Saturday, June 23, 2018
Opinion

Temple Terrace, developer at odds over definition of downtown

In its 87-year history, Temple Terrace has lacked the one thing to pave the way — at least in its civic mindset — to truly transform itself into a real, honest-to-goodness city. And no, having a Mons Venus franchise doesn't count.

For all its charms, its trees, its locale on the Hillsborough River, its lovely neighborhoods, Temple Terrace has never really had a downtown to call its own. And no, having a few strip malls along 56th Street doesn't count either.

Until recently perhaps the signature selling point of Temple Terrace has been its elegant golf course wending its way through the city. It's been said that Billy Graham, then a student at nearby Florida College, found God on the 18th green, which was probably not the first, nor last time the Almighty's name has been uttered ­— one way or the other — on its links.

So for about the past eight years, the city's potentates have been mulling over a master plan to at long last create what it can call Downtown Temple Terrace.

You might say Temple Terrace is making great strides in this effort because the hallmark of any urban plan involves years of a multitude of blueprints everyone dickers over, ignores and then starts again as costs and tempers rise.

At issue is a proposed $160 million downtown complex on the east side of 56th Street from Bullard Parkway to the Hillsborough River. Really, $160 million? For that kind of money the city might be able to lure a certain baseball team to relocate to the site and call itself the Temple Terrace Rays.

Alas disputes have arisen between the city and the developer of the project. The biggest chasm between the parties involved seems to be a disagreement over how to divvy up the residential and commercial space.

On one side is the developer, Vlass Temple Terrace, who wants to build a residential community. On the other is the city, which envisions a village-like atmosphere with retail stores on the first floor with residential units on the upper floors.

Now, not to get too overly picky here, but you don't have to be the great urban architect Robert Moses to figure out the whole purpose of a "downtown" is to have a retail environment that attracts people to want to buy stuff.

Why this is even an issue is a bit befuddling. Anyone who has ever visited "downtown" Westchase has noticed a very utilitarian mix of first-floor retail with residential units above them.

And yet, the city and developer haven't been able to figure this out — for eight years?!?!?

Change never comes easy. A curmudgeon might suggest Temple Terrace forget the whole thing and be happy with the quiet, delightful little place that it is. After all, the city need only look at other developed areas for some object lessons in ambition.

Sure Temple Terrace might resolve its differences and create its own faux Mayberry-on-the-Hillsborough. Then what? Walmart, that's what.

Once you start developing, it's only a matter of time before the mother of all big box stores starts sniffing around. And that's what is happening along Dale Mabry Highway, where the mega-retailer wants to build a new store the size of Iowa near Floyd Road.

Good grief, there are already two Walmarts on steroids within a few miles of the latest site plan. Are the communities of northern Hillsborough that desperate to be within a three-minute drive for $1.50 Pringles?

Temple Terrace might want to ponder that fate. Besides, with all this progress a mere cement mixer away, can a brass pole be that far behind?

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18