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Moving to Tampa: New luxury apartments coming to Westshore

The Westshore area of Tampa, long known as a thriving business district, continues to grow as a residential community with the addition of The Westly, a new luxury apartment complex under construction. The 262-unit apartment complex joins other new developments including Grady Square and the Crescent, also under construction.

The Westly is a multimillion dollar project that the Framework Group is developing, and was formerly known as the 4310 Spruce project. The decision to build a complex on Spruce was a strategic one based on serving the needs of the existing Westshore area.

“We chose to build in Westshore because we wanted to target young professionals, and Westshore has the largest employment base in the Tampa region,” Framework President Phillip Smith says. “We also liked the proximity to retail and restaurants in the area.”  

Apartments range from approximately 600-square-feet for a studio to over 1,600-square-feet for a three-bedroom. Smith says what sets this project apart from other developments is the amenities.

“Apartments on the top floor feature ten-foot-high ceilings, each unit has high-end appliances, the bathrooms feature rain head showers, everything is high-end,” he says.

He goes on to say that the complex will also feature a clubhouse with a sauna and massage rooms, a pool and courtyards, and a gaming room with a golf simulator, multiple televisions, putting green, pool table and casual seating.

Smith, who received his master’s degree from Harvard and bachelor’s degree from Auburn, has several other projects in the works including a 21-story building on Harbour Island and a 220-unit development in downtown Sarasota.

Plans call for the first units at The Westly to be available in June of 2016.

Plans call for 800 new homes in west Hillsborough River neighborhood

More homes are being added to the plans for the West River redevelopment project being designed by the Tampa Housing Authority. Another 800 homes are now envisioned as part of the 1,600 already included in the $500 million redevelopment project.

The West River redevelopment project is part of the city of Tampa’s plans to transform a 194 acres of land along the Hillsborough River into a mixed-income neighborhood. The plan to add 800 new homes was made after re-evaluating the project.
 
After a more complete market study of the urban area affected, "it just made sense to add these additional homes,” says Leroy Moore, COO for the Tampa Housing Authority.  “The opportunity was there, and the market study showed that with the higher number of units being there, the market would support it.”

With the new plan, the 2,400 homes will be mixed-use, but also mixed-income meaning there will be a combination of public housing and market-rate units.

“This is a mixed-income project,” Moore says. “By mixed-income we mean housing that is affordable to persons below 80-percent area medium income being housed in the same building with units that are at market rent as well, so that the diversity of income is all within one building.”

As for when the units will be ready, Moore says it could take time depending on when funding comes through.

“It will be a phase development, which could mean it would be five to 10 years before the units are complete,” he says. “But we could have buildings starting as early as late next year. We are pursuing funding this year to try to get this project underway as soon as possible.”

Gonzmart seeks food service contract at Tampa Convention Center

One of Tampa’s most notable restaurateurs has announced his intentions to provide food service to the Tampa Convention Center.

Richard Gonzmart, most well known as being a co-owner of the Columbia Restaurant group, is teaming up with Lutz-based Spectra by Comcast Spectacor on the project. While there is currently no request for proposals for a food and beverage contract for the Tampa Bay Convention Center, that is not stopping the determined Gonzmart.

“I always said I wanted to be in the convention center,” an enthusiastic Gonzmart said to media gathered along the Tampa Riverwalk on a bright afternoon this past week. “And when you see what we’re going to do, you’re going to say, “Wow, why didn’t somebody else think of that?”

The company Gonzmart is teaming up with, Spectra, is a food service company with service contracts in casinos, sports arenas and other convention centers around the U.S.

While the pair did not give any details about the type of cuisine they plan on serving, Ken Young, founder and president of Spectra assured it would be quality food.

During the press conference, Gonzmart mentioned that jobs would be created should his bid be accepted.

“There will definitely be a positive economic impact,” he saya. “With that will be job creation, it will be a very exciting time for the area. There is so much potential here, and we already have the most beautiful setting with the center located right here on the Hillsborough River. You can take a boat over to Harbour Island, there is this great Riverwalk, it’s a great location.”

