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Pasco County Launches Business Incubator, Dade City

Pasco County entrepreneurs soon will be able to take advantage of the county's first business incubator.

On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Dade City Commissioners showed support for local entrepreneurs by approving $50,000 to launch the first business incubator in Pasco County; the incubator will be located in the Dade City Business Center on Citrus Villas Lane and managed by a team led by the Pasco Economic Development Council (EDC).

“The incubator project represents a fantastic opportunity for Dade City in job creation, promotion of our community as 'open for business' and supporting entrepreneurship,” says John Moors, executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to working with our partners in promoting this new growth while maintaining our unique, old Florida sense of community.”

The Dade City Business Center location will play a big role, helping the Pasco EDC to assist start-up companies or early stage businesses grow, add local jobs and receive necessary technical assistance; Saint Leo University has offered to partner with the EDC on this venture, offering that assistance to start-ups.

“The incubator completes a long-term objective for Saint Leo's Donald R. Tapia School of Business to deepen our support to the local business community and provide opportunities for our students and faculty to engage in creating new businesses,” says School of Business Dean Michael Nastanski.

The incubator coming into fruition has been a year in the making by the Pasco EDC.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: John Moors, Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce; Michael Nastanski, Saint Leo University

Uhsome Media, Marketing Opens In Sarasota HuB

Local Tampa media and marketing agency Uhsome has announced an expansion, bringing the company's growth to the Sarasota area.

The brains behind CoWorkTampa, a Tampa-based coworking loft offering affordable memberships to local freelancers and entrepreneurs, Uhsome's new 300-square-foot office will be housed inside of HuB's newly opened space at 1680 Fruitville Road in Sarasota. The HuB space celebrated the grand opening of the Fruitville Road location in December 2012.

“Sarasota is an up and coming, wealthy area with a lot of baby boomers needing online assistance,” says Uhsome CEO Chris Arnoldi. “HuB is at the forefront of the technology scene and is definitely the spot to be. We like associating ourselves with people doing it the right way.”

Since 2009, HuB has been active in promoting big ideas in Sarasota and their renovation of a 10,000-square-foot building is continuing to embrace that concept by housing innovative tech companies, entrepreneurs and creative/tech startups. HuB founder Rich Swier Jr. worked on the renovation with Sarasota's HOYT Architects and Biter Enterprises.

“We do a lot business with people working out of the HuB already,” Arnoldi says. “We plan to be more efficient and accessible.”

Uhsome will begin operating out of their new HuB office on February 1st, offering the same suite of professional services including everything from web design, hosting, consulting and development to iPhone apps and mobile sites.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Chris Arnoldi, Uhsome

The Workout Scene: The Bar Method, Tampa

Tampa workout junkies, say hello to the Bar Method, a full-body exercise program using a ballet bar fitness technique while drawing from the principles of isometrics, dance conditioning, interval training and physical therapy.

Think: dance, pilates and yoga.

Tampa Bay resident and Bar Method enthusiast Jeanette DePuy celebrated the opening of Tampa's first Bar Method studio at MetWest International in Tampa’s Westshore Business District on January 12th. DePuy trained at the Bar Method's flagship studio in San Francisco with founder Burr Leonard, ultimately falling in love with the workout.

“I didn't love any of the things I was doing to be fit until I found this. The way that your body changes because of it is different than any other workout, targeting muscles differently and sculpting hard-to-reach areas,” DePuy says. “I knew I had to open my own studio.”

Calling the hour-long workout “fun and addicting,” DePuy wanted a central location for the studio, ultimately finding the perfect 2,800-square-feet studio in MetWest International, MetLife's 32-acre mixed-used development in Westshore.

“We opened with a full schedule, raring to go and already have a lot of activity from the surrounding office buildings,” she says. “The commuity class members who have tried the Bar Method are already hooked.”

Noticeable results from the workout, she says, include firm, elongated muscles; reduced body fat; high muscle definition in the chest; improved posture; long, narrow thighs; defined hamstrings; increased stamina and energy; strong, flat abdominals; and extended youthfulness.

“Overall, it's just a very intense workout that quickly and safely reshapes your body,” says DePuy, who already has plans to open an additional studio in New Tampa; third and fourth studios may make their way to South Tampa and Pinellas County.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Jeanette DePuy, The Bar Method

The Fresh Market Coming To Brandon, Lithia

The Fresh Market, a specialty grocery retail chain, is expanding into Brandon.

