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New Humane Society building in West Tampa designed for people and pets

A trip to the Humane Society can be cause for joy or mourning -- a time when families welcome a new member or have to surrender a long-loved pet. For the pets living on-site, the Humane Society offers a shelter, hopefully temporary, where they await a new life.

To better cater to these various needs, the Humane Society Tampa is set to be rebuilt with three stories, separated into areas geared towards adoption or intake. The building will feature a central plaza, an elevated play area, and updated technology to ensure comfort for humans and animals alike.

“The current shelter is a hodgepodge of additions, portables, shanty shacks, and homemade enclosures,” says Jonathan Moore, president of InVision Advisors, who is serving as owners representation on the project. “God bless them for what they're able to do with the animals. It's a maze in there. The air-conditioning isn’t good. There's lots of exterior spaces that the animals are just too hot in. They've got fans blowing so it's clear they need a new building.”

Rather than tear down and rebuild in one fell swoop, construction on the new Humane Society will be done in stages, beginning with a new building built on the outdoor area, where the dogs currently play. 

In this way, construction will have “minimal impact on the existing shelter, so they can stay in operation,” Moore says. Once the new building is finished, the current building will be torn down to make room for the parking lot.

Elevated play yards, dog runs, and exterior spaces will be located on the second floor, sloping down toward the Hillsborough River. The intake wing will include new medical technology, a surgery suite, and an isolation space for animals with contagious diseases.

The new building was designed by Tampa-based architects Thomas Lamb and Kevin Hart. Building construction costs are estimated at $11 million. Moore credits the architects with bringing unique ideas to the development, designed to attract potential adopters while giving the animals a more comfortable stay. One of the ideas Lamb proposed would see a daily "running of puppies," when the pups are let loose to play with visitors around the central plaza.

Construction is slated to begin by the end of the year and finish one year later in 2019.

Improvements aim to make Bayshore Boulevard safer for pedestrians

After a mother pushing her toddler in a stroller were killed by a speeding car while trying to walk cross Bayshore Boulevard last month, public comments about the safety of the scenic roadway turned into an outcry that the City of Tampa should do more to protect pedestrians and bicyclists.

As a result, the City has already reduced the speed limit on Bayshore to 35 mph, and is now expediting additional parts of an improvement plan along Bayshore Boulevard. The plan also includes reducing motorized traffic lane widths, as well as the addition of bike lane buffers and crosswalks equipped with flashing beacons. A number of cosmetic improvements will also be made to refresh painted markings along the road.

The city first held a public meeting to discuss its Safety Action Plan in February 2017. They heard so many differing opinions on the detail and extent of the improvements that Jean Duncan, the city's Transportation and Stormwater Services Director, says the city decided to revisit the issue with the public at a later date. 

But in the wake of the recent fatal crash, the city has decided to skip the public discussion and move forward with the latest improvement plan.

“We have put out a schedule and will expedite all the work to be done,” Duncan says. “We're not holding any more public meetings at this point. We are going to get the improvements put in and, in terms of the [crosswalk] beacons, if there are any issues with the locations, we can pick them up and relocate them [later].”

The Safety Action Plan includes replacing all speed limit signs with 35 mph signs, adding visible speed limit plaques, constructing new pedestrian crosswalks, reducing the width of lanes to 10 feet, and providing buffered bike lanes.

“Whenever we have narrower travel lanes, responsible drivers react to that by modifying their speed appropriately, so they can stay within their travel lane,” Duncan says. “That creates traffic calming. There’s lots of data out there that shows that for every 10-mile-per-hour reduction, there's an exponential improvement in pedestrian safety.”
 
A 2011 report by Brian Tefft, a researcher at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, shows how small changes in traffic speeds can greatly decrease fatality rates. A pedestrian hit at 40 mph is 45 percent likely to be killed on average. At 35 mph, that rate decreases to 31 percent.

Still, many citizens think these efforts don't go far enough to make the busy boulevard safe. The popular boulevard along Hillsborough Bay is lined with luxury condos and private homes connecting downtown with MacDill Air Force Base, and includes what some claim is the longest continuous sidewalk in the world at 4.5 miles. At the time of this story's publication, nearly 5,200 people had signed a petition on change.org calling for 25 mph speed limits and heavier enforcement, with a long-term goal of closing Bayshore's waterfront lanes to motorized traffic, transitioning Bayshore Boulevard into a two-lane scenic route.