Request for proposals on food service bids will be sent out in the next few weeks. Proposals are due in the first quarter of 2016.

Contemporary townhomes rising in North Hyde Park

North Hyde Park will soon have some Cuban flavor as new townhomes are built with the inspiration of the small country less than 100 miles south of Florida. The Las Azoteas townhomes will be located at 405 North Oregon Avenue.

“We came up with the name Las Azoteas because loosely translated it means rooftop, or rooftop terrace, which these townhomes have,” says Michael Mincberg, president of Sight Real Estate. Sight teamed up with local entrepreneurs Renier and Michelle Gobea on the project. “I don’t know of any other townhome in Hyde Park that has a rooftop terrace, which is a shame because we live in Florida, and people should have the ability to enjoy some outdoor living space.”

There will be 39 units total when the project is completed at the end of 2016. Each unit is between 1,700-square-feet and 2,000-square-feet. There are two- and three-bedroom options, as well as one- or two-car attached garages.

“We wanted to provide ample living space for people who want to live in this part of town,” Mincberg says. “There is this urban renaissance going on, where people are moving back to the urban core, and North Hyde Park has more to offer when you look at other neighborhoods, such as the proximity to downtown, being within walking distance to great restaurants, even being zoned for Plant High School. People love that about North Hyde Park for the resale value, even if they don’t have kids.”

In addition to the location, Mincberg says he believes the townhomes will be a hit due to the price point, which will begin in the low $300,000s.

“It is very hard to find a product like this for a price point that low,” he says. “I think this is a product people are starving for, there is nothing like it in the area.”

Westchase foodie alert: New restaurants opening

For all you foodies out there, the Westchase area is serving up two unique options to try the next time you dine out. One is a local favorite expanding and opening a second location in the Tampa Bay area, the other an innovative twist on a new trend.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Known for being one of the first craft breweries in the Tampa Bay area, Tampa Bay Brewing Company  (TBBC) has had digs in Ybor City for nearly two decades. So it was time for the company to do what most of us do at some point in our lives and move to the suburbs.

The second location at 13937 Monroe’s Business Park, is a 17,400-square-foot beer haven with a brewing operation on-site, as well as 4,300-square-feet of restaurant space serving everything from typical pub fare to steak and salmon. The site also features a 3,500-square-foot patio with an outdoor bar and plenty of outdoor seating.

“We wanted to be on the west side of Tampa for our second location,” says Michael Doble, whose family founded TBBC and still runs the company today. “Westchase and the surrounding areas hit the target demographic we are looking for, we had to make some adjustments to the menu to compete with neighboring restaurants, but it’s a friendly competition.”

The restaurant and brewery opened in mid-August and offers brewery tours by reservation on Saturdays.  

 Fat Beet Farm

The farm-to-table trend has been growing rapidly as more people become conscious of not only what they are putting in their bodies, but where it comes from. But imagine actually seeing the farm from your restaurant table?

That is the innovative concept that co-founder of Bonefish Grill, Tim Curci, is bringing to Westchase. Fat Beet Farm, which has not announced an opening date yet, will be located at the intersection of Tampa and Racetrack Roads. Plans are underway for the property to be a nine-acre working farm that will supply two restaurants.

In addition to the restaurants, Fat Beet Farm will offer a Saturday Farmers Market, a commissary and Florida agriculture student internships with housing.

For more information on Fat Beet Farm, visit their website.

Walmart Neighborhood Market, restaurants open in Oldsmar

Drive along Tampa Road in Oldsmar, the main artery through this suburb of Tampa, and you will see the signs of new construction and renovations happening. From new retail to trendy restaurants, this small but mighty city is attracting businesses of all sizes.