With a goal of providing high-quality products in a unique, inviting shopping atmosphere, The Fresh Market has plans to open a more than 18,000-square-feet location in the Lithia Crossing shopping center on Lithia-Pinecrest Road in Brandon in 2013.

The 7th Tampa Bay area location and 35th location in Florida, the Lithia Crossing grocery store will work as an anchor store to surrounding businesses such as Land and Sea Market, Cold Stone Creamery, Stein Mart and Panera Bread.

As The Fresh Market's broker representative for West Florida, Florida Retail Partners brokered the lease for the company's newest location. Kalyn Brandewie, founding partner with Florida Retail Partners, says the Brandon area was chosen because The Fresh Market believes their store will be a welcomed addition to the affluent community.

"We are excited about our continued expansion in the South, in Florida in particular," says Randy Kelley, senior VP of real estate and development for The Fresh Market. "We look forward to building on the success of our other Florida locations, where we have enjoyed a strong and loyal customer base."

Opened in Greensboro, N.C. in 1982, The Fresh Market now operates 129 stores in 25 states, focused on offering a variety of fresh, natural and organic groceries and prepared foods; each store includes a full-service butcher shop, bakery, delicatessen, produce section, fish market and floral stand.

"[Upon visiting,] customers will discover that our stores are committed to variety, freshness and value, as well as customer service," says Craig Carlock, The Fresh Market president and CEO.

The Fresh Market currently operates locations in St. Pete, Sarasota, Bradenton, Clearwater, Carrollwood and South Tampa.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Randy Kelley & Craig Carlock, The Fresh Market

New Art Gallery Opens, Downtown St. Pete

A new art gallery has made its way to the Edge District in downtown St. Pete.

The Basement at Downtown St. Pete -- which, yes, is actually a basement -- is a new 3,000-square-foot exposed brick space, featuring work by up and coming Tampa Bay area artists. Sponsored by local restaurants and bars, The Basement plans to host monthly events.

“The space is so unparalleled it just oozes creativity,” says The Basement's Nicki Odato. “It brings a surge of uniqueness to an already eclectic city.”

Odato, who runs The Basement with friend Sam Renick, says they weren't looking to open an art gallery when they came across the space at 1000 Central Ave. Instead, they were in the process of looking for a studio space for their local furniture design business, Sotted Design, but saw huge potential for an art gallery.

“Everything just happened organically: We came across the space, it made sense and everything fell into place,” Renick says. “We hope that when people visit The Basement, the same feeling we get every time we go down there, transpires to them.”

In addition to displaying local art, The Basement space is available to rent for photoshoots, videos, yoga classes, etc.

“We love out of the box ideas! Nothing is off of the table when it comes to an idea for the space.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Nicki Odato, The Basement

Redesigned Carrollwood Plaza Adds Small Town Boutiques, Tampa

Regency Center's newly designed Village Center is bringing small businesses to Carrollwood by creating a central gathering, shopping, and dining place for everyone to enjoy. When the existing Walgreens and Publix stores in the plaza experienced increased customer traffic, Regency Centers drafted up a fresh design to accommodate the growing customer demands, new retail space and local boutique shops.

The revised plaza design incorporates a "village approach with a small town feel,'' says Senior Leasing Agent Cary Anderson. Construction will be  complete by April 2014, but many local shops like Shear Art Salon & Spa have already moved into their swanky new digs, which now feature frontage on a brand new plaza roadway.

Melting Pot of Tampa, located in the shopping center, is also planning a remodel of its restaurant. New retail space is being constructed in the southwest portion of the plaza, and as construction progresses, Village Center is adding local boutique shops inclusive of "clothing, jewelry, home furnishings and similar stores.'' Other new tenants include an upscale Asian bistro concept restaurant.

The design also incorporates a larger Publix with expanded offerings and a free-standing Walgreens, complete with a drive-through window.

Publix will close around April 1st and aims to reopen in April 2014; Walgreens will experience no downtime and plans to move into its new store in April 2014.

A new entryway from South Village Drive will run from the south side of the plaza and extend northeast through to the front of Publix, providing "additional exposure for businesses and increased customer access.''

The redesign aims to create a central gathering, shopping and dining hub for Carrollwood residents.

