Tampa's Encore development is shaping up as a real success story for urban renewal — and a harbinger of more good things to come.
Encore is the name of the new master-planned community going up on the northeast side of downtown that formerly housed the crime-ridden Central Park Village public housing complex. Bulldozed five years ago, the area of 12 city blocks is undergoing a remarkable transformation. The Tampa Housing Authority just completed a new apartment building at the site and broke ground on two more. The agency also announced this month that it had received $30 million from the federal government to build more housing and community-wide improvements, in what was the single largest grant of its kind in the country.
Washington's confidence in this project is a testament to the authority's standing and to the hard work by everyone from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. And it speaks to the potential of replacing outdated public housing with quality developments that serve subsidized and market-paying residents alike. When completed in a few years, Encore will be an entirely new residential, retail and office community that will connect downtown to Ybor City and the neighborhoods to the north. And by then, the housing authority will be moving to bring a similar experience in urban renewal to the western side of the city center.