Implementing the Safety Action Plan will come at an estimated cost of $485,000 and will be completed in stages, with all work scheduled for completion by October 2018.

New restaurant in Tampa: The Daily Dose doesn't shy away from bold flavors

Looking for a local restaurant serving quality breakfast, brunch, and coffee? Try The Daily Dose on Gandy Boulevard, where most of the menu -- from the bread to the fondue -- is made fresh.

Serving new American cuisine, The Daily Dose offers mostly subtle variations on breakfast classics, like bread bowls, avocado toast, and egg sandwiches. Bolder dishes appear on the menu as well, including a pastrami salmon galette; crab cake and eggs Benedict; and chicken and red velvet waffles.

Opened in South Tampa in mid-January by chef Antoine Ludcene and attorney Scott Jeeves, The Daily Dose strives to set its self apart from Tampa’s breakfast scene by focusing on freshness and breakfast.

“I love to cook breakfast,” Ludcene says. “The sauces we make fresh. The dressings we make fresh. We make fresh fondue. And we make most of the breads fresh in-house.” 

Besides the grub, The Daily Dose serves an array of coffees, from straight-up espresso to mint-flavored mocha. To give their coffee extra depth, Ludcene says they smoke their beans before grinding. 

Hailing from Nigeria, Ludcene has worked in the culinary industry for over two decades, earning a degree in culinary arts from the Johnson and Wales University in Miami and working under celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck during a stint at Disney. He’s also a player in the Tampa Bay culinary scene, where he serves as executive chef and a partner at South Tampa’s Cask Social Kitchen.

He hopes to infuse The Daily Dose with his experience in the kitchen. “We're chefs,” he says. “We're a chef-driven restaurant. We refresh the kitchen and refresh the menu seasonally, every three months. We change some stuff, add new stuff, and have daily chef special.”

In November, Ludcene plans to open another location in Downtown Tampa, and hopes to launch one more in Westchase the following year. 

“Our plan is to grow,” he says. “Our goal is to open one every year.”

Of course, he can’t do that alone and Ludcene is quick to acknowledge the support he gets when he’s away. 

“My other chefs are doing a great job,” he says. “I appreciate all the hard work my team puts through. When you take care of your team, they take care of you.”

The Daily Dose is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Women's apparel boutique to open in Hyde Park Village

Hype Park Village will be getting a new women’s fashion boutique this fall. Following the success of their first store in St. Petersburg, the owners of Canvas Fashion Gallery have chosen to open a second location in South Tampa.

“We fill a void in Saint Pete that we're also hoping to fill in Tampa,” Shelby Pletcher, Canvas co-owner, tells 83 Degrees. She compared her store to Nordstrom, in that it offers a range of apparel at mid-tier price points. “There's a lot of low- and high-end shops around, but not a lot of in between.”

Canvas Fashion Gallery specializes in a variety of styles, including casual and more formal apparel from brands like BB Dakota, Show Me Your MuMu, Z Supply, and Jack, some of which haven't previously been available in Tampa. 

“And a lot of our core brands nobody else is selling in Tampa,” Pletcher said.

The new store will join the dozens of boutiques in Hype Park Village, occupying the current space of men's clothing store London-Phillips and barber shop Cambridge Club, the latter of which will move a block north. Canvas Fashion Gallery's Tampa location will feature five fitting rooms, a denim bar, and a shoe and accessory parlor, with white-walls, color-coded racks, and a gallery-like aesthetic similar to its Saint Petersburg location.

Pletcher and her business partner, Michelle Burtch, cater to busy shoppers looking for a more intimate and customer-centric shopping experience, women who may not have the time to browse large department store. To meet the needs of the ultra-active, they even offer same-day delivery to local customers. 

“The core of our business is really relationship based,” Pletcher said. “If we pride ourselves on anything, it's our relationship with our customers.”

With the new venue in Hyde Park, the owners hope to bring convenience and style to the community’s busy residents.