"Where is the gathering place to go to in Carrollwood? There really isn't a central spot,'' says Anderson. "The Village Center can become that place.''

New plaza features include an updated courtyard and outside seating, allowing residents to watch the "courtyard come to life, making it a more popular gathering spot for Carrollwood,'' Anderson says.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Cary Anderson and Kristen Moore, Regency Centers

New Bistro To Open In Tampa Convention Center, Downtown Tampa

Designed to provide an oasis from the loud, congested atmosphere typically found in convention centers, a new dining option is coming to the 600,000-square-foot Tampa Convention Center.

Located on the waterfront in the heart of downtown Tampa, Bay Bistro at the Tampa Convention Center will expand opportunities for patrons taking advantage of the Riverwalk. The new 7,830-square-foot waterfront bistro promises to provide visitors an opportunity to enjoy menu items and daily chef specials while relaxing on both lounge seating or traditional cafe seating.

The restaurant will officially open to the public, serving lunch, on Wednesday, January 16th.

“Bay Bistro was added to reposition the Convention Center as a destination rather than just a venue for special events,” says Eric Blanc, director of sales and marketing at the Center. “As we continue to separate ourselves from the competition, Bay Bistro, as well as The Sail Pavilion (located on Tampa's Riverwalk), are keys to our success in providing that memorable experience we wish to provide our guests.”

A year in the making, Blanc says the Tampa Convention Center is focusing efforts on customer experience and satisfaction.

Bay Bistro is expected to feature an eclectic menu with items including Southern-Fried Green Tomatoes, Brie-L-T, Grilled Mahi Mahi, Bay Bistro Fritters, Chicken Mole Quesadillas and Portobello Steak Salad. Prices will range from $6 to $12.

“The Convention Center is not just a convention center to be used by visitors to Tampa. It is our goal to provide quality events and activities that the citizens of Tampa can participate in and enjoy,” Blanc says. “Bay Bistro is only the beginning of an exciting development that will culminate with Tampa's waterfront becoming one of the best waterfront destinations in the country.”

For Bay Bistro hours and more information, visit the Tampa Convention Center website.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Eric Blanc, Tampa Convention Center

Former Bank To Become Boutique Hotel, Downtown Tampa

The former Mercantile Bank building in downtown Tampa will soon undergo a renovation into a 130-room boutique hotel.

Located at Ashley Drive and Kennedy Boulevard at 100 W. Kennedy Blvd., the eight-story Mercantile Bank building was built in 1964, overlooking the Hillsborough River and the University of Tampa (UT). Now, Aloft Hotels, a national brand of hotels owned by Connecticut-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts, will revamp the former bank into a boutique hotel expected to open by early 2014.

“While we already own several premier hotels in the Tampa Bay area, my family has specifically been focused on developing a hotel in downtown Tampa for years,” says Punit Shah of Clearwater-based Liberty Group, who will own and manage the Aloft project as part of a collaboration with Santosh Govindaraju of Tampa's Convergent Capital Partners. “This project presents the perfect opportunity to own the hippest hotel in the most dynamic location in Tampa Bay."

The building was purchased by private equity firm Convergent Capital Partners for $2 million in early May 2012. An additional $7 million is expected as an investment into the renovation of the building with work beginning by May 2013.

The Aloft Downtown Tampa renovation will include 130 rooms, seawall repairs, a 4,000-square-foot rooftop terrace overlooking the infamous UT minarets, a 24-hour fitness center, new elevators and roof, and a waterfront pool. Orlando-based Baker Barrios Architects will act as lead architect and interior designer on the project.

“We want this to be a place where people meet at the hotel for a drink, have a walk down the Riverwalk or sit on the outdoor patio and see that gorgeous view of the University of Tampa,” Govindaraju says.

Upon opening, Aloft's Tampa location will be the fifth Aloft hotel in Florida; Aloft currently has 60 hotels in 10 countries.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Punit Shah, Liberty Group & Santosh Govindaraju, Convergent Capital Partners

Sight Properties Renovates 1920s Apartments, Tampa

Ybor City real estate consulting firm Sight Properties, in conjunction with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Simeon Rice, has renovated a 1920s apartment building that's been vacant for more than five years.

The two-story, 12-unit, 10,000-square-foot complex now known as Il Nascondiglio is located at 4211 North A St. in Tampa and was allegedly used by Al Capone back in the day. The building underwent a $270,000 renovation and restoration.

