TAMPA — A plan to spur riverfront development on a prime 12-acre site in West Tampa moved ahead Thursday when the Tampa City Council unanimously voted to buy two pieces of property several miles away to relocate utility trucks.
The trucks have been kept at 2609 N Rome Ave., two blocks south of W Columbus Drive and a block from the Hillsborough River. City Hall will eventually market that site to developers as part of a larger, 120-acre redevelopment called West River. The development will ultimately hold 1,500 new residential units mixed with stores and trails along the river leading to Riverwalk and other waterside amenities.
As part of the plan, council members agreed to pay more than $1.1 million for two properties along N 40th Street that will be used for the utility trucks.
But before voting to approve the purchases, some council members raised concerns.
Council member Frank Reddick wanted to know about the increase in heavy equipment traffic on 40th Street.
"I pass there every day, every morning, and I don't live too far from it," he said. "If you move the facility over there, how many trucks would be stationed?"
Water department officials said a fleet of about 150 vehicles, including 40 heavy trucks, would be kept at the site. It is already zoned for heavy commercial use and now houses a truck repair facility.
Council Chairman Charlie Miranda asked what would happen to the N Rome Avenue land and whether the city would make a profit selling it for development.
The city intends to make some money selling the Rome Avenue site and its redevelopment should generate $1 million a year in property taxes, said Bob McDonaugh, administrator of economic opportunity.
Before that, it will lay out more than $1.1 million acquiring the properties along N 40th Street.
The city will spend $220,000 for seven-tenths of an acre owned by a land trust whose sole trustee is Norma J. Padron. The property has an appraised value of $230,000.
It also is paying $941,688 for 1.4 acres owned by Tampa Bay Holdings LLC, whose officers are Ronald and Kristie Horton. Two appraisals commissioned by the city put the property's value at $550,000 and $585,200. Mayor Bob Buckhorn said this week that the purchase price was driven up because there's an existing business that needs to be moved.
Funds for the new properties are coming from an enterprise fund held by the city's water and wastewater departments. Overall, the cost of moving the water and wastewater operations from Rome Avenue is expected to be at least $17 million. Council members Yvonne Yolie Capin and Mary Mulhern were absent from Thursday's meeting. The council asked for a staff report about the project on Jan. 8.
In other business, city officials said they are whittling down next year's budget shortfall, which Mayor Bob Buckhorn had previously estimated at $10 million to $15 million. Now, the shortfall is down to $8.4 million, city chief financial officer Sonya Little said. The shortfall was trimmed by finding additional revenues and savings.
Council members also voted to release any claim the city may have to an easement and right of way on Harbour Island, where a proposed skywalk is planned near 302 and 402 Knights Run Ave.
Also, a public meeting was announced to discuss a proposed brownfield area designation. The 1.9-acre site is east of Meridan Avenue in the Channelside Community Redevelopment Area. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. July 8 in the courtyard at Grand Central at Kennedy, 1120 E Kennedy Blvd.
Elisabeth Parker can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3431.