Wednesday, June 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
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

Tesla chief Elon Musk said last week that the company’s layoffs of 9 percent of its workforce wouldn’t affect production as the all-electric automaker races to build thousands of new Model 3 sedans a week.But documents the company filed days later wi...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Updated: 8 hours ago
New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 33-year-old man was arrested Monday on a charge of sexual battery, accused of assaulting a 10-year-old girl.Jonathan Wells was booked into the Pasco County jail, where he was being held Tuesday without bail.The assault took place ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

House bill would detain families — togetherThe Republican House compromise bill on immigration would end the family separation issue at the border — but Democrats won’t support it. The bill mandates that the Department of Homeland Security hold any a...
Updated: 9 hours ago

WashingtonSenate approves $716B for 2019 military budgetThe U.S. Senate on Monday voted to give the military $716 billion for 2019, approving one of the biggest defense budgets in modern American history despite concerns from some economists and lawm...
Updated: 9 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 6:45: Cash said Smith will continue to play a lot, getting time in LF and RF, meaning something of a rotation system for rookie Johnny Field and veteran Carlos Gomez.UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, w...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Updated: 10 hours ago