Walmart 

A Walmart Neighborhood Market is scheduled to open this fall at the intersection of East Lake Road and Tampa Road, in the location that the Sweetbay Supermarket used to occupy. The market, a smaller version of Walmart superstores, carries the same goods found in a typical grocery store.

The Walmart Neighborhood Market in Oldsmar is currently hiring in preparation for the upcoming opening. The store plans to hire 95 employees, including both full and part-time associates. Interested applicants can apply online.

Rawk Star Café

With more people ditching burgers and fries for healthier options, the owners of Rawk Star Café saw a need to expand from their 1,600-square-foot location in Palm Harbor to a larger space in Oldsmar. The café, which has been in business for five years, moved to the new digs in Oldsmar in July.

“We love this location because it’s in the middle of everything, so not only do we get to keep our customer base that we developed in Palm Harbor, but we used to live in Westchase and we know a lot of people in East Lake, and we wanted to draw people from Tampa too, so this location is great because we are centrally located for all of our customers,” says Karen DiGloria, co-owner and operator of Rawk Star Café. “Tampa Road is so easy; people come through here a lot on their way to work, so it’s great.”

The café offers organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free dishes and smoothies. Menu items include raw versions of chili, pizza, even a burger. All of the menu items are made with organic ingredients and superfoods.

“We are honestly one of the only places in the area that is 100-percent organic,” DiGloria says.

Rawk Star also features a nutritional store where you can purchase everything from vitamins to shampoo. DiGloria offers nutritional counseling to customers, as she and co-owner Adam Kantrovitz are passionate about healthy eating.

“People want to know how they can live a longer life, and the answer is through eating a plant-based diet,” Kantrovitz says. “We want to help people feel better and live healthy lives, and we do all we can here every day to make that happen.”

Craft Street Kitchen

Seriously fun food, is how operating Partner Danielle Becker of Craft Street Kitchen describes the concept of the new restaurant opening just south of Tampa Road.

“We make everything in-house from scratch using local farms and farmers whenever possible,” she says. “We are serious about our ingredients but serve them in a fun, unpretentious way.“

This will be the second location for the growing restaurant. Their first location in Trinity opened in 2013, serving items like short rib sweet potato tots, French philly and espresso rubbed ribeye, along with 64 taps including those from local breweries.

Becker says the Oldsmar location will open the first week of November, and her team is excited to be in the neighborhood.

“We chose the location because of the small town feel, close-knit community and a city that is really investing and putting great efforts into the future of keeping Oldsmar incredible,” she says. 

Courtney Campbell sports new palm trees as part of beautification project

If you drive, walk or bicycle along the Courtney Campbell Causeway, you will notice the addition of newly planted palm trees lining both sides of the causeway as the Florida Department of Transportation continues its Bold Beautification Program.

The scenic span that connects Tampa and Clearwater has had quite a year, opening a parallel pedestrian and bike path in June. The causeway, also known as State Road 60, is a well-traveled thoroughfare for commuters, visitors and residents of both Hillsborough and Pinellas. In addition to providing spectacular views of the Bay, crossing over the causeway now includes views of a variety of palm trees from bismarck palms, cabbage palms, Chinese fan palms, date palms to Washington palms.

The nearly $856,000 landscaping project will be maintained by contractor SFM Services, Inc.

“The project is complete, however, the establishment period [with SFM] began February 26, 2015 and will be running for two years,” says Kristen Carson, with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

The Bold Beautification Program helps the FDOT meet its goal set by the Florida Legislature wherein just over one-percent of its statewide construction budget is to be spent on the FDOT's contractor SFM Services, Inc.

In addition to the palm trees planted, according to Carson, there are more beautification projects in the works for the causeway.

“There will be more landscaping added to the Pinellas County side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway,” she says. “It is currently in the planning stages, therefore no work has started yet.”

Duckweed welcomes artisan chocolates, plans to open new grocery in Channelside

Downtown Tampa residents accustomed to running into the Duckweed Urban Market to grab a sandwich, salad fixings or a bottle of wine now can also grab gourmet chocolates as they peruse the shelves of the beloved grocery.

