Monday, January 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: An ambitious vision for Tampa's Channel District

The plan unveiled Thursday to redevelop downtown Tampa's Channel District marks another exciting chapter for Florida's third-largest city. The move would bring residents, energy and billions of new dollars into the area and reconnect a modern and growing downtown with historic Ybor City. Though the plan is ambitious and would be rolled out over years, it would cement Tampa's identity as a waterfront destination and accelerate its transformation into a dynamic urban village.

Port Tampa Bay announced it would remake 45 acres of cruise ship terminals, old dock space and parking lots into a mixed-use development of high-rise residential towers, a marina, commercial space, new cruise ship operations, a waterfront park and other public venues. The plan would transform the eastern side of downtown from the Florida Aquarium north toward Ybor City. All told, the public investment from the port and property taxes designated for the area could reach $200 million, with another $1.5 billion for residential, hotel, retail and office projects coming from the private sector.

This is the sort of grand-scale vision that downtown needs, with new apartment towers already popping up and with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik embarking on a $1 billion redevelopment on 40 acres he controls immediately to the west. Taken together, the two projects are complementary in size and scale, with both looking to draw new residents, businesses and tourists to the most expansive stretches of Tampa's downtown waterfront.

The port plan fills a huge and critical gap on the city center's eastern flank. It would give residents of the new high-rises already there new public space and attractions to enjoy. Cruise ship passengers would see a newer, prettier and more active urban landscape. And by connecting downtown with Ybor City, the port would be strengthening the public investment made years ago in the touristy Ybor district. The build-out also would push new spending into the older neighborhoods that serve as a gateway to downtown from the north.

The plan is also a positive signal that the port will not waste its time or resources looking to attract new mega-cruise ships that cannot fit under the Sunshine Skyway. That idea involves two bad options: Building a new and higher Skyway, or building a new cruise terminal off the southern coast of Pinellas County. This plan markets Tampa as a niche destination for midsized ships, a course that is much more practical and environmentally friendly.

Thursday's announcement capped an incredible year for the Channel District, as the city, Vinik and the port put the Channelside Bay Plaza entertainment center on solid footing, announced the remake of 85 acres on or near the downtown waterfront, and won approval to build a new downtown medical school for the University of South Florida. It will take plenty of work and leadership to make these like-minded visions become reality. But the port plan adds another flourish of excitement at a promising time. It offers a bold, new experience to the downtown urban landscape while honoring Tampa's waterfront history — the very model for how the past and the future should work together.

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Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Updated: 9 hours ago

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18