“They don't build apartments like this anymore,” says Michael Mincberg of Sight Properties. “The shape of the building, amount of windows, interior hallways and woodwork that gave the building its charm would not make financial sense to rebuild. It reminded myself and Simeon of the apartments we see in Chicago and we really felt we could give it a swanky feel.”

The property was foreclosed on by a private lender and was purchased for $330,000; the adjacent lot with enough space for 12 townhomes was purchased for an additional $165,000. Vanguard Real Estate brokered the deal and will be managing rentals.

According to Mincberg, almost every piece of original wood in the building was rotted due to a failed renovation by the previous owner. Rebuilding the structure piece by piece, central air conditioning and all new plumbing and electrical work was installed, as well as a new roof, drywall, stucco, windows and paint.

The exterior of Il Nascondiglio -- Italian for “the hideout” -- now has a Mediterranean feel with the interior highlighting some of the building's historical features, but with a contemporary twist. The renovation took approximately four months.

Rice acted as an equity partner and was involved in the entire creative process of the renovation and restoration from the finishes and design to marketing of the building. Mincberg says Rice would give final approval.

“This wasn't a huge project, but it will have a huge affect on its block: This was the worst building and many of the residents would find squatters in the property,” Mincberg says. “Il Nascondiglio has become the gem of the block -- and to rebuild the urban corridor, you have to do it one house or one block at a time.”

Sight Properties has several projects underway that stray from the standard cookie cutter project. Focusing on single family and multifamily units, Sight has projects in the works north of Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa and in downtown St. Petersburg.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Michael Mincberg, Sight Properties

New Nature Park, Trails Open In New Tampa

A new city park is now open in New Tampa for active residents and visitors to enjoy outdoor activities such as bicycling and ziplining.

Located at 17001 Dona Michelle Dr. in New Tampa, the 122-acre New Tampa Nature Park connects to Hillsborough County's 7-mile, 400-acre Flatwoods Park trail system. Together, the two parks give Tampa Bay area residents access to miles of trails and preserved green space; not to mention the opportunity to keep an eye out for native wildlife.

“The New Tampa Nature Park is a great, active park,” says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

An elevated boardwalk -- “nature walk'' -- crossing a wetland habitat, elevated "marsh walk,” rock and rope playground climber, zip lining system and a one-half mile long entrance road are among some of the activities offered at the new Nature Park.

“Children can explore nature,” Buckhorn says. “Our commitment to New Tampa is not just in roads and sewers, but is embodied in our parks and playgrounds, as well.”

Funded through Community Investment Taxes, Phase I of the project cost approximately $927,469, including stormwater control elements and parking for 22 cars and two buses. General contractor for Phase I was QGS Development, Inc.

Land for the 122-acre park was acquired through assistance with the Florida Communities Trust Preservation 2000 and Hillsborough County Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection programs.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Mayor Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa

HuB Attracts Entrepreneurs To New Workspace, Sarasota

Sarasota's HuB, a creative and collaborative space and community allowing entrepreneurs to come together to develop ideas and contribute toward building a new economy and culture, has opened a new space.

Since 2009, HuB has been active in promoting big ideas in the Sarasota area and their renovation of a 10,000-square-foot building at 1680 Fruitville Rd. is continuing to embrace that concept by housing innovative tech companies, entrepreneurs and creative/tech start ups. HuB founder Rich Swier Jr. worked on the renovation with Sarasota's HOYT Architects and Biter Enterprises.

“We're looking to create a new economy based on creativity,” Swier says. “We wanted to be more centrally located -- downtown -- near a vibrant, creative community.”

The first floor of HuB's new space houses Florida Shores Bank with the second, third and fourth floors offering workspace to tech companies; the third floor is also home to an incubator/collaborative space to local entrepreneurs and startups. A full production studio, bar and event space are among some of the building's features.

A grand opening event for the new Fruitville Road location was hosted on December 8th, featuring a digital show in collaboration with Sarasota's own Ringling College of Art and Design.

Each month, HuB hosts the Entrepreneur Symposium, imviting memebers to network, discuss and share thoughts on entrepreneurship in a non-traditional setting. The Tech Symposium is also hosted monthly, covering a wide range of topics around technology from implementation to innovation.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Rich Swier Jr., HuB

356-Unit Pierhouse Apartments Complex Coming To Channel District

A new 356-unit apartment complex is in the works for the Channel District in Tampa.

