worry: They won't generally have prepared food, as in lunch-on-the-go, a big element of successful city markets I've been to. (Yes, St. Pete's Saturday market, I mean you.) Organizers say Sunday marketers can eat at downtown Tampa restaurants and cafe tables. Will they?

So Tampa gains a Sunday market I hope we are ready for and loses a vibrant Friday one that was a lot of fun for downtown workers. A step forward, a step back. It's the Tampa way.

Comments
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts today

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts today

High school students from around the Tampa Bay area are participating in the National School Walkout today commemorating the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 and calling for gun law reform.A large group of students from St. Petersburg High ...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

NEW YORK (AP) — The Swedish-born producer and DJ known as Avicii has been found dead in Oman. Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the 28-year-old DJ, born Tim Bergling, was in Muscat, Oman. "The family is devastated and we ask everyone to ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Man gets life sentence in Freedom High student’s 2015 shooting death

Man gets life sentence in Freedom High student’s 2015 shooting death

TAMPA — After David Brunson murdered an 18-year-old Freedom High School senior, he told a witness the victim was "just some ghetto kid nobody will miss."But people do miss Eion Gustitis.More than two years after Gustitis was shot in the head in a rem...
Updated: 1 hour ago
One injured, suspect in custody in Ocala school shooting

One injured, suspect in custody in Ocala school shooting

OCALA — One student shot another in the ankle at a Florida high school and the suspected shooter is in custody, authorities said Friday.The Marion County Sheriff’s Office reported that the shooting happened Friday morning at Forest High School, which...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

SAINT PETERSBURG — When describing the loss of defender David Najem, Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell and the player who will replace Najem chose the same word.Gutted.That settled over the Rowdies last weekend, one that was bad enough based o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Flight attendants say ‘appalling’ Southwest flight photo confirms it — you’re not paying attention to the safety demo

Flight attendants say ‘appalling’ Southwest flight photo confirms it — you’re not paying attention to the safety demo

Mario Nunez called it a "huge shaking my head moment" when the photo inside the cabin of Southwest Airlines flight 1380 appeared on his TV.The story was about a terrifying emergency landing after an engine exploded 20 minutes into a trip from New Yor...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Goodman: In America, truth is missing in action

It’s "Mueller Time," as the nation grows ever closer to a confrontation with the truth.Was collusion with the Russians an illusion? If not, who was involved, what was done, and when? Did it impact the 2016 campaign, the fate of Hillary Clinton and no...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Suspect in Gilchrist deputies’ slayings has Tampa Bay ties

Suspect in Gilchrist deputies’ slayings has Tampa Bay ties

The man identified as the suspect who fatally shot two Gilchrist County deputies in a restaurant Thursday afternoon before taking his own life has ties to the Tampa Bay area.Deputies say John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell — who was found dead outside ...
Updated: 2 hours ago