“Even though going into a development like Hype Park is going to be very different from our location in Saint Petersburg, it is similar in the sense that our customers are near our location,” Pletcher said. “It's a convenience factor for them…with the selection that we offer, and our eye for styling people and understanding what customers need.”

Construction starts on West Tampa senior housing development

With the opening of Riverfront Park, a brand new 25-acre waterfront park on the west bank of the Hillsborough River, and a slew of ground-breaking ceremonies across West Tampa, urban renewal and investment seems to be moving progressively westward from downtown Tampa.

A new project called the Renaissance at West River is the latest in a trend to redevelop West Tampa. Spearheaded by the Tampa Housing Authority, the Renaissance will bring a 160-unit senior housing building to the nascent neighborhood of West River. Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the Tampa Housing Authority broke ground on the development on Thursday, May 10.

“The Renaissance at West River aligns with the agency’s goal of providing quality affordable housing for our elderly citizens and families,” Lillian Stringer, Director of Public Relations for the Tampa Housing Authority, tells 83 Degrees. “Its location at the corner of Main Street and Rome Avenue is considered to be the gateway to the overall West River Neighborhood with approximately 150 acres of land along the western banks of the Hillsborough River that will serve as a recreational waterway, with families from neighborhoods at all income levels being able to enjoy the river.”

At a cost of $46 million, the six-story Renaissance will help make the West River a focal point of the city’s continued redevelopment. At its completion, the $350 million West River redevelopment will feature nearly 1,250 market-rate apartments, 96 townhouses, and over 840 affordable housing homes. An additional 90,000 square feet of retail space and 70,000 square feet of office space will be available.

The Renaissance and much of the construction to take place at West River will be on the former site of North Boulevard Homes, a public housing project long plagued by crime and poverty. Residents who were displaced by its demolition will have first right of refusal to move back to West River via services like Section 8 subsidized housing.

Baker Barrios Architects, with offices in Orlando and Tampa, designed the buildings. 

$30K grant will bring interactive art to Sulphur Springs, Tampa

An interactive art project called the Echo Quilt has been selected for a $30,000 grant from the Gobioff Foundation as a part of its Treasure Tampa initiative.

Proposed by LiveWork Studios, the immersive installations will be built along the Hillsborough River at Community Stepping Stones in Sulphur Springs in the spirit of creative placemaking, which uses public-private partnerships to bring impactful art into communities.

The Echo Quilt combines a large on-site installation with an interactive component, including audio recording equipment that allows visitors to store and disseminate their own stories. The project is meant to share and contribute to the neighborhood's history.

“As a piece of sculpture, the physical structure is designed to provide viewers with a beautiful, quiet, contemplative space that engages both its pristine site along the banks of the Hillsborough River and the unique, and often overlooked community of Sulphur Springs,” Devon Brady, LiveWork Studios co-founder and Echo Quilt organizer, tells 83 Degrees. “Our preliminary designs for the structure reference old gramophone horns and the architecture of the inner ear as a nod to the speaking and listening functions of the piece.

“The interactive component of the project consists of a telephone interface that allows participants to record their own stories, as well as listening to the stories of other participants and pre-programmed audio provided by artists, historians, and anthropologists,” he adds.

As a part of the grant, LiveWork will coordinate with students from Community Stepping Stones, the University of South Florida, and local residents to further conceptualize and construct the project through a series of community meetings. 

Through the Tampa Treasure initiative, the Gobioff Foundation aims to inspire businesses to engage in public-private partnership in support of community-minded art projects. Last year, the initiative awarded a $30,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corporation for an installation called Art in the Park at the Harvest Hope Park. Foundation president, Neil Gobioff, explains that these grants are meant to both beautify a community and communicate the principles of creative placemaking.

“Beyond just being a grant for creative placemaking, what we wanted was the education part of getting people to understand what creative placemaking is, how simple it can be … and how it can positively transform a community,” he says. “The idea is that the community is actively involved and engaged in the process, ideally from the design to the implementation. That helps to create a sense of ownership and sense of pride from the community’s point.”

The Echo Quilt is scheduled to be finished in May 2019.

