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Published Jul. 12, 2013

This sketch gives you a feel for the effect of putting a building too tall on a parcel so small right next to the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. The Residences at the Riverwalk, which the Tampa City Council will consider next month, would rise at least as high as this illustration shows. Imagine the impact of plunking this 400-foot apartment tower down on a spit of land surrounded by five-story buildings. It would cut off the Straz Center for the Performing Arts from the rest of the cultural arts district. It would block the riverfront, crowd the main library into oblivion and give downtown a scattershot feel. There is a difference between adding to the urban village and creating an environment that drives people away by choking the remains of open, public space with concrete, cars and visual barriers. But that's exactly what this building would do, and over a life-span that could easily last a half-century. On Monday, the project goes to the Straz Center board of trustees. The board has no veto power over the project, but a strong message of opposition would send the right signal to City Hall.

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The proposal

The Residences at the Riverwalk would consist of 36 stories for 380 living units on just over one acre (44,180 square feet) of riverfront property, dwarfing all adjacent properties, including Curtis Hixon Park.

Sources: City of Tampa, developers' rezoning application