When Ashworth Artisan Chocolate closed its doors last month, Duckweed Owners Michelle and Brent Deatherage opened their's to the chocolate company. The owners of the two businesses had met through the Tampa Bay Partnership and bicycle friendly business meetings, as well as being customers at each other’s stores.
 
The idea to move Ashworth’s business into Duckweed is a strategic one designed to benefit both parties.
 
“After having been in business for over eight years, Ashworth Artisan Chocolate has a loyal following of thousands of customers, many of whom may have never been to Duckweed before,” says Jessica Moore, Manager of Duckweed. “Now when Ashworth customers come in for their chocolate fix, they'll be introduced to everything Duckweed has to offer and might leave with a nice bottle of wine or a bouquet of fresh flowers to go with their box of chocolate truffles. By combining our customer bases, we are certain we will increase sales for both businesses.”

Duckweed, which started in 2011, in a 500-square-foot spot on Polk Street, has grown quite a bit to its current location in the Element building. Just as its name signifies, it has small but mighty roots.
 
“Duckweed itself is a teeny-tiny aquatic plant found throughout Florida, and is actually known as the smallest flowering plant, but it provides a large amount of nutrients to the aquatic life that feeds on it,” Moore says. “So we decided to name our tiny little store that brings nourishment to the people of downtown after the tiny plant. Since we have grown, we have thought about changing it, but customers and employees alike are too fond of our quirky name, so it has stuck.”
 
Soon the downtown location will not be the only Duckweed in Tampa. Plans for Duckweed in Channelside are underway, with a scheduled opening at The Place this winter.
 
“The store owners are residents of the Channel District, so they're acutely aware that their neighbors and residents such as themselves are lacking easily accessible groceries,” Moore says. “With Channelside's promising future on the minds of many locals, we felt that would be a great spot for the next installment of Duckweed.”
 
Duckweed at The Place in Channelside will also feature Ashworth Artisan Chocolate. 

Tampa Bay area college campuses create new spaces for start of school

It's that time of year when college students trade in their sunscreen and towels for pens and paper (writing enhances memory!) and hit the books: yep, it’s back to learning, lectures and labs.

In preparation for the fall semester and upcoming school year, local colleges and universities are finishing up construction and campus improvements just in time for students to take their seats.

Hillsborough Community College (HCC) is opening up a new science building on its SouthShore campus. The new $9.8 million building features laboratories, classrooms and faculty offices.

“The new building allows us to give students the classes they need and want,” says Dr. Allen Witt, HCC SouthShore Campus President. “Our campus is disproportionately higher in the sciences, especially in the biological sciences, with students going on to paths in nursing, medical and other health-related sciences, so this building gives us the capability to offer more classes in those disciplines.”

The LEED-certified building is two stories tall and encompasses over 36,000-square-feet. Witt says he is proud to say that the faculty was very involved in the construction process.

“The building process was unusual in that the teachers were involved every step of the way,” he says. “It really is a building built by teachers for teachers. Black boards fill two walls in order to complete mathematical equations, small windows were used so there wouldn’t be too much light for the use of projectors and computers, students enter from the back of the classroom so as not to disrupt the class, they thought of everything.”

Over at the University of Tampa (UT), there is also a new building opening for the fall. The Innovation and Collaboration building is a multipurpose space that includes classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, an entrepreneurship center, a Starbucks coffee shop, meeting and study areas and a headquarters for campus safety.

“As the university’s student population has increased, so have the needs for academic and administrative space, as well as space for students to study and socialize, says Eric Cardenas, director of public information and publications for the University of Tampa. “Also, our entrepreneurship program has grown and become more nationally renowned and multifaceted, so it was determined that it needed a dedicated space, this building addresses those needs.”

UT’s Innovation and Collaboration building is a candidate for LEED Silver certification.