New waterfront park opens on west bank of Hillsborough River

The City of Tampa is gearing up to celebrate the grand opening of the new Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in West Tampa this Mother’s Day weekend. Beginning with fitness activities on Saturday morning and ending with a fireworks show on Sunday night, Riverfront Rock! will include more than 24 hours-worth of events and entertainment.

As its name suggests, the Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park occupies waterfront real estate along the west bank of the Hillsborough River, just south of I-275. The 25-acre park features an event space, boathouse, two dog parks, athletic courts, picnic shelters, and a small waterpark for kids under 12. The festival lawn boasts a capacity of 16,000, with an adjacent lawn designated for smaller groups. 

This weekend’s events include morning paddle boarding, dragonboat demonstrations, a mac and cheese cook-off hosted by Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and two days of concerts headlined by Third Eye Blind. Food and beer will be available for purchase. Each day kicks off at 9 a.m. For a complete schedule, see the City of Tampa event page.

“This park truly has something for everyone,” Buckhorn says in a statement emailed to 83 Degrees. “We look forward to, decades from now, looking back on what will serve as the anchor for the West River Redevelopment and reminiscing on what will be a memorable weekend. So come out, bring your family and friends and enjoy two full days of activities in Tampa’s new Riverfront Park!”

Parking will be limited but the city has arranged free transportation options via water taxi, shuttle bus, and bike valets.

The $35.5 million project has been in the works for nearly two years, beginning in June 2016. The primary consultant on the park was urban design firm Civitas of Denver, CO, with sub-consultancy from W Architecture and Landscape Architecture out of Brooklyn, NY.

Modern townhouses come to North Hyde Park in Tampa

A series of geometric townhouses are being developed in West Tampa's North Hyde Park neighborhood, a few blocks west of the University of Tampa. Simply called Views at North Hyde Park, the buildings will feature straight-edged, modernist design and be developed using a land-recycling method called urban infill, which aims to build on undeveloped urban land. 

Spearheaded by Indianapolis-based company Onyx and East, the project will feature 37 units at 405 North Oregon Avenue. Saint Petersburg-based construction company Peregrine Construction Group broke ground on the project earlier this month. The townhouses were designed by Fieldstone Architecture and Engineering, a firm with offices in Tampa.

“Our focus…is to build urban communities for active homeowners in locations that are walkable or bike-able to great dining, shopping, and recreation,” John Bain, Executive VP for national operations at Onyx and East, tells 83 Degrees. “The Views at North Hyde Park is in the epicenter of Tampa’s dynamic urban core with close proximity to the Riverwalk, world famous Bayshore Boulevard, amazing dining, and the Julian B. Lane Park.” 

Two floor plans will be available for purchase: Gray and Fig. At 1,965 square-feet, Gray will feature three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, and a two-car garage. The 1,697-square-feet Fig units will come with two bedrooms, an office, two-and-a-half baths, and a one-car garage. Each unit will feature private rooftop decks. Prices will start in the low $400,000s. 

“We wanted to do something slightly different than the market has seen and bring a fresh, modern design to the location," Bain said of the project’s geometric architecture. “It is a form of moderated modern where the massing contributes to the architecture.”

The property will be developed using principles of urban infill, an urban planning method that includes construction on undeveloped land in developed communities, tapping into existing infrastructure and limiting urban sprawl.

“Urban infill is creating new communities within old locations that have become more desirable for homeowners due to revitalization and redevelopment of areas,” Bain explained. “For us it is all about a lifestyle that is active and has access to things that people want to do.”

Views at North Hyde Park is slated for completion in two years.

Yboy City welcomes new Center for Architecture and Design

The Center for Architecture and Design celebrated its inauguration at the historic Sans Souci building earlier this month, bringing a leading voice in the local architectural community to Ybor City.

Located in a 2,000-square-foot facility, the Center serves as headquarters for the Tampa Bay regional chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Tampa Bay Foundation for Architecture and Design (TBFAD), a nonprofit organization committed to raising awareness for architecture’s impacts on the general public. 

