Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Cuban sandwich tops council agenda, along with boutique hotel

TAMPA — The City Council has a little of everything on the menu today: honors for the humble Cuban sandwich, purchases for the Republican National Convention and a proposal to bring new life to the historic but long-vacant federal courthouse. Here's what to expect:

Tampa's own Cuban sandwich

The meeting starts at 9 a.m., but the most hyped vote of the day could come up anytime after 10.

That's when council members will consider a resolution to make the "Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich" the city's signature sandwich.

As proposed, the city would recognize a generally acknowledged long-standing Ybor City recipe as Tampa's own — Cuban bread, ham, mojo roast pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and three dill pickle slices, but no mayonnaise.

Not only that, but council members are scheduled to get a report from city attorneys on whether they can get a trademark for the Tampa version of the sandwich.

It's a recipe that has raised some eyebrows, especially in Miami, which has claims of its own on the Cuban.

"I just cannot think about the Cuban sandwich with salami, because I always say salami is either for pizza or for subs," Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said Wednesday on 970-WFLA.

Regalado even went so far as to say that "the Cuban sandwich came in a raft from Cuba."

"I beg to differ," responded City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin, who also was on the program. She said Tampa's version of the Cuban goes back more than 100 years to the immigrants who built Ybor City's cigar industry.

"If they were making Cuban sandwiches at the turn of the last century in Miami," she added, "it would be made by an alligator."

From old courthouse to boutique hotel

A proposed lease between the city and Tampa Hotel Partners, a development team led by a Memphis company, would clear the way for the renovation of the old federal courthouse on N Florida Avenue as a boutique hotel.

As proposed, construction would start Dec. 1 and end by May 31, 2014.

Under the 60-year lease, the hotel would pay rent of $1 a year for the first two years, $10,000 annually for years 3 through 30 and $15,000 a year for years 31 through 60.

For the first 20 years, the operator would be required to run the hotel on a par with or better than a three-star or three-diamond hotel as rated by AAA or another rating agency.

After that, the lease would allow some additional uses on the property, including offices, residences or a school.

Under no circumstances, though, could any part of the old courthouse be used for a pool room, dance hall, pawn shop, gambling den, adult book store, second-hand store, illegal massage parlor, beauty school, barber college, auction house, flea market or church.

Temporary fences for the RNC

Council members will be asked to authorize spending up to $290,000 on temporary fencing to go up around city and county buildings during the Republican National Convention, scheduled for Aug. 27-30.

The "Pro-Active Barricade" fences, made by Premier Global Production Co. of Nashville, were used at both national political conventions four years ago.

Officials aren't saying what the barricades are made of, how tall they are or which buildings could be enclosed. That decision will come after a detailed analysis of the risks to various pieces of critical infrastuture, Tampa police Assistant Chief John Bennett said.

Funds for the purchase would come from Tampa's $50 million federal grant for convention security. The company has quoted the city a price of $29 per foot. At that rate, $290,000 could buy up to 10,000 feet, or nearly two miles, of fence.

Cotton vs. polyester

It would be a nightmare for Tampa police to wear their usual dark navy blue uniforms — they're polyester, no less — during the convention, so the city is looking for something lighter.

Think khaki. Think cotton.

Patrick's Uniforms of Florida, which already has a contract to supply uniforms for city employees, would outfit a coalition of about 2,000 officers from Tampa and other agencies. The proposed cost is $516,200 and would be covered by the city's federal convention security grant.

Alcohol sales in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Sometime after 10:30 a.m., council members will hear a request from the city itself to grant a special use permit — once commonly known as a "wet zoning" — for the sale of alcoholic beverages at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

The idea to make it easier for both nonprofit and for-profit groups to bring programs to the park, which city officials want to be a center of activity.

Currently, only non-profit groups can apply for a temporary special permit to sell alcohol at events in the park, and officials say the process is expensive and time-consuming.

Having the city hold its own zoning approval could make it easier for groups to bring concerts and other events to Curtis Hixon.

"It's a mission for us to have that park be our downtown special event park, and we want to have events there all the time," said Santiago Corrada, the city's chief of staff.

If approved, the proposal would allow the sale of beer, wine and liquor, but only at the park, in Kiley Garden and on the Riverwalk. And the drinks would have to be consumed on-site.

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