Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County to close downtown Tampa offices during the Republican National Convention

TAMPA — Dodging protesters, searching for parking spots and getting through security are no longer concerns for those planning to use county services during the Republican National Convention in August.

The Fred B. Karl County Center will be closed for two weeks, beginning Aug. 20 and reopening after Labor Day.

Though the downtown offices will be closed, the services will still be available at other county offices, said Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill.

"The idea is that, given the location of the County Center being adjacent to a secured zone for the Republican National Convention, I decided I didn't want to take a chance with people's safety," Merrill said.

Concerns about streets being blocked off and fences possibly being erected around the courthouse and the County Center to keep people such as rock-throwing vandals away fueled talk of closing some downtown government offices.

Every department housed in the building on Kennedy Boulevard will be relocated for the two-week period, Merrill said. The offices include those of the property appraiser, the tax collector, public works and more. About 1,000 employees will be affected.

"People need to know this is not a service disruption," Merrill said. "The offices are just being moved." More details on exact locations will be provided closer to the convention, he said.

The Hillsborough tax collector and the property appraiser have been planning to close their downtown operations during the convention for months.

"Our County Center is made of glass," said tax collector Doug Belden. "It's a no-brainer."

Staffers will be shifted to suburban branches or other centers. Some may work from home.

"Fortunately, we have the ability to get away from downtown and service the public as usual, and there will be no risk to the public or my employees," Belden said.

Tampa officials recently said they've made no decisions to close any city buildings downtown. The Hillsborough County courthouse plans to remain open, though trials won't be scheduled during the week of the Aug. 27-30 convention.

Up to 15,000 demonstrators are expected for the convention. Many could come for an Aug. 27 march organized by more than two dozen protest groups, including organized labor, student radicals and antiwar protesters.

But while police say only a tiny number of them are likely to try to damage buildings or disrupt the event, even a peaceful convention promises unprecedented traffic jams.

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at or (813) 661-2442.

Hillsborough County to close downtown Tampa offices during the Republican National Convention 03/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 10, 2012 9:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  2. Hurricane Maria's winds hit 175 mph as it aims at Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria barreled toward Puerto Rico on Tuesday night after wreaking widespread devastation on Dominica and leaving the small Caribbean island virtually incommunicado. …

    A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. Hillsborough School Board approves 2017-18 budget


    TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday approved a budget of $2.83 billion for the 2017-18 school year.

    Photo illustration. []
  4. All Eyes photo gallery: 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 79, collapses buildings in Mexico


    A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 79 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped. The quake came less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country's south, and it …

    Rescuers work on a collapsed building on Amsterdam Avenue in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck, Sept. 19, 2017. Dozens have been reported killed across the country, including 42 in the state of Morelos, close to the epicenter of the quake, and at least 20 buildings in Mexico City have collapsed. (Adriana Zehbrauskas/The New York Times) XNYT169
  5. Rays video tribute to ex-manager Joe Maddon upon return with Cubs


    Here is the Rays video tribute to former manager Joe Maddon, who returned to the Trop for the first time on Tuesday with his Cubs team: