RIVERVIEW — After months of complaints about the Regent's public availability, the Riverview events center on Wednesday announced unprecedented access and new community outreach efforts.
"We want to be more welcoming, more available, have more activity," said Kristen Kerr, executive director of the Regent.
The new community offerings include:
• Open house tours on the first Thursday of every month, starting in November.
• For nonprofits, discounted, flat-rate rentals of the multipurpose room on some weekdays at $150 for four hours.
• Teach-your-talent nights, where community members can hold 90-minute demonstrations on the last Tuesday of every month to teach or display their talents.
• Monthly art exhibits starting in January.
Kerr said she hopes the changes will bring more bustle to the building while encouraging residents to create a community hub.
"Where this is the skeleton, the community has to fill it in," she said.
In recent months, local officials and residents have criticized the Regent for its price tag — nearly $7 million in local, state and federal money — and lack of availability to community groups.
The Brandon Community Advantage Center, which operates the event space, has undergone several audits.
The board has agreed to reimburse the county and Hillsborough Community College, which owns the building, for some questionable expenses.
And the Hillsborough County Commission recently called for a state audit of the Regent's construction and pledged to revise its process for providing county funds to nonprofits.
County Commissioner Al Higginbotham hadn't seen the Regent's plan for more community outreach Wednesday, but praised the ideas.
"Sounds like they're taking steps in the right direction," he said. "There's still a long way to go."
Times staff writer Shelley Rossetter contributed to this report. Stephanie Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2443.