Ground broke on the new 4-story Pierhouse Apartments building on Meridian Avenue in April 2012, but major construction is finally underway. The project is working with a more than $550 million dollar budget, ultimately offering Tampa Bay area residents rental units ranging in price between approximately $1,200 per month for a studio and $2,000 per month for 2 bedroom/2 bathroom units with a den.

“We chose the area because we're excited by the job growth of the Tampa area, as well as the up-and-coming artsy edginess of the Channel District,” says Arturo Pena, Pierhouse project manager and VP of Related Development. “ We believe our 356 residential units will help the area's demographics with regards to the Channel District's retail demands.”

In addition to the residential space, the project expects to add nearly 4,800 square feet of retail space, planning to offer residents amenities that can benefit both residents and the neighborhood; Pena suggests a sandwich shop, coffee house and wine bar. Chris Parrado of A.L. Commercial is marketing the retail space, seeking potential tenants.

“We want Pierhouse to continue to build on the transformation of the Channel District -- from its working marina, nautical past to a cool, artsy 24-hour district offering residents a place to live, work and play,” Pena says.

The project will feature a park located directly in the middle of the development and five large, heavily landscaped courtyards -- what Pena expects will be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of urban living.

“Residents will be able to both admire the views and artwork within the park or simply go for a stroll through it,” he says.

Pierhouse Apartments at Channelside will feature interiors and common areas designed by world-renowned interior designers RTKL with MSA Architects designing the development and Walker and Company acting as general contractor.

The on-site leasing office is expected to open by late February 2013 with leasing beginning by mid-May 2013.

“We are confident Pierhouse will be a signature project in the area,” Pena says. “We look forward to becoming an active part of the neighborhood and helping it grow.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Arturo Pena, Pierhouse Apartments at Channelside & Related Development

InVision Tampa Releases Draft Of City Center Plan

Thanks to help and input from nearly 800 Tampa residents, 1,000 online users and AECOM's globally recognized urban planners, the InVision Tampa project has released a draft of its City Center Plan.

The City Center -- a Texas-shaped area of Tampa -- spans from downtown Tampa to Ybor City on the east, Armenia Avenue on the west and north along Nebraska and Hillsborough Avenues, including the University of Tampa (UT) neighborhood, North Hyde ParkWest TampaTampa Heights, Ybor City, V.M. Ybor, downtown Tampa and the Channel District. The City Center Plan will act as a road map to transform the area.

InVision Tampa is going to create a blueprint for downtown Tampa for the next 25 years,” says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “The community input and engagement on this planning effort was just extraordinary. With that kind of collaboration, I am even more confident that, together, we can make this happen.”

The plan focuses on re-centering downtown around the Hillsborough River, connecting area neighborhoods in a pedestrian-safe, transit-friendly manner while improving both the quality of life and economic development in the center of the city.

In the plan, the InVision Tampa team outlines 10 short-term and long-term ideas to help move the City of Tampa forward, helping to improve the city's urban core:

1. Nurture new river places that spur activity and create access to the Hillsborough River and Garrison Channel, extending the economic value of the Center City waterfront.

2. Make the north downtown neighborhoods a multimodal, walkable area that extends the value of the Riverwalk and cultural venues east to Nebraska Avenue.

3. Establish streets and parks as primary elements of civic identity to catalyze downtown as the location of choice for new private development investment in the region.

4. Redevelop south downtown in a pattern of streets, blocks and public spaces that connect the Channel District with venues in the Downtown Core.

5. Reposition street corridors from traffic conduits to residentially oriented, balanced “Neighborhood Connectors” and local business “Main Streets.”

6. Rebalance Tampa and Florida Avenues as local streets, joining neighborhoods while providing regional access.

7. Develop an attractive, safe, cross-city, multipurpose trail that links the eastern and western Center City to neighborhoods and the Riverwalk.

8. Create a premium local transit route crossing the river from the Channel District to North Hyde Park to link residential, employment, and academic areas and capture “choice riders” as a mechanism for both transportation and economic development.

9. Continue on the mission of repositioning the large parcels of property within the Center City for development while supporting grassroots efforts for neighborhood improvements.

