Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tower developers tweak plans to address Straz Center concerns

The Residences at the Riverwalk plans call for 380 apartments, a 620-space garage and 10,000 square feet of first-floor shops and restaurants near the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

City of Tampa

The Residences at the Riverwalk plans call for 380 apartments, a 620-space garage and 10,000 square feet of first-floor shops and restaurants near the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

TAMPA — Developers of a proposed 36-story riverfront tower have reworked their plans to address concerns raised by the nearby David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

Now, says Mayor Bob Buckhorn, "basically everything that the Straz had wanted, the developers have agreed to."

Whether Straz Center leaders agree with Buckhorn could soon become clear. The center's executive committee is scheduled to meet today. Trustees get a project update July 15.

Developer Phillip Smith outlined several tweaks to plans for the apartment high-rise in a June 4 letter to Straz Center president Judith Lisi.

"We feel confident that we have addressed the needs of the Straz as they have been communicated to us," he wrote.

Elevated walkway

Developers now say they would keep the elevated pedestrian bridge connecting the William F. Poe Parking Garage to the John F. Germany Public Library and the Straz Center.

Originally, they had proposed to end the walkway at their parking garage. Library and theater patrons coming from the Poe garage would have had to go down to the ground floor to continue on to their destinations — a plan neither group liked.

In the case of the Straz, the pedestrian bridge would be taken down and rebuilt, connecting to the existing lobby at Maestro's Restaurant.


Developers say their plan aims to do two things with "minimal disruption" to the Straz Center:

• Extend Tyler Street to connect with the center's arrival plaza, which would be expanded. (As part of the project, both Tyler and Cass streets will be reconfigured into what officials say would be safer two-way streets.)

• Demolish the existing elevated walkway to the center — to be rebuilt later — and create an interim, covered walkway and ramp to provide safe pedestrian access during construction.

Still, Straz Center administrators worry.

Developers have presented a plan to begin work on the relevant street alignment July 15 and finish by Sept. 30 so the center could conduct business. (Its Broadway series runs November to May.)

But it's already June, so the Straz Center "is still concerned ... that the construction schedule appears to be optimistically unrealistic," according to an email attachment Lisi sent this month to the center's trustees.


The Straz Center also worries about losing money if unforeseen construction problems disrupt its season.

Smith responded that the Beck Group, which is on the development team, "has committed to providing proof of insurance to cover claims against business interruption" should construction "conflict with the performance operations of the Straz."

Moreover, the city has "promised to complete improvements if the developer failed to complete them," according to a June 14 letter to Lisi from Tampa's top development official, Bob McDonaugh.

Gift to Straz Center

Developers promise to give the center $1 million. While not new, the size of the gift had not been disclosed publicly before.

The changes to the project's plans follow a City Council decision to delay its vote on the tower until Aug. 8. After that decision, Buckhorn met with developers and Straz Center leaders to discuss their concerns.

Buckhorn says the project would mean safer roads for the city and a better arrival plaza with "great value" for the center.

"The improvements that will be made will not be made otherwise," he says, "and I think most of the concerns have been accommodated at the expense of the developers. So I'm hopeful."

. fast facts

Residences at the Riverwalk

The developers: Phillip A. Smith and Greg Minder

The project: 380 apartments, 620-space garage, 10,000 square feet of first-floor shops and restaurants

The land: An acre the city of Tampa has agreed to sell for $4 million (twice its appraised value). Money from the sale will be used to reconfigure Cass and Tyler as two-way streets

Tower developers tweak plans to address Straz Center concerns 06/23/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 10:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting


    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery


    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want


    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]