More than $60,000 in renovations brought the Sans Souci building up to snuff, in addition to donated materials like carpeting, lights, and ceiling fans. The new space is larger and more open than the Center’s previous facility, and puts the AIA Tampa Bay and the TBFAD in proximity with the many architectural firms based in Ybor City. 

In addition to offices and meeting rooms, the Center provides event space for AIA members and partners, as well as a gallery for art, photography, and architecture. ARTchitecture, the exhibit currently on display, features art inspired by the built environment. The University of South Florida architectural program also utilizes part of the facility to present their projects.

"It's really a multipurpose space,” Chris Culbertson, AIA Tampa Bay president, tells 83 Degrees.

AIA is a nationwide organization with local chapters offering contract documents, design competitions, and continuing education for members. Representing seven counties and around 650 members in the Tampa Bay area, AIA Tampa Bay works closely with municipal development programs, including those in downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg, to foster sensible growth. The group recently recognized the city of St. Pete for excellence in architectural design.

“We're trying to stay in their face, if you will, to let them know the AIA is here and wants to … provide our feedback as to what these developments should include,” Culbertson says, suggesting that pedestrian-friendly infrastructure is of top concern.

Another key focus for AIA Tampa Bay and TBFAD is encouraging more local engagement in the development of the Tampa Bay Area. 

“We promote local involvement from all aspects of construction,” Culbertson says. “That obviously includes architecture, but also subcontractors and engineers. So often with these developments in town, people are happy about them but they'll find out that the architects or even the contractors are from a state 2,000 miles away. That doesn't really benefit our local community.”

Built in 1906, the two-story, yellow-brick Sans Souci building has housed a barber shop, telegraph office, and penny arcade over the years. Its prominent location on 7th Avenue has made it a main stop on the the Buildings Alive! Ybor City Architecture Hop.

For more information, visit the Center for Architecture and Design website.

New Bayshore high-rise would bring more luxury living to Tampa's waterfront

A new residential condominium has been proposed for the lot next to Fred Ball Park on Bayshore Boulevard, but the city isn't convinced by its development plan. Called The Sanctuary at Alexandra Place, the building joins a group of high-rises sprouting along the waterfront road, giving a 3D-rendered shape of things to come.

Bayshore Boulevard hosts some of Tampa Bay’s most coveted real estate, so it’s no wonder why developers have begun buying up old buildings with plans to erect high-rise residential towers in their place. The historic Colonnade Restaurant was purchased in 2016 for $6.2 million to make room for the Virage Bayshore, a 24-story, 71-unit condominium. Half-a-mile north at Bay-to-Bay Boulevard, construction is underway on a 15-floor, 32-unit condo called the Aquatica on Bayshore.

The Sanctuary will be built two blocks north of the Aquatica. Offering just 15 units -- one on each floor -- The Sanctuary is designed for luxury. Seamless glass on all four sides will give residents sweeping views of Hillsborough Bay. Polished porcelain tiles will occupy the floors, Gaggenau appliances will be fitted in the kitchen and Rohl plumbing fixtures in the bathrooms. Units will start at $2.3 million.

“[We] recognized that the residences that were selling fastest and in most demand were those that had a direct view of the water, of Bayshore, and the ones that were penthouses,” Brian Taub, whose company, Taub Entities, is leading developing, tells 83 Degrees. “So we decided to do nothing but essentially all penthouses. It will be the only building that is exclusive in so much as it's one unit per floor, glass on all four sides, and it's a small boutique building meaning you're not sharing an elevator with a lot of people.”

Before Taub and his partners can break ground on the building, they’ll have to convince the city to grant them approval on their current development plan. The developers have made a rezoning request to PD (planned development), a category that offers more flexibility in construction. Prior to its construction, the Aquatica also rezoned to PD.

“When you build your site plan according to what your zoning code, then you have to build to the very specific requirements that apply to that zoning code,” Thomas Snelling, Director of the Planning and Development Department for the City of Tampa, says. “With a PD you have the ability to craft regulations that will apply to you.”

The city has identified two inconsistencies with development code in The Sanctuary's rezoning request, including the removal of a non-hazardous grand oak tree.

“Grand trees are very large and they're very important to the city and the neighborhoods and communities,” Snelling says.

