06/30/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — A series of real estate deals is raising eyebrows at City Hall.
On June 16, the Intown/Framework Group — a partnership between Tampa developers Phillip A. Smith and Greg Minder — paid the city of Tampa $660,000, the appraised price, for about 1½ acres in Ybor City. Their proposed project: apartments.
They also paid $970,000 to the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg for a neighboring parcel....
06/30/15 Human Interest
TAMPA — Just in time for the Fourth of July, three new boat slips and a launch for kayaks, canoes and paddle boards have opened at Water Works Park.
"A long time coming," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said of the slips, which required more work on permitting than the city originally counted on. The park, at 1710 N Highland Ave., opened in August at a cost of $7.4 million. City Hall did not get the last of the permits it needed for the slips until April....
06/30/15 Local Government
TAMPA — How many potholes does Tampa fill per month? How many miles of drainage ditches does it clean? How long does it take Tampa Fire Rescue to arrive at a fire? Or for the water department to answer your phone call?
TAMPA — Did Mayor Bob Buckhorn's decision not to support Charlie Crist for governor lead him to make it harder for a City Council aide to work for the Crist campaign?
Council Chairman Frank Reddick thinks so, and he said so at Thursday's council meeting.
"This whole thing is political," Reddick said of a bureaucratic tug-of-war over who had the authority to set the circumstances in which legislative aide Lorena Hardwick worked for the Crist campaign....
06/25/15 Local Government
TAMPA — The City Council took the first step Thursday toward repealing part of its controversial bans on panhanding.
Council members voted 6-1 to repeal the city's ban on soliciting in the right of way and an accompanying exemption that allowed newspaper vendors to work the streets seven days a week. A second and final vote will take place July 16.
Chairman Frank Reddick cast the sole vote against repeal....
06/24/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — A Miami luxury apartment developer has taken a step toward trying to build what city officials believe will be a riverfront residential complex on what is now the headquarters of the Tampa Tribune.
The Related Group filed a request with the city of Tampa on Wednesday asking whether removing the Tribune building site from a larger rezoning from 1999 would be a substantial change to the property's approved development plan....
TAMPA — A plan to add express toll lanes to Interstate 275 found few friends Tuesday night among Seminole Heights residents who said state transportation officials are focusing on commuters when they should be focused on communities.
"This project has been developed by the Florida Department of Roads, not the Florida Department of Transportation," Seminole Heights civic activist and business owner Kimberly Overman told DOT officials during a standing-room-only meeting at the Seminole Heights Branch Library....
06/19/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — It looks like the rebirth of the historic S.H. Kress & Co. building will take awhile longer.
The dream has been around for at least a decade, and it appeared it was about to come true last fall when a development team filed plans with City Hall to incorporate the grand old department store into a 22-story tower with a hotel, apartments and more.
But Kress owner Jeannette Jason said this week that she no longer has a contract to sell the four-story building on N Franklin Street to Walson Ventures, a partnership between Tampa developers Alex Walter and Casey Ellison. The contract hasn't been in place since December because of issues on her end of the transaction, she said....
06/18/15 Local Government
TAMPA — For the second straight year, City Hall is looking to adopt a budget that doesn't dip into the city's rainy day fund, but it's not going to be easy, officials said Thursday.
Yes, property tax revenues are expected to grow, thanks to a projected 8.3 percent increase in city property values.
But personnel costs are on the rise, too — mainly because of 3.5 percent pay raises negotiated with the city's three unions in 2013 and increases in health care costs, which are projected to average 9 to 10 percent....
Here's another sign — not that anyone needed it — that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is open to raising his statewide profile: On June 26, he heads to Tallahassee for an appearance before the Capital Tiger Bay Club. Buckhorn, a second-term mayor, is seen as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2018....
In a sign of solidarity, the City Council has displayed a blue Tampa Bay Lightning rally flag during the team's pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
But Thursday morning, the flag was gone, replaced by a display of Chicago Blackhawks red on the council dais.
06/16/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — The $17 million the Legislature earmarked to move the University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine to downtown Tampa is a green light for the project, officials said Tuesday.
"Great news," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
"A watershed moment," said Mark Walsh, USF's assistant vice president for government relations.
"A strong commitment," said Jim Shimberg, an executive for Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who wants the medical school to anchor his $1 billion redevelopment in the southern part of downtown....
TAMPA — Next year's state budget will not include $2.5 million City Hall sought for a water initiative that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has hoped would be a legacy project.
The city wanted the money for a $3 million pilot project to study ways it could turn reclaimed water that it now discharges into Tampa Bay into drinking water.
Tampa sends about 60 million gallons of highly treated reclaimed water to the bay every day. It is looking at building a pipeline to pump about a third of that from the city's sewage treatment plant at Port Tampa Bay north to areas along the Tampa Bypass Canal....
With Chicago fans still cheering the Blackhawks Stanley Cup win, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn texted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel close to midnight Monday.
Emanuel called back, crowd noise in the background.
"He said, I'm lookifng forward to all the goodies that you're sending — and get that check ready," Buckhorn said Tuesday.
In a wager on the series, Buckhorn had promised that if the Blackhawks won the championship, he would send Emanuel some Original "1905" Salad from Tampa's Columbia Restaurant and 122 Cuban sandwiches (the Stanley Cup turns 122 this year). He also agreed to donate to Emanuel's favorite charity for young children, Becoming a Man....
06/15/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators late Monday night completed work on a new state budget, securing $29 million for two major construction projects at the University of South Florida and rejecting a third.
In an avalanche of spending deals ratified shortly before midnight, lawmakers agreed to give $17 million to USF to move the Morsani College of Medicine to a new downtown Tampa location and to contribute $12.3 million to USF St. Petersburg's College of Business....