Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Launch of Tampa bike share program delayed until August

TAMPA — The launch of Tampa's Coast Bike Share program is postponed until mid August.

That's almost a year behind Mayor Bob Buckhorn's original schedule for the program, designed to bring 300 rental bikes to downtown streets.

In a recent letter to the city, program CEO Josh Squire said supplier Social Bicycles has hit a delay in the manufacture of an upgraded electronic package for the Tampa bike fleet.

And the electronics are key. Once Coast is launched, riders will use a mobile app and a credit card to reserve a bike or use the bike's built-in keypad to pick one up from a Coast kiosk.

Coast users can buy memberships by the day, month or year. An onboard computer will time their ride, and riders will get an hour of riding time per day as part of their memberships.

Each additional half-hour of riding time will cost $2.50, up to $25.

Organizers also are talking to a "national bank" about sponsoring Coast Bikes, and Squire has told the city that having time to work on that would be helpful, too. On Thursday, the City Council signed off on Coast Bike's request to move the launch date.

Coast is a partnership between CycleHop of Miami Beach and Social Bicycles of New York City. The city's 10-year contract with the partnership does not require taxpayers to subsidize the program.

AMC theater's alcohol request approved

The council also gave final approval to a request from the AMC West Shore 14 movie theater to sell beer, wine and liquor.

To prevent underage drinking and abuse, AMC says it will sell to ticketed guests only, card everyone, use bartenders 21 or older, stick to standard recipes for mixed drinks, serve alcohol in distinctive cups and train employees for safe alcohol service. Moviegoers will not be allowed to take their drinks off AMC's premises.

AMC already sells alcohol at its Regency 20 in Brandon, Veterans 24 in northwestern Hillsborough County and Woodlands Square 20 in Oldsmar.

Council okays business incentives

The council also approved offering up to $180,000 to a Tampa-based technology company planning to add 100 new high-playing IT jobs by the end of 2018.

The name of the company — referred to in briefing materials as "Project Topaz" — was being kept confidential under a business development exemption to Florida's public records law.

As proposed, the company would commit to paying the new hires an average of $84,892, or twice Florida's average annual wage, and would spend $45.2 million on a new office.

In exchange, the state would kick in another $800,000, with $20,000 coming from Hillsborough County.

Another U.S. city is also vying for the expansion, as are two cities outside the United States, according to the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

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