| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Development News

733 Articles | Page: | Show All

Lutz Coffeehouse Expands, Opens New Shop In Palm Harbor

A successful Christian-based coffeehouse in Lutz, a commuter town in Hillsborough County north of Tampa, is making plans for expansion and has opened a second store in Palm Harbor, north of Clearwater in Pinellas County.

With the motto "More Than Just a Coffeehouse,'' Organic Life Coffeehouse offers fresh homemade baked goods, salads and wraps made with organic and locally purchased vegetables, all natural smoothies, and organic fair trade coffee. By day, you'll find a myriad of customers, including business folks conducting one-on-one meetings, people in corners on laptops and moms with their toddlers enjoying a treat. Some evenings live entertainment is added to the mix.

The coffeehouse off of State Road 54 in Lutz has a strong community focus, making it a favored location for group meetings. It was these meetings that sparked the expansion that will include offices and meeting space.

"We have a lot of groups of 10 or 12 people come in, and we don't get a lot of walk-in traffic during that time,'' says Glenn Deller, co-partner and co-owner.

He says he expansion is the result of community partnerships. A storefront a few doors down became vacant, and Deller convinced the children's consignment store next door to move there, making the adjacent space available. A local School of Ministry is financing some of the build out and placing an office in the new space. Local church members are donating time and services.

"We're very happy to be taking care of youth groups, doing community fundraisers, and assisting the community,'' says Deller.

Groups of 10 or more will be able to reserve space for meetings, provided they place a minimum food order while there. The meeting space is scheduled to open in mid-September or early October.

Organic Life's second location is at 35263 U.S. Hwy. 19 N. in Palm Harbor. This was made possible by a financial investment by Deller’s mother and father-in law, Joanne and Larry Davidson, who will be running the second location. Joanne Davidson does a majority of the baking for the current store, and the second location will provide economies of scale for both places. Most of the menu is the same, but the space is smaller with not as much live entertainment.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Glenn Deller, Organic Life Coffeehouse

City-Developed Website Brings Development, Investors To St. Pete

The number of building permits issued in St. Petersburg is up about 10 percent during the last year, rising from 12,701 in 2011 to 13,869 in 2012. The construction value associated with building permit activity also increased.

With approximately $232 million now in construction values permitted for 2012, the fiscal year is in the running for being the highest building permit activity since 2007. City officials attribute some of the activity to more accessible information provided by Blue Chip, an online map service developed by the City of St. Pete.

“Blue Chip helps promote future development efforts in the community through the pre-selection process of prime sites, which must meet a 5-point criteria for inclusion on the Google Map application service,” says Kimberly Bailey, the the city's economic development analyst and Blue Chip developer. "Blue Chip is then promoted to Real Estate business journals and publications for investor attraction from around the world.''

Designed to identify prime real estate properties available for development and investor interest, the site launched in November 2011 and has seen eight of the initial Blue Chip properties sold with two additional sites under contract for purchase.

Blue Chip information is categorized by land acreage or zoning designation, providing contact information for the listing's real estate broker. The site also provides a link to the city's six major business clusters: medical technology and life sciences; information technology; marine and environmental sciences; financial services; manufacturing; and arts, culture, events and tourism.

“Residents can benefit from the site to determine if any prime Blue Chip parcels have been identified within their nearby business activity corridor, which brings investor awareness to their section of the community for the development and redevelopment of currently underutilized land,” Bailey says.

According to Bailey, Blue Chip has had more than 620 unique website visits, giving St. Pete international exposure to the United Kingdom, Canada, France, India, Kenya, The Philippines, Portugal and Siberia.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Kimberly Bailey, City of St. Pete

New Trees, Artsy Bridge Lighting Spruce Up Downtown Tampa

Almost 800 strategically planted new trees and artsy lightning along Tampa's downtown bridges are among the most noticiable improvements made by the City of Tampa in preparation for the RNC.

The Opportunity Corridors Project planted 782 indigenous trees such as Southern Red Cedar, Chickasaw Plum and Sabal Palms along major streets in downtown neighborhoods; irrigation and lighting were also installed.

Agua Luces by Artist Tracey Dear features colorful lighting along five of nine downtown bridges, including the Platt Street Bridge, Brorein Street Bridge, Kennedy Boulevard Bridge, the Crosstown Expressway overpass and CSX Railroad Bridge.

The downtown Opportunity Corridors -- what Mayor Bob Buckhorn calls the “front doors” of the city -- include Bayshore Boulevard from Platt Street to Rome Avenue, Ashley Drive, the Organe/Jefferson Interchange, Union Station, Laurel Street, Franklin Street and Nuccio Parkway.

“Mayor Buckhorn believes that major transportation arteries are economic development opportunities,” says David Vaughn,  City of Tampa director of contract administrations.

The city plans to expand the tree plantings in concentric circles beyond downtown.  The goal is to encourage the improved corridors to grow neighborhood support through retail, creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment.

Agua Luces is an initiative of the Lights On Tampa Committee, Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: David Vaughn, City of Tampa

HART Breaks Ground On First Public Bus Rapid Transit, Hillsborough

MetroRapid North-South, the first public transit system of its kind in Hillbsborough County, aims to speed up travel between  downtown Tampa and the University of South Florida.

Local business and community leaders gathered with HART staff on Monday, August 6th, to celebrate the historic groundbreaking, which marks the beginning construction phase of the project. About $31 million from the Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax (CIT) will pay for the design and construction phases of the project. As of June 2012, costs of the MetroRapid N-S project are estimated to be under budget by $5.7 million.

"Ridership continues (to increase) for HART, and has been for the past several years, and with this form of rapid transit being introduced, we're on track to meet transportation needs for residents of the county," says HART Public Information Officer Marcia Mejia. "Several studies were done before MetroRapid was planned and we found that the North-South corridor is one of the busiest with ridership activity."

Featuring elements of bus rapid transit, MetroRapid N-S will run 17.5 miles along Nebraska and Fletcher Avenues in Tampa, from the HART Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa to Telecom Park/Hidden River Corporate Park, west of Interstate 75. The new system is expected to improve travel-time savings by approximately 15 percent, using GPS-based Transit Signal Priority (TSP) technology at selected intersections to shorten red lights and lengthen green lights.

“MetroRapid N-S will connect downtown Tampa to USF -- two major employment centers,” Mejia says. “In addition, the corridor overlays what are currently the busiest routes, allowing a large portion of our ridership to benefit from faster, more frequent service.”

According to Mejia, several routes feed into the MetroRapid N-S corridor. Fewer stops along the corridor supply added convenience; local bus routes have bus stops every 750 to 1,250 feet while MetroRapid's 59 stops are spaced out about every 2,600 to 4,000 feet.

"Added features like the ticket vending machines will provide additional travel time savings because you don't have to wait for folks to pay on board," Mejia says.

A new park and ride facility is planned in Hidden River Corporate Park, serving the northeast end of the line. MetroRapid N-S construction is slated to be complete and open to Tampa Bay area residents and visitors by 2013.

In July, HART ridership was up by six percent with 60,998 more bus trips taken compared to July 2011. HART is expected to operate extra bus and streetcar service during August's Republican National Convention, providing public transportation options between Ybor City and Channelside.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Marcia Mejia, HART

East Tampa Community Builds Playground, Ragan Park

Joined by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Florida Rep. Dana D. Young, representatives of Humana, the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership, V.M. Ybor Neighborhood Association, KaBOOM! and community volunteers recently came together for a legacy project playground build associated with the 2012 Republican National Convention (RNC).

Benefiting the East Tampa community well beyond August's RNC event in Tampa, a new, one-of-a-kind, multigenerational playground was built at Ragan Park at 1200 E. Lake Ave. in just six hours on Saturday, August 11th. The unique 3,780-square-foot space features equipment designed to serve all ages from kids to seniors.

“The site was selected before our neighborhood's involvement and it is my understanding that the selection was based on replacement needs and the site's ability to incorporate some multigenerational components such as exercise and fitness stations,” says Kim Headland, president of the V.M. Ybor Neighborhood Association. “Humana was a willing partner and Ragan Park needed a new playground -- what better timing!”

Prior to recent investment, Ragan Park featured an older, worn playground desperately in need of replacement; the old play space was recently removed in preparation for Saturday's volunteer-based event. The park also features a small building for community events, a pond and a walking trail.

The new, customized playground, funded primarily by Humana and East Tampa TIF funding, was created by personal drawings and suggestions from local community members in an attempt to create a lasting neighborhood legacy promoting healthy play and living.

“The V.M. Ybor Neighborhood Association, in partnership with the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership, have been part of the KaBOOM! process since the preparations began for Saturday's Design Day,” Headland says. “Participation has ranged from weekly conference calls, solicitations for community donations, recruitment of volunteers and dissemination of information throughout the community.”

Approximately $43 million in projects throughout the Tampa Bay region is expected to be spent in conjunction with the 2012 RNC. In addition to 18 playgrounds being built by Humana and KaBOOM! across the United States, a playground will also be built in Charlotte, N.C. prior to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in September.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Kim Headland, V.M. Ybor Neighborhood Association

Kimley Horn Moves To Downtown Tampa, Goes Green

Providing a wide-range of consulting services for roadways, bridges, traffic signals, airports, land developments and landscape architecture, Kimley-Horn and Associates (KHA) recently celebrated the opening of its new office in downtown Tampa.

With 18 offices and more than 400 employees in Florida, the nationally-recognized Raleigh, N.C.-based firm opened their first office in Tampa in 1978. Making the move to 655 N. Franklin St. in downtown Tampa, KHA's new 7,100-square-foot office currently houses 23 employees.

“The combination of the location of some of the staff's homes, client locations and professional relationships made being in a more central location like the downtown area a strong contender for places to look for new office spaces,” says KHA Director of Communications Julie Beauvais.

According to Beauvais, the firm considered locations in downtown and Ybor City before deciding on the North Franklin Street space, working with Gensler Architects on interior design and Solutions General Contractors for the space build-out.

Since the move, KHA has taken pride in significantly reducing their carbon footprint: Thanks to the convenience of the downtown location, approximately 25 percent of the staff bike to work and lunch every week. Prior to the move, Beauvais says they found the majority of their staff driving more than 10 miles daily to get to work alone.

“The office morale has never been higher,” says David Walthall, KHA downtown office leader. “The work environment helped the collaboration between an already close group of co-workers, giving folks variety in their daily routine with all that downtown has to offer during work and after work hours -- hardly anyone gets in their car to drive to lunch."

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Julie Beauvais & David Walthall, KHA

Manatee Renovates Historic Courthouse, Bradenton

Manatee County recently celebrated the completion of a $2.9 million renovation project on the county's Historic Courthouse.

Funded by Manatee's general fund, improvement work on the 100-year-old courthouse employed nearly 80 local workers, taking about 15 months to complete: The project, which came under budget by by $72,468, involved replacing the building's roof, windows, parapet, cornice and parts of its trademark brick facade.

“Structural deficiencies were mounting at the building -- from cracks in the facade to chipping cornice to leaky roofs -- and were becoming a public safety issue. Postponing these repairs would have only worsened the condition, jeopardizing the future of one of Manatee County's most historic structures,” says Nicholas Azzara, Manatee County government spokesman. “The recent upgrades have not only improved energy efficiencies, but they've also brought the building up to hurricane-resistant standards to ensure that the records of this community are extremely secure.”

Inside of the courthouse, 1,602 light bulbs, 1,177 ballasts and a number of lamps and sockets were replaced with energy-saving components. Since the renovation, energy costs at the building have dropped by more than 50 percent; three years ago, the county was paying approximately $17,000 per month versus the approximately $7,500 paid since the renovation.

“We think the community will take great pride in this renovation,” Azzara says. “It's the site of so many celebrations throughout the year: From events commemorating fallen firemen, policemen and veterans to concerts and festivals on the lawn. These are the kinds of events that weave the community together.”

In 2011, the county used a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to complete a separate improvement project, connecting a new energy-efficient chiller to the Historic Courthouse; new equipment was installed in place of the old, delivering fresh air into the building. According to Azzara, this project has produced savings of approximately $138,000 per year in energy and maintenance costs.

A centerpiece of architecture in downtown Bradenton, the Manatee County Historic Courthouse is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Nicholas Azzara, Manatee County

Sense Of Place: Tampa Riverwalk Historic Monument Trail

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) recently approved a $120,000 grant for the Riverwalk Historical Monument Trail, matching private funds raised for the project.

Part of the county's Historic Preservation Challenge Grant Program, the grant was unanimously approved by the BOCC, allowing the county to continue with its project honoring significant events and noteworthy people that have helped shaped the history of Tampa and Hillsborough County. The trail will wind around the  Tampa Riverwalk, serving as an educational tool to residents and visitors walking along the Hillsborough River.

“Tampa has a really rich history and, unfortunately, for many decades, we have not done a great job at preserving that history and honoring the people who have made it happen,” says Steve Anderson, chair of the Historical Monument Trail Committee. “We really want to help people understand and develop a sense of pride for where they live.”

Six people are slated to be honored each year, with current honorees including Clara Frye, humanitarian and founder of Tampa's first hospital for African Americans; cigar manufacturer and Ybor City namesake Vicente Martinez-Ybor; the first Floridians (moundbuilding Indians); businessman and railroad magnet Henry Bradley Plant; James McKay, businessman and early maritime developer; and suffragist Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain. Friends of the Riverwalk will work in conjunction with the Tampa History Center to honor more than 30 along the trail.

“These monuments are going to placed along the Riverwalk so when guests from out of city and state walk along our beautiful Riverwalk, they will be able to stop periodically and see ... these historically significant people,” Anderson says. “Visitors will be able to read a little bit about how these people contributed to where this community is today.”

Completion and installation of the first six monuments is expected by Fall 2012; the first six clay busts by local artist and sculptor Steve Dickey of Dickey Studios are complete, ready for firing. According to Anderson, the public can submit significant events and historic persons they wish to see featured along the trail.

In June 2012, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced that the 2.6-mile Riverwalk received a $10.9 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to make way on filling two major gaps in the Riverwalk: one segment going south of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park under the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge and a second going north from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts to Water Works Park

According to Anderson, the Historical Monument Trail is the first of many projects planned to bring art, history, education and entertainment to the Tampa Riverwalk.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Steve Anderson, Tampa Riverwalk Historical Monument Trail

FDOT: Elevating Safety For Pedestrians On Florida Streets

Walkability and bikeability are key factors when it comes to choosing where to live. That's why a new safety awareness campaign aimed at reducing fatalities among pedestrians matters not only for individuals but also for the greater Tampa Bay region's local economy.

The four-week campaign, which kicked off in Hillsborough County and Miami-Dade County, is part of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)'s ongoing initiative to reduce bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities. “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow ... Safety Doesn't Happen By Accident” will be presented to the public through media outlets, local education and enforcement activities.

“We recognize the importance of educating drivers and pedestrians with respect to the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians and safe walking practices,” says FDOT Public Information Officer Kris Carson.

According to Carson, the FDOT is always working to improve the roadways for pedestrians by providing adequate pedestrian signal timings, improved signage and lighting for enhanced visibility, raised medians and refuge islands.

In the Tampa Bay region, the FDOT has spent more than $2 million high-intensity pavement markings, more and better sidewalks, additional countdown pedestrian signals, and new sidewalk and boardwalk along Dale Mabry Highway.

Pedestrian deaths in Florida are almost double the national average; if the Tampa Bay region were a state, it would rank number 16 in the nation for pedestrian fatalities.

Carson says 22.7 percent of all traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries involve pedestrians and bicyclists with 48 percent of pedestrians being killed when crossing the road at non-intersections; 43 percent of pedestrian traffic fatalities occur at night, on illuminated streets, and alcohol is a factor in just more than 40 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Kris Carson, FDOT

Health, Wellness Network To Move Into Grand Central At Kennedy, Tampa

Health & Wellness Network -- parent company of Health & Wellness Channel (HWC) -- is moving to the Channel District.

A one-stop-shop for all things life, love and longevity, HWC will develop a 60,000-square-foot space in the Grand Central at Kennedy building in Channelside into its new headquarters. The space is expected to include four separate television studios, a 22,000-square-foot mezzanine for offices and 38,000 square feet of studio space, production offices, engineering and storage for Marketplace products.

According to HWC Founder Drew Nederpelt, the location also comes equipped with a street level studio space, Studio B, which can be viewed from the street much like the Today Show set-up in New York City.

“Just like in Rockefeller Center, there's a courtyard at Grand Central that we can use for concerts, fitness demonstrations, cooking contests and the like,” Nederpelt says. “There will be at least one morning each week that we'll have a celebrity in town for some type of event in the courtyard, which will bring people to the area.”

Joining tenants such as Channelside Bay Plaza, Powerhouse Gym and the Tampa Bay Times Forum, HWC is expected to bring in 85 employees in its first year of operation at the new location, as well as several hundred in the following years.

“We will not only increase demand for housing in the area, but also raise existing homeowners' investment values,” Nederpelt says. “Our ultimate goal is to make the Tampa Bay area the center of health and wellness in the United States. We're interested in helping along Channelside's current march toward a vibrant and bustling residential and entertainment destination, choosing to open up not only our studio, but also our Master and Studio Control to the viewing public in hopes that it will imbue the residents of the area with a sense of pride and ownership in the network and the overall health and wellness movement.

The network is slated to be in place at its new location by the end of 2012.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Drew Nederpelt, HWC

Newland Builds New Community In Apollo Beach

A new-home, master-planned community by Newland Communities is coming to Apollo Beach.

Located on approximately 1,300 acres 15 miles south of Tampa off of Big Bend Road in Apollo Beach, the new Waterset community (think: FishHawk Ranch and Westchase) is estimated to become a 3,800-home community upon completion. Homes start at $170,000.

First-phase amenities include The Landing with a community pool, fitness center, pier overlooking a lake and a clubhouse with an Information Center and cafe offering coffee, tea, smoothies and snacks.

“We're very excited about the grand opening of Waterset. We have teamed up with some of the area's best builders to offer a variety of home styles and designs to appeal to all kinds of families,” says Newland Communities Marketing Director Pam Parisi. “Our consumer research told us that buyers today need to see the community amenities from day one and we're committed to having The Landing open on grand opening day in the fall.”

Currently, amenities at The Landing are under construction, as well as nine model homes, offering a variety of architectural styles to choose from including Craftsman, Classical and Mediterranean. The first phase of Waterset will include work by home builders Ashton Woods Homes, Cardel Homes, David Weekley Homes and Homes by WestBay. In addition, the Montessori Preschool at Waterset is under construction and is expected to open by winter.

“Now, more than ever, there is a higher value placed on real connections among families, neighbors and community,” says Parisi. “Our hope is that Waterset will make it easy for people to actively connect, establish roots and live life in their own ways.”

Builder plans and pricing for Waterset homes will be released during an exclusive preview event on August 1st with plans and pricing being released to the public on the community website on August 2nd.

Newland Communities is currently working on developing additional new-home, master-planned communities including Circa FishHawk and MiraBay.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Pam Parisi, Newland Communities

Clearwater Improves Water At Prospect Lake Park

Construction recently began on an improvement project on Clearwater's Prospect Lake Park.

Located in downtown Clearwater at Prospect Avenue and Franklin Street, the approximately $800,000 project is designed to  improve the water quality of Prospect Lake, which serves as a regional stormwater pond for an area of the downtown district; the pond ultimately discharges into Clearwater Harbor.

According to City of Clearwater Engineering Department Environmental Specialist Sarah Josuns, sediment has built up in Prospect Lake. Using a dredge to remove the sediment, the lake will also be expanded to the south; various wetland plants will also be added to the south end of the pond.

“With the expansion of the lake, stormwater will have additional detention time while the new littoral shelf with wetland plants will have an opportunity to absorb nutrients,” Josuns says. “Stormwater is directed to this lake so many properties in the area do not need to have their own pond.”

Funded by stormwater utility fees, the sediment removal phase is already underway and is expected to be complete by early December 2012. The second phase including pond expansion and wetland plantings will begin in early 2013. Phase two is slated to take about six months, with completion planned for July 2013.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Sarah Josuns, City of Clearwater

New Park, Improvements Planned For St. Pete

St. Petersburg residents and outdoors lovers are in for a treat: The City is planning a new park for the area.

In the early stages of the planning process, the new $1.6 million park is being developed for the vacated Rio Vista Elementary School site at 6th Street and 83rd Avenue N.E. in St. Pete; a public meeting was held on July 25th, discussing conceptual plans for the proposed Rio Vista Park.

“It has long been recognized that northeast St. Petersburg is lacking in recreational opportunities,” says City Parks and Field Operations Superintendent Phil Whitehouse. “The Parks and Recreation Department tries to look at service levels in all areas of the City to provide equal opportunities for recreation. This park will provide an avenue for recreation where one does not currently exist.”

Funded by Weeki-Wachee funds that were set aside for recreational projects, Whitehouse says a large portion of the budget wil go toward the demolition of the school that currently sites on the park site.

The City is currently also working on an approximately $700,000 master/management plan addressing concerns at Maximo Park at 34th Street South and Pinellas Point Drive. Funded by Penny for Pinellas and the Florida Boating Improvement Program, Maximo is expected to include renovated boat ramps, restrooms, new educational signage and native plantings upon completion.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Phil Whitehouse, City of St. Pete

Grow Financial Credit Union Opens, Downtown Tampa

Staying true to its name, Grow Financial Credit Union is continuing to grow, opening its 19th branch in the Tampa Bay region.

Headquartered in Tampa, the new downtown branch is slated to open an approximately 2,200-square-foot branch on North Tampa Street. Featuring what Grow Financial Marketing Communications Specialist Adrienne Drew calls "an innovative and refreshing alternative to traditional bank lobby designs,'' the new location will include a virtual money machine, cash recyclers and large product information LCD screens.

"The new branch in downtown features a completely new style compared to our other branches -- framed on a retail model that features member service stations allowing employees to engage members with an open dialog for their banking needs,'' Drew says. "The overall atmosphere will offer a very modern and casual environment, which is different from most styles of banking.''

Creating a sense of warmth for members, the branch will also feature a coffee and water service station.

"It's time to expand more into areas where we feel our branch will appeal to our members,'' Drew says. "Our new location will not only better serve those who work in the area, but provide a significant measure of exposure and awareness for our brand and approach to banking.''

Opened in 1955 on MacDill Air Force Base, Grow Financial currently has 18 branches with plans to open new branches in Lakeland and Wesley Chapel by 2013; expansion out of the state of Florida is expected 2014. Since January 2012, the credit union hired approximately 70 new employees.

"We want to expand our footprint in the Tampa Bay area and downtown Tampa seemed like the perfect start.''

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Adrienne Drew, Grow Financial Credit Union

New College Of Florida Begins Library Plaza Renovation, Bell Tower Project

New College of Florida students will see changes on campus when they return in the fall.

Implementing various parts of its 2006 Campus Master Plan, New College recently began a $300,000 renovation on the plaza in front of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library. Sharing the facility with the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, a key component of the project is the construction of a new $400,000 bell tower. The timing of the library plaza renovation is tied to the Fall 2011 opening of the new campus Academic Center and Plaza, located adjacent of the library.

"Over the last few years, New College has been implementing various parts of its Master Plan, which includes urban design components to foster a greater sense of community to enhance the educational and environmental experience for students, faculty and staff,'' says Linda Joffe, New College associate director of public affairs.

According to Joffe, the plan marked an important step in the college's transition back to an independent campus on its historical property, which encompass the former estates of Charles Ringling and Ralph Caples; in 2001, New College separated itself from USF, becoming Florida's independent honors college.

Located between Ringling Plaza and College Drive -- just north of the Ringling Museum and Asolo Repertory Theatre -- the entire plaza in front of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library will be "scraped,'' making way for designs by Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture of St. Petersburg: new pavers, landscaping, lighting, grass, raised planters and tables with attached seating.

In addition, a 64-foot bell tower, designed by Renker-Eich-Parks Architects of St. Petersburg, will evoke New College's historic Four Winds seal and the "building on learning'' concept. The obelisk-style tower will feature four twisting, precast concrete pilasters held together by two rings. Mounted between the rings will be four bells built by French company Paccard, the "Stradivarius of bell makers.'' Currently, more than 120,000 Paccard bells are located in cities and villages throughout the world.

"The modernist bell tower is a welcomed addition to campus architecture. On many college campuses, a bell tower is a landmark and New College wanted to give its students a similar experience,'' Joffe says. "The project is expected to further transform the heart of the campus, creating a seamless, communal outdoor space -- the perfect transition between the historic Ringling-era campus and residential campus.''

According to Joffe, the four bells can be programmed to produce a wide range of melodies. The college hopes that students in the music program will embrace an opportunity to create original music to be played by the new bells.

Funds for the $700,000 project are provided by a $400,000 donation by philanthropists and community leader Beverly Koski with the remaining $300,000 designated by state of Florida infrastructure funding. Project manager and New College Senior Architect Jack Whelan expects the project to be complete by October 2012.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Linda Joffe, New College of Florida
733 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts