Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For a downtown Tampa with a soul, experts recommend a turn away from the car culture

TAMPA — To create a downtown with a soul, Tampa needs more urban housing, more pedestrians, better transit and less parking.

Those are among the conclusions of a panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit education and research group based in Washington, D.C.

This week, the panel fanned out across Tampa's urban core to talk to officials, developers, merchants, lawyers and residents.

On Friday, they shared their thoughts with about 150 locals, including one who asked how Tampa compares to other cities.

"The opportunities," longtime developer Byron Koste said, "are unbelievable."

Downtown Tampa has beauty and charm, he said, but that's not what visitors see coming in off the interstate.

"I had to say, 'What the?' and then got to the 'Oh my,' " said Koste, executive director emeritus of the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business.

So Koste and his colleagues said the city should make immediate cosmetic improvements: Put in better landscaping, especially at entry ways to downtown. Got an ugly, empty lot? Get creative. Bring in a farmers market.

There's more:

• Finish the Riverwalk, and allow food carts and restaurants near the Hillsborough River.

• Steer new housing toward three areas: Tampa Heights, the area around the Marion Street Transit Station and a redevelopment of the North Boulevard Homes public housing complex.

• Re-engineer roads like Ashley Drive to be less daunting to pedestrians. Think fewer lanes, more trees and lower speed limits.

• Ban new private parking lots as well as parking lots on street corners, convert some existing lots to parks or housing and increase on-street parking.

• Improve transit. Look at expanding the TECO trolley up to Tampa Heights and west of the Hillsborough River. Consider changes, like a fare-free zone, to make bus transit more attractive.

If the city comes together with a clear, shared vision, the panelists said the consensus can make it easier to start a business or get a building permit.

And to pay for these efforts, they floated various ideas: use federal community development block grants, tweak city parking operations to generate new revenue, use city-owned land or take advantage of federal income tax credits that reward companies for investing in redevelopment.

Asked about the best spot for a new downtown stadium, panelists said that's something the community should decide.

Still, they offered a few guidelines: Make it accessible. Think about transit. Share parking with other uses, because nothing looks worse than a stadium surrounded by acres of parking.

Mostly, the crowd like what it heard.

"I think you've done a great job of assessing where we need to put our development efforts," said Tom Keating, president of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the report gives the city a "road map" for its next step: using a $1.18 million federal grant to create a master plan for downtown and areas like Ybor City, the Channel District and Tampa Heights.

"Now," he said, "we need to take this and go execute it."

For a downtown Tampa with a soul, experts recommend a turn away from the car culture 10/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign


    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home


    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence


    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”