TAMPA — A controversial apartment project on S Howard Avenue went down to defeat late Thursday after a City Council hearing packed by a coalition of South Tampa neighborhood groups.
"The unity I've seen here tonight is very rare — very, very, very rare," council Chairman Charlie Miranda said before the council's unanimous vote.
Residents had argued that the 212-apartment SoHo Flats complex would exacerbate congestion on Howard Avenue.
"This is a size 16 foot trying to shove itself into a size 8 shoe," said Marylou Bailey, a board member of the Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.
Developers had asked the city to vacate part of S Eleta Street north of W Morrison Avenue so they could build part of the project on top of the existing street.
They also asked for city waivers to, among other things, allow them to reduce the required buffer and to provide less than a third of the green space that normally would be required.
Unacceptable, said many in the overflow crowd.
"A giant concrete monstrosity with a little ribbon of grass used to collect cigarette butts on a Friday night," said Scott Weber, who spoke on behalf of New Suburb Beautiful. "It's not in keeping with the neighborhood."
SoHo Flats had been proposed for a mostly vacant strip center on S Howard Avenue, north of W Morrison Avenue, where Joe Redner owned Xtreme Total Health & Fitness.
Anthony Everett, Central Florida partner for project applicant Pollack Shores Real Estate Group, said he tried to design SoHo Flats to fit into the neighborhood with minimum impact.
"We're trying to do something here that enhances Howard Avenue and that we all will be proud of," he said.