Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa starts work on master plan to guide downtown growth

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn launched a yearlong effort Monday to write a master plan for downtown with the help of residents, neighborhoods and business owners.

"This is a plan that's driven from the grass roots up," Buckhorn said. "We're going to go out and talk to people about what they want their future to look like."

Starting Wednesday night, the city will hold a series of public meetings to give residents and others a chance to talk about downtown — what stores they want, where they work, how they get around, what they want to do for fun.

The city also plans to engage residents through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and any other of social media it can think of.

While Tampa has done big projects like Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the Tampa Museum of Art in recent years, Buckhorn said the city still needs an all-encompassing plan to tie everything into a vision for the future.

What he wants is "a blueprint for the development of this community for the next 25 years" — something that will embody design guidelines, amenities and connections between downtown and areas like Ybor City, the Channel District, Tampa Heights and North Hyde Park.

To help with the $1.43 million project — known as InVision Tampa — the city has hired AECOM, a Fortune 500 consulting firm that has worked on similar projects from London to Hong Kong to San Francisco.

Most of the money for InVision Tampa comes from a $1.18 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant.

The money had been earmarked to do a corridor study along Nebraska Avenue in anticipation of high-speed rail coming to Tampa. But after Gov. Rick Scott killed high-speed rail, the city received HUD's permission to study an area up to 2 miles from downtown.

The InVision Tampa study area now stretches from downtown to Ybor City on the east, Armenia Avenue on the west, and north along Nebraska Avenue to Hillsborough Avenue.

The work also will cover land use, transportation and other factors that could play a role in whether a Major League Baseball stadium could ever be built downtown, an idea Buckhorn likes.

But the mayor said a stadium won't be the main focus of the study, which "will not specifically identify a site."

Buckhorn described the InVision Tampa work as one part of a three-part strategy, with the other two parts coming from the nonprofit Urban Land Institute, based in Washington, D.C.

The institute sent panels of experts to Tampa in October and February to look at development opportunities in downtown generally and along the Hillsborough River in particular.

Ultimately, all three studies will be layered together to give the city its most comprehensive downtown plan ever, Buckhorn said.

The second part of InVision Tampa will look at transit, including light rail and bus rapid transit, but not financing. Buckhorn does say he supports a move to allow big cities like Tampa to hold their own referendums on building mass transit.

In 2010, Hillsborough County voters rejected a proposed sales tax increase to pay for transit, although a majority of voters in the city of Tampa supported it.

If cities could hold their own referendums, then Buckhorn said he thinks Tampa and St. Petersburg both might take steps to begin to connect major destinations — their downtowns, Tampa International Airport, the University of South Florida — with mass transit. And while a city referendum might not fund a system fully, he believes President Barack Obama's administration is interested in increasing federal funding for such projects.

Looking at mass transit is necessary, Buckhorn said, because smart young professionals who move to Tampa likely will work at the University of South Florida or the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, but they'll want to live downtown.

"We need to find a way to make that happen," he said. "So figuring out how those rail corridors connect to our downtown and our urban core is equally as important."

If you go

The InVision Tampa planning process for downtown will hold a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Tampa. For information, visit

Tampa starts work on master plan to guide downtown growth 04/09/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 9, 2012 9:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  2. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  3. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  4. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 26-July 2.


    Vans Warped Tour: The festival returns Saturday to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, featuring shock-metal icons Gwar, hardcore punks Sick Of It All, ska band Save Ferris and indie-pop group Never Shout Never ($39.50-$49.50). vanswarpedtour. …

    Crowd for the Motionless in White band at the 2014 Vans Warped Tour at Vinoy Park, Friday, July 25, 2014.  CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times