10. Leverage substantial education and healthcare assets and investments by linking their large workforce and student populations with community revitalization.

“In the draft process, we really took advantage of online social media. Residents provided input on what they liked and what they wanted to see more of in the downtown area,” says City of Tampa Urban Planning Coordinator Randy Goers. “We needed to take a look at our urban core because it hasn't been looked at in this standpoint in almost 20 years. We needed to take a look at a bigger area -- a more comprehensive look.”

Beginning in early December, expect additional outreach by the InVision Team as a draft plan focusing on the Nebraska Corridor develops, including community charrettes in early December. By early January, the project expects to begin a multi-year revitalization and transformation of the West Tampa area.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Mayor Bob Buckhorn & Randy Goers, City of Tampa

Net Zero Energy Building Opens In St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg's first self-sustaining, net zero building celebrated its grand opening on Monday, December 3rd.

As Florida's first designated green city, St. Petersburg is the new home of the Sierra Club's state headquarters and Big Sea Design and Development and Roundhouse Creative offices.

Built by All Florida Management with partners Bosch and Florida garden center Twig Leaves, St. Pete's first self-sustaining, net zero building is a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum applicant, fully equipped with environmentally friendly solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, a water-to-air geothermal heat exchange system, glare-reducing thermal barrier window tinting, green spaces with native landscaping, rainwater harvesting and a weekly recycling program.

In other words: zero energy bill.

“These days, green businesses aren't just focused on developing earth-friendly technologies -- they are committed to offering a product or service that consumers know has little to no environmental impact,” says Tom Hall, the building's developer and managing partner of All Florida Management. “The emergence of this new green business culture has allowed our company to focus on meeting the needs of the small business community by dedicating ourselves to cultivating environmentally conscious commercial building platforms that reflect both our clients' personal and professional values.”

Roundhouse Creative is one of those small businesses looking to take advantage of everything the new eco-friendly building has to offer; Andrew Lee and his wife, Brooke, founded their production studio in 2007, focused on telling powerful stories and creating beautiful designs. Roundhouse Creative moved into a 2,600-square-foot space in the new building that is shared with Big Sea Design and Development.

“We made the decision years ago in our personal lives to be conscious of the environment and are excited about what being net zero will mean to our customers,” says Lee. “By hiring Roundhouse Creative, our customers can now benefit from the fact that their new website, TV commercial or web video has been produced with a near net zero environmental impact.”

With Roundhouse Creative's new space currently open for business, Lee looks forward to thriving in downtown St. Pete: What he calls a regional hub for art, culture and great food.

“Innovative, forward-thinking projects like this building are a perfect fit for the city and add to why I love St. Pete. I couldn't be more excited about what this project means for the area,” he says. “I hope other business owners become educated on the benefits of net zero and understand that they can now make conscious decisions for their business with the environment and future generations in mind.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Tom Hall, All Florida Management & Andrew Lee, Roundhouse Creative

Volunteers Renovate Sulphur Springs Homes, Tampa

United Way HandsOn Suncoast and Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay (RTTB) show what a little paint and a handful of volunteers can do to improve a neighborhood.

As part of a collaborative effort with RTTB, United Way volunteers came together November 3 to help renovate four low-income Sulphur Springs homes; the homes are part of RTTB's Healthy Homes for Sulphur Springs initiative funded by JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the Allegany Franciscan Ministries.

More than one dozen volunteers -- from licensed general contractors to local residents looking to spend a Saturday doing a good deed -- painted scuffed up exterior walls, repaired damaged roofs and faulty plumbing, pressure cleaned, planted new greenery and worked on small woodwork projects.

“We are committed to keep delivering -- along with our corporate partners -- healthy homes for residents in Sulphur Springs,” says RTTB Board President Beverly Minardi. “We want to thank those that volunteer for making this happen.”

With the support of more than 100 volunteers, RTTB preserves and revitalizes Tampa Bay area homes and communities to ensure that all homeowners, including those in lower-income neighborhoods, live in warmth, safety and independence.

“Our main focus is to revitalize one neighborhood at a time,” says RTTB Project Manager Mark Zdrojewski.

RTTB's goal is to keep affordable housing in the area, sparking economic development in the neighborhoods served. Since April 2011, the organization has completed renovations on more than 30 homes in the St. Pete area alone.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Beverly Minardi & Mark Zdrojewski, RTTB
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