A representative for The Sanctuary will have a chance to argue their case at a public hearing at 6pm Thursday, April 26. 

Downtown Tampa gets two more eye-catching developments

The facelift continues for Tampa’s downtown waterfront district, as two new development projects are announced this week — Riverwalk Place and a Marriott Edition hotel, both within walking distance of the Tampa Convention Center. The projects help give shape to the district’s continued redevelopment and cement the layout of tomorrow's downtown.

Rising more than 50 stories, Riverwalk Place may become the tallest tower on Florida’s west coast, with offices, restaurants, and luxury condominiums offered for between $600,000 and more than $2 million. The project, which is estimated to cost $350 million and employ over 50 workers during its construction phase, is spearheaded by Feldman Equities of Tampa and Two Roads Development of West Palm Beach.

“This will be the first new office skyscraper built in downtown Tampa in 30 years, and the first ever mixed-use tower,” Larry Feldman, President and Chief Executive of Feldman Equities, says in a statement. Feldman hopes the building becomes a social hub for downtown Tampa.

Riverwalk Place was designed by Gensler, the architectural firm responsible for the world’s second tallest building, the Shanghai Tower. Situated on the southeast corner of Ashley Drive and E Whiting Street, the building’s design was inspired by Tampa Bay’s maritime atmosphere. Its curved, sailboat-like shape will purportedly make it aerodynamic while offering most offices and residences a view of the Hillsborough River and Bay. 

“From the outset, our goal was to do more than just design another tall building,” says Shamim Ahmadzadegan, the Gensler architect behind the design. “We wanted the project to activate the Riverwalk, and contribute to the urban landscape of downtown Tampa.”

Just a couple blocks east, the planned 173-room Edition hotel could become Tampa’s first five-star resort and a gem in the crown of the proposed Water Street Tampa neighborhood. Lead by Strategic Property Partners (SPP), a partnership between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment, Water Street Tampa will see 53 acres along the Ybor Chanel converted into a cultural hub, redeveloped with restaurants, green spaces, marinas, and hotels at an estimated cost of over $3 billion. 

The Edition will take a prominent position in a 26-story building across the street from Amalie Arena, at the northwest corner of Channelside Drive and Water Street. Upon its scheduled completion in 2021, it will join other hotels in the Water Street Tampa, including a 519-room JW Marriott, which is slated for completion the year prior, and the existing 727-room Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, which has planned renovations by SPP.

Designed by New York-based architect, Morris Adjmi, in collaboration with Florida-based architecture and planning firm, Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates, the tower will offer a rooftop pool, adjacent bar, restaurant, spa, and fitness center for guests and residents. Restaurants and retail shops will populate the ground floor.

Publix under construction at USF Tampa, across from The Hub

Residents of student dormitories and other housing at or near the University of South Florida’s main campus will soon have a new shopping venue. A Publix Supermarket is rising on Fletcher Avenue at USF Palm Drive on the northern edge of campus. It’s expected to open in the last quarter of 2018 or first quarter of 2019.

“This is a brand new store from the ground up,” says Brian West, Media and Community Relations Manager for Publix’s Central, Western, and Southwest Florida region, who indicates the store will not replace any of the supermarket’s existing operations.

The Publix will be less than 30,000-square-feet, roughly half the size of its regular stores and comparable to the Publix opened in downtown St. Petersburg in March 2017, he says. 

It will feature an outdoor seating area and a grab-and-go food section with prepared foods such as sandwiches and salads prepared daily.

Construction began in February as part of a new walkable village-concept area on the northeast corner of the USF campus that includes new dorms, a fitness center, a food court and outdoor gathering spaces.

While traditional stores staff around 120, the number and timeline wasn’t yet available for the new Publix. But the company typically prefers to transfer existing employees to their new stores initially.

“There’s a very small number that are brand new to the company that would start at a brand new store,” West says. “We transfer existing associates.”

That way new employees are surrounded by experienced ones, he explains.

Job candidates can apply at kiosks at existing stores, and their applications are available at surrounding stores. It takes about 45 minutes and applications will remain active for 30 days. After that, applications would need to be renewed.

