TAMPA — Mayor Jane Castor filled a crucial post in her administration Thursday with the official who has been in charge of her mayoral transition.
Carole Post, who joined Castor’s team in May to help the mayor assemble key posts, was named administrator of development and economic opportunity. The post formerly held by Bob McDonaugh had been vacant since McDonaugh’s August retirement.
Post, a top aide to New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, will wrap up her current duties as a University of South Florida administrator heading up the Morsani Medical School, which is nearly ready to open on the south edge of downtown.
She’ll formally take over in three months, but said she’s eager to start working to bring economic development to all parts of the city.
“It’s really about unlocking Tampa, unlocking opportunity and doing that all over the city,” Post said.
After the event, she told the Times that she considers affordable housing and workforce development to be as important as attracting major projects like Midtown Tampa, the $500 million development at West Cypress Street and North Himes Avenue where Castor made her announcement.
On the ground floor of what will be a 1,000-space parking garage, the mayor also rolled out task force recommendations designed to streamline the city’s permitting process.
Post will make $200,000 a year in her new role.
“Philosophically, I think you see economic development as not just about buildings. The notion (is) that we want to drive opportunity and vitality through the economic engine across the city in all communities and all areas. Some of them are big high-rises and others are small neighborhoods,” she said
City Council member Bill Carlson, who has been critical of past downtown-heavy development efforts, welcomed Post’s hire.
“Carole Post is the kind of world class talent that the people of Tampa deserve. She will make sure that the city focuses on economic development, not just real estate,” Carlson wrote in a text.
Making Post’s job easier, Castor said, will be a raft of reforms to the development process ranging from faster inspections and using private inspections to quicken the pace for projects. The city will also launch a pilot program allowing private certified arborists to sign off on development-related tree issues so that the city won’t have to inspect each tree before it’s impacted.
Castor said she inherited a good foundation from mayoral predecessor Bob Buckhorn, but wanted to cut more red tape and make the city more attractive to developers.
She wanted her task force “to focus on immediate ways to cut the red tape and improve efficiencies in dealing with the city."
She said development fees, some unchanged since 2006, would be evaluated for possible increases or decreases, probably by the end of the year. Jennifer Motsinger, executive vice president of the Tampa Bay Builders Association, said any changes would be in line with neighboring jurisdictions and weren’t opposed by builders.
Nick Haines, chief executive officer of the Bromley Companies and Highwoods Properties which is developing Midtown Tampa — to be anchored by a Whole Foods and containing a mix of residential, hotel and office space — praised Castor and Tampa officials for their business-friendly collaboration.
Haines said the project would be ready for the 2021 Super Bowl in Tampa.