Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

University of South Florida students share plans for Oldsmar's future

OLDSMAR — Out went plans for Market Square, the city's failed downtown development project with its multiuse buildings, hotel with a rooftop garden and parking garage. In comes the yet-to-be-named project with pop-up coffee houses, a bike share program, cultural center and an outdoor art gallery created by University of South Florida graduate students.

On Monday, about a dozen students from the USF School of Architecture and Community Design held a three-hour open house inside TECO Hall at the Oldsmar Library to share their vision with the community as well as gather input before they present their design to the City Council in May. In November, the city entered an agreement with the school for students to redesign Oldsmar's redevelopment district, which stretches from City Hall to RE Olds Park, at a cost of $55,000.

The students' plans include an indoor market fashioned like Chelsea Market in London, but with a green roofing system to provide shade for Florida's hot weather, a boardwalk over the bay at RE Olds Park inspired by the Tampa Riverwalk, three bike share locations with parking for visitors to leave their car, hop on a bike and cycle the city, as well as a linear park on Park Street, running from State Street to Shore Drive, outfitted with outdoor games (think giant chess board) and a community garden.

As Yvonne Willis, who owns a home on Park Boulevard, studied the plans, she clapped and let out an occasional "Oh yes, oh yes, wonderful.'' The former resident of South Tampa, moved with her husband, Raymond Negron, to Oldsmar seven years ago.

"This is what we hoped the plans would be,'' Willis said. "We had hoped that it would be something that might still encourage growth but will be more community oriented than South Tampa.''

The students' vision also included two six-story buildings near Tampa Road, just high enough for a view of Old Tampa Bay, and expanded public transportation with trolley service throughout the area to entice visitors to come, stay and play.

Student Alicia Martinez held up a diagram framed in glass showing the locations of Oldsmar's current bus stops.

"There's not a lot of public transportation and we concentrated on that and to make it so people want to walk around the city more," she said. "We propose changing the bus stops into public places where people would want to go and enjoy sitting.''

After attending an all-day workshop in February to brainstorm with community stakeholders, the students have spent the last few weeks creating the renderings, keeping in mind Oldsmar's particular challenges. For example, Oldsmar is known as a region that floods during storms, so the students relied on information gathered from a trip to the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Va., a development known for a state-of-the-art, green stormwater management system.

Student Jessica Djahamata shared a drawing of the proposed ampitheater outlined with cobble stones.

"Throughout (the entire project) we have included bioswales (landscape elements to help with removing pollution from runoff water) to help with drainage. So we included things like the cobble stone and also a rain garden and other green spaces,'' she said.

The open house comes after a visit between Mayor Doug Bevis and management of the Tampa Bay Rays to discuss the possibility of a baseball stadium in Oldsmar. The students' project, with its plans that incorporate both daytime activities and nighttime activities, comes at a great time.

"It all fits together. Look at all we've got with the BMX track up and running, the zipline course coming, and this project with USF,'' Bevis said. "And we even have the CSX railroad tracks already here to help with the Rays' need for public transportation. There's a synergy happening.''

Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.

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