TAMPA — The Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation is nearly halfway to its fundraising goal for its project to renovate the historic Fort Homer Hesterly Armory as a multi-use community center.
The federation has commitments for more than $9 million of its $20 million goal, with the biggest pledges coming from Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer, who committed $4 million, and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's family, which pledged $1.5 million.
Donors giving $50,000 or more also include the Golding-Scher family, the Rosenblatt-Linsky family, Frederick and Lynne Merriam, the Gould family, Cliff and Linda Levy, Jonathan and Karen Levy, Jack Ross, Clinical Research of West Florida and the Wuliger family and foundation, according to the federation.
Two years ago, the JCC announced it was securing a 99-year lease with an option to buy the 83,500-square-foot armory building, vacant since 2004, and half of the 10-acre parcel.
Its plans include a 100,000-plus-square-foot community center with a preschool, aquatics center, fitness facility, event center, Young People's Discovery Center, art center, health and wellness center and multipurpose space.
Last year, the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places, courtesy of its history serving as a camp site for Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, a speech venue for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy and a concert hall for everyone from Elvis Presley to the Ramones.
On Thursday, the County Commission is scheduled to consider whether to grant the JCC $151,200 to repair and restore the armory's roof. The JCC would have to repay the grant if it transfers the property to a new owner without the county's consent within five years.