Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa plans to create an "Avenue of the Arts" on Zack Street downtown

DOWNTOWN — A row of neutral-colored office and federal buildings stand tall along Zack Street. But there's not much else.

Workers typically walk to streets elsewhere for lunch.

In a few years, city officials hope, Zack will be a lively thoroughfare where people stop and look around.

It may even be among downtown's main attractions.

Details are still being worked out, but the "Zack Street Avenue of the Arts" could feature rotating sculptures and street art on banners. Curbs and sidewalks will be smoothed out. Murals or engraved poetry could decorate sidewalks. For fun, a crossing signal might be installed that tells pedestrians to jump, hop or dance.

David Vaughn, the city's director of contract administration, hopes the project will be completed by spring 2011, before Mayor Pam Iorio leaves office. However, that's an ambitious goal, he said.

The transformation is in its beginning stages. The city's first step is to turn Zack into a two-way street with creatively designed crosswalks and angled parking spots.

Officials and downtown business owners want to go beyond the 9 to 5 crowd by making the area prettier and more practical for pedestrians.

"I've been working in downtown since the '70s and we never had to have playgrounds or bike racks," said Bob McDonaugh, a city urban and economic development manager.

Until now.

People now live in condos downtown, and 10 restaurants opened up in the past year. City Bike Tampa, a shop for cyclists, opened recently on E Cass Street.

Engineers haven't been chosen for the Zack project, so costs and other details are uncertain. The city may use capital investment funds to pay for some changes to the street, Vaughn said.

Potential designers and architects will meet Tuesday in City Council chambers to hear more about the project. The estimated payment to engineers for design and planning is $200,000.

The street, which stretches from Ashley Drive to Nebraska Avenue, is less than a mile long with seven historical structures nearby. The Tampa Union Station sits at the east end. The artsy avenue will guide residents and visitors to the Glazer Children's Museum and Tampa Museum of Art off N Ashley Drive. Both are scheduled for completion in 2010.

"Our responsibility is to make a palette so that people can bring what they want to it," said Robin Nigh, the city's manager of art programs.

The Zack project has been in the works since at least 2005. It was put on hold in 2007, however, when the Florida Supreme Court ruled Tampa needed voter approval before funding the project with loans and then repaying through property taxes. Officials don't know yet where all the money will come from but have decided against that approach.

City Council member Linda Saul-Sena expects better streets and landscaping to attract businesses. Then, people.

Downtown business owners also hope to benefit from the potential increase in pedestrians.

"They'll say, 'Oh, we'll meet you at Zack Street center of the arts and we'll figure out what we'll do from there,'" said Tara Schroeder, director of programming for Tampa Theatre, which sees a yearly audience of 140,000.

Indigo Coffee has served at the corner of E Twiggs Street and N Franklin Street for 16 months, a short walk from Zack, which Indigo president Jeff Darrey calls a "yawn." He welcomes any plan to attract walkers and bikers.

The shop's best weekend was during the Gasparilla Arts Festival.

"And that's artsy, but that attracts a very broad range of residents of Tampa Bay," Darrey said. Zack Street, he hopes, will bring a local, consistent crowd.

Ileana Morales can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.

Avenue of the Arts:

a timeline

The Avenue of the Arts project must go through a series of incremental steps before becoming reality. Here's an estimated timeline:

Aug. 13: Applications for engineers and landscape architects due.

September: A short list is made of about three potential groups.

October: Firms present to a committee of city officials.

Late October/early November: Selection, Mayor Pam Iorio's approval, fee negotiation.

January: About six months of designing begins.

Spring 2011: Officials hope project will be completed.

Source: David Vaughn, the city's director of contract administration

Tampa plans to create an "Avenue of the Arts" on Zack Street downtown 07/16/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 16, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning journal: Plans set for 25th anniversary celebration

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season Friday, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Anthony DeAngelo of the Tampa Bay Lightning poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
  2. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    While the Lightning is still trying to bolster its blueline via trade, it selected a big, right shot defenseman Cal Foote at No. 14 overall Friday in the NHL Draft.

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  3. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  4. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.

  5. The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey