Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Riverwalk tower developers offer to delay construction to ease Straz Center concerns

TAMPA — The developers of a proposed 36-story riverfront apartment tower have offered to delay construction until the neighboring David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts finishes its Broadway series.

The offer is the latest in a series of changes that developers, with City Hall's backing, have made in an effort to win support for the development, Residences at the Riverwalk.

Developers had proposed to realign the streets by Sept. 30, a target that struck Straz administrators as optimistic, unrealistic and potentially disastrous.

The Broadway series runs November to May and will include The Book of Mormon, best new musical Tony winner Once, and the revivals of two high-profile musicals — Evita and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. It accounts for 85 percent of the Straz Center's programming revenue.

In an email to Straz Center president Judith Lisi, developer Phillip A. Smith said the center has been clear about the potential for work to disrupt the start of its performance season.

"We believe that this proposal alleviates those potential conflicts" and "gives us all a little room to breathe," Smith said.

The board of trustees at the Straz Center is scheduled to get an update on the project Monday. Lisi said the proposed change in timing addresses "a primary urgent concern."

"The question of the tower itself is another matter," Lisi said. Critics have said its sheer size would overwhelm everything around it, which is "why we're going to bring this to the board."

As proposed, the tower would include 380 apartments, a 620-space garage and 10,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. It is headed for a City Council vote Aug. 8.

The city has agreed to sell Smith and Greg Minder an acre of land for $4 million, at least twice its appraised value. Money from the sale would be used to reconfigure Cass and Tyler streets as two-way streets with slower-moving traffic.

City officials think a lot of fast-moving cars now going west on Tyler to go over the Cass Street bridge would end up on Cass. That would make driving and walking around the Straz Center easier and safer, they say.

Along with changing their work schedule, developers have offered to:

• Have the Beck Group, a member of the project's development team, buy insurance "to cover claims against business interruption" should construction conflict with Straz Center shows.

• Give the Straz Center an unrestricted gift of $1 million.

• Keep the elevated pedestrian bridge that connects the William F. Poe Parking Garage to the John F. Germany Public Library and the Straz Center.

After first proposing to end the walkway at their parking garage, developers are now agreeing to connect the bridge to the second floor of the library at its current location. The bridge to the Straz Center would be taken down and rebuilt, connecting to the lobby at Maestro's Restaurant.

Preserving the pedestrian bridge's access was a key concern not only for the Straz Center but for the Hillsborough County Public Library Board, board chairman Bob Argus said.

Meanwhile, the SkyPoint Condominum Association's board voted to authorize any board member to say that the board favors more housing downtown but opposes the location of the Residences at the Riverwalk.

"We're eager to have more residents downtown," SkyPoint board member Lew Sibert said, but he described this project as a size-16 foot in a size-8 shoe.

The Uptown Council — an association of more than 100 downtown residents, business owners and commercial and residential real estate owners — voted to support the project.

"We see the restoration of downtown Tampa's original street grid at the developer's expense as a great example of private investment that will continue improving the pedestrian experience in our neighborhood," council treasurer Vinny Tafuro said in an email to the Times.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who supports the project, said developers have worked to address every objection raised by the Straz Center and library board.

"I don't know how much more you could ask a developer to do," he said.

Comments
Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.TAMPA’S BERKELEY PREP GRADS LEAD REVOLT AGAINST ONE OF THEIR OWN: KIRSTJEN NIELSENWhen Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen went on national television Monday and dismissed criticism o...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Clearwater’s Clegg Insurance Group buys Advanced Insurance Brokerage

Clearwater’s Clegg Insurance Group buys Advanced Insurance Brokerage

CLEARWATER - Clegg Insurance Group of Clearwater announced on Wednesday it has bought Brandon-based Advanced Insurance Brokerage.The merger creates a firm with more than 2,000 customers and more than $10 million in annual premiums. Terms were not dis...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

For the first time in almost two decades, Florida and Florida State will open the men's basketball season against each other.The Seminoles will host UF on Nov. 6, both programs announced Wednesday morning. FSU has won four in a row in the series."Any...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s is weighing another round of hefty rate hikes.Staffers with the state-run insurer of last resort have proposed raising the average rates for homeowners by 7.9 percent — just under the legislative cap of 10 percent ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay homes sales while prices keep rising

A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay homes sales while prices keep rising

Tampa Bay’s two largest counties showed anemic home sales in May as prices continued to rise due to a tight supply.In Pinellas, sales of single-family home plunged nearly 12 percent from the previous May, the second-worst showing in a year. Prices, t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Thieves have made off with at least five guns after breaking into unlocked vehicles in recent days, police said Wednesday morning.Over the past three days, a group of people have been breaking into unlocked vehicles across the city. Clea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying

Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying

SAFETY HARBOR — Mayor Joe Ayoub put forth a resolution Monday evening asking the City Commission to condemn cyberbullying.The result? The meeting devolved into shouting and whispering from the crowd and people storming out of chambers.The mayor’s res...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco Sheriff: Hudson man faces sexual battery charges

Pasco Sheriff: Hudson man faces sexual battery charges

HUDSON — A 33-year-old man is facing charges of sexual battery and rape after Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies said he assaulted a 14-year-old girl.Christopher Hall, who was 31 at the time of the incident, forced the victim into a bathroom, took off h...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Times sports columnist Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to discuss Kevin Kiermaier's return to the Rays, whether Victor Hedman should win the Norris Trophy for the NHL's best defenseman, Bucs expectations for this season and Barry Trotz's next c...
Updated: 1 hour ago