TAMPA — As a candidate for mayor, Bob Buckhorn promised to create a master plan that would knit together downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods, with a focus on bringing activity and development to the Hillsborough River.
As a result, the InVision Tampa plan that Buckhorn unveiled Tuesday is not just an exercise in urban planning. Rather, it is a step toward addressing one of the 34 campaign promises tracked by the Buck-O-Meter, a project of PolitiFact Florida, the political fact-checking arm of the Tampa Bay Times.
The InVision Tampa plan has been in the works for more than a year. The city originally won a $1.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in October 2010 for a corridor study along Nebraska Avenue in anticipation of high-speed rail coming to Tampa. Then Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected high-speed rail funds.
Rather than give back the grant, Buckhorn's administration got HUD's permission to expand the scope of the study to look at the entire downtown core. The project's budget was $1.43 million — the original $1.18 million federal grant, plus a $125,000 city match and $125,000 in in-kind support.
In November 2011, the city announced that it had hired AECOM, a Fortune 500 consulting firm based in Los Angeles, to work with the city on the project. The formal launch of the project came in April 2012 and the finished plan made its debut.
As he campaigned, Buckhorn promised a plan to guide the growth of downtown. As mayor, he has delivered the kind of blueprint he talked about. We rate this Promise Kept.