“Surrounding stores are always hiring,” he says. “We’re in a fortunate position where we’re always hiring new help.”

The Lakeland-based grocery chain, founded in Winter Haven in 1930 by the late George W. Jenkins, has grown to more than 1,100 stores. The privately-held company, with stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee, ranked 47th among the 2018 FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For.” It ranked first in the Tampa Bay region followed by the Clearwater-based Baycare Health System, the 65th.

The northern fringe of the campus is lined with housing and medical-related facilities. The grocery will be in close proximity to University Community Hospital, John Knox Village and the USF golf course, The Claw.

On the western side of campus, a luxury student housing complex is being constructed on the east side of University Mall. Called The Standard, the complex is expected to open for leasing in fall of 2019.


More private rooms, new main entrance coming soon to St. Joseph's Hospital in West Tampa

It was a different era of health care back in the mid-1960s, when St. Joseph’s Hospital moved from its original home in Ybor City to its familiar location on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard in West Tampa. Hospital rooms had at least two beds, often more, and communal showers were down the hall. That’s what patients expected. Private rooms were rare and for the wealthy.

In recent years hospitals across the country have been moving toward single-occupancy rooms. That’s the impetus behind a new six-story addition to the hospital that’s slated for completion in December of 2019.

“The reason we’re doing this is to respond to community need and to emphasize how important West Tampa is to us,” says St. Joseph’s President Kimberly Guy. “We really think of St. Joseph’s as an anchor for the West Tampa community. The sleek new tower will include 90 new private rooms for patients.

That will allow the hospital to convert some of its existing patient-care rooms into single-occupancy units.

Patients are more comfortable and content when they have a room to themselves, Guy says, but private rooms also improve patient outcomes. Patients get more rest, and the risk of contagion is lowered. St. Joseph's actually still has some areas where rooms don’t have their own showers. "We try not to use those for patients,'' Guy says.

But the new $126-million addition will be about more than private rooms. It will become the main entrance to the hospital, featuring a two-story lobby with a drive-up entrance, waiting rooms and on-call rooms. A pedestrian bridge will connect the new tower to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, on the south side of Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard.

St. Joseph’s Hospital-North in Lutz and St. Joseph’s Hospital-South in Riverview have also announced expansion plans, with new additions slated to open in 2019. The main St. Joseph’s campus has been a centerpiece of West Tampa since its founders, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, moved the hospital there a half-century ago.

Since then, the area around the hospital has become one of Tampa’s most important medical corridors.

The growth of nearby Hillsborough Community College, the building of Raymond James Stadium and the expansion of Interstate 275 over the past decades, along with the resurgence of West Tampa itself, have helped enhance the hospital’s visibility and importance to the Tampa Bay Area.

“I really think the sisters had some divine inspiration when they chose this location,” Guy says.

Bodega restaurant expanding into Seminole Heights

Bodega means grocery in Spanish. But the eatery of the same name, in St. Petersburg’s Edge District, has built a reputation for Latin Street Food -- particularly the Cuban sandwich, along with juices and smoothies made with fresh ingredients.

Since it opened five years ago as a small neighborhood restaurant at 1120 Central Ave., the Edge District has grown into a bustling area. Now Bodega is planning a second location opening later this spring at 5901 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa’s Seminole Heights.

“In order to build a second Bodega, it kind of had to look a certain way,” says Debbie Sayegh, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband George. “When we pulled up to this location, we knew. We said ‘OK, this is perfect.’ It kind of all went rather smoothly after that.”

Bodega was a great fit for Seminole Heights because of the diversity of the neighborhood with craftsman houses and lots of character. “We love Seminole Heights,” she says. “It reminds us a little bit of New York.”

Bodega’s new Seminole Heights location will feature the same menu and indoor and outdoor courtyard seating, two shuffle board courts, and a rum bar, Mandarin Heights, run in collaboration with St. Petersburg’s Mandarin Hide.

“It’s going to stay the same menu,” says Sayegh. “We’ve learned to leave things as they are to make everybody happy.”

She and her husband, both New Yorkers, had been looking around for a suitable location for a second restaurant since the third year Bodega was in operation.

George, who trained at the French Culinary Institute, fell in love with Cuban food when he worked as a cook in Miami. After moving to downtown St. Petersburg, the couple “reincarnated” the concept of a Cuban coffee shop they’d run in Brooklyn, she says, changing it to a Cuban sandwich shop with fast casual food.

The nostalgic name hails from their days in New York, where the bodegas were a go-to place for food late at night.

The restaurant, which strives for the Florida feel, also is popular for its pollo asado (roast chicken) sandwich, plus vegetarian selections like jicama slaw and smoothies (or batidos) with mango, coconut and other tropical fruits. Shots of wheat grass and turmeric also are offered.

They aren’t announcing an opening date or hours yet, but updates will be posted here.

In case you are wondering, Bodega’s Cuban sandwich follows the Miami tradition, with Bodega’s own roast pork and homemade mojo, or sauce. It’s served sans salami, lettuce and tomato. “Some people ask for lettuce and tomato. We don’t encourage it,” she says. “It’s not the way we make it.”

In Tampa, salami is popular, while lettuce and tomato is popular in Key West. “People have a lot to say about a Cuban sandwich,” she adds. “It really just depends on the person and what they were growing up with.”

SOHO Blind Tiger settles into walkable community

A trip to Roberto Torres’ South Howard Avenue coffee shop is an average 7- to 12-minute walk for many of his customers. When they arrive, they experience the aroma and flavor of coffee from afar: the floral and tea-like favors of coffee from Panama, the citrusy tones of coffee from Brazil, the nutty taste of coffee from Columbia, and the fruitiness of coffee from Rwanda.

This is Blind Tiger Cafe, part of a walkable community on both sides of Howard Avenue in South Tampa. The floor, with its map of Tampa and its neighborhoods is like a “love letter” to the city, acknowledges the native of Panama, who moved to Tampa 12 years ago.

Inspired by the speakeasy, another name for blind tiger, Torres opened his first cafe in Ybor City in late 2014. His goal was simple: meet Seventh Avenue’s need for a coffee shop.

He soon learned high walkability, high density and a neighborhood feel was a winning formula for the rest of Tampa too. So he and partners opened shops in Seminole Heights, the Tampa Bay Times building downtown, and more recently, South Tampa. His 17,000-square-foot shop at 934 S. Howard Ave. features a polished concrete floor with a map by Robert Horning of Tampa Murals.

“We wish to be sort of like this destination in Tampa,” explains Torres, who is partnering with Luis Montanez and Christopher Findeisen in the cafe and Black & Denim, a Tampa apparel firm. “This is where we got our start.”

The Blind Tiger Cafe also features a bold tiger on the wall by Tampa’s Pep Rally Inc. It offers traditional coffee drinks like cappuccino, along with specialty drinks. “For example, we have this one, Expresso Bombon -- two ounces of expresso over two ounces of sweet and condensed milk,” he says. “When you mix it, it’s like liquid candy.”

Blind Tiger, which is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, also serves up breakfast sandwiches, turkey and veggie sandwiches, salads, smoothies, beer and wine and cheese plates.

Located in The Morrison building, Torres' latest cafe houses a 300-square-foot haberdashery. The cafe is partnering with Brent Kraus in The Ella Bing Haberdashery, featuring bowties and neckties, suspenders, leather goods, clothes and shoes, with 10 percent of the proceeds going toward The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

I think there’s a lot of synergy,” Torres says. “A lot of people that go say ‘oh it’s a shop’ end up being customers from our shop and vice versa.”

The Morrison, located near the Lee Selmon Expressway, includes 48 apartment units in the complex, with two-bedroom, two-bath apartments from 1309 to 1320 square feet listed at $2,500 a month. It offers perks such as bike racks, covered parking, fire pits, an elevator, a fitness center and community entertainment area, pool, sauna and rooftop sundeck.

Joining the Blind Tiger Cafe in the business space are the restaurant Zoës Kitchen, specializing in Mediterranean cuisine; Club Pilates; and Bulla Gastrobar, a fun/casual meeting space inspired by Spanish tapas restaurants.

What’s next for the Blind Tiger Cafe? More coffee stops, of course. “We don’t know exactly where,” Torres says.

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