McKay Hall at UT also got a makeover this summer, and renovations will be completed in time for the fall semester. The residence hall, which was built in the late 1950s, received several improvements including new restrooms, an upgraded common room and a second laundry room.

Eckerd College also renovated its residence complexes, and built a new sailing center on Boca Ciega Bay. The $1.6 million Doyle Sailing Center includes floating docks with 26 slips. Eckerd’s sailing team is comprised of 32 members.

T.J.Maxx, new restaurants sprouting up in south Tampa

New restaurants and a popular discount retailer are moving into the South Tampa neighborhoods of Palma Ceia and SOHO/ Courier City.

After months of construction and speculation about what was going into the former Eckerd Drug store space on Henderson Boulevard, T.J. Maxx has announced it will be going into the shopping center between Fresh Market and First Watch. The 26,000-square-feet will be the discount clothing store's 10th location in the Tampa Bay area, but the first in south Tampa.

Its main competition for retail shoppers looking for discounted brand name clothing will likely be the stores already occupying Britton Plaza, about three miles south at Dale Mabry Highway and Euclid Avenue. Stores in Britton Plaza include Marshall's, Bealls Outlet, Burlington Coat Factory and the ever-popular Stein Mart. (Publix is currently rebuilding its space in Britton Plaza.)

Food town opeings

For foodies, the selection of restaurants in South Tampa continues to grow, with new concepts opening in new or renovated spaces nearly every week. Here are just a few of the restaurants that are creating buzz:

Four Rivers Smokehouse

With the successful launch of its location in Carrollwood, Four Rivers Smokehouse, will be coming to south Tampa later this year. Truly a 'home cooked'-inspired restaurant, Four Rivers got its start in the owner's garage after a fundraising cookout to support a family who had lost their young daughter to cancer. The barbecued food the owner made that day was very well received, so he opened up the Carrollwood restaurant and today proceeds still go to the 'Barbecue Ministry.”

Food at Four Rivers includes sandwiches, ribs, smoked chicken and brisket. The new restaurant will be located at the corner of Swann and MacDill Avenues, and is expected to open this fall.

Craft A'Fare Social Kitchen / Cask

Co-owned by Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, Craft A'Fare Social Kitchen, or just Cask as locals call it, is a comfort food haven with cornmeal crusted snapper, cider braised pork with beer battered onions as well as shrimp and grits, this restaurant is southern food meets chic fare.

Cask recently opened and provides lunch and dinner, with brunch on Sundays. You can experience Cask at 208 South Howard Ave.

Acropolis Greek Taverna

If you are looking for something other than American fare, Acropolis Greek Taverna south Tampa will be opening soon. This Greek restaurant with locations in Ybor, New Tampa, St. Petersburg and Riverview, will be opening a south Tampa location this fall. Take your tastebuds on a journey at Acropolis by trying their ouzo mussels, octopus appetizer or Greek lamb chops.

Acropolis Greek Taverna will be located at 3023 West Kennedy Boulevard.

“I believe south Tampa has become a foodie paradise,” says Kelly Flannery, president and CEO of the south Tampa Chamber of Commerce. “There is a great selection to choose from with all these new restaurants, and its a great walkable community right here in the middle of south Tampa.”

SkyHouse Channelside adds to hip, urban scene in downtown Tampa

Breathtaking views of downtown Tampa on one side, a view overlooking Ybor City and Port Tampa Bay on the other. An infinity edge saltwater pool, lounge and clubroom complete with billiards, a catering kitchen, flat screen TVs and a terrace with fireplaces, grills and outdoor seating.

Sound pretty good? Well, that is just the rooftop of the new SkyHouse Channelside, a luxury apartment tower along the eastern waterfront in downtown Tampa.

SkyHouse Channelside, on 12th Street between East Whiting Street and East Washington Street, is the latest tower to open in an ongoing development trend happening downtown.

Earlier this month, New York investor Larry Feldman filed plans with the City of Tampa to build a 52-story mixed-use project on the infamous Trump Tower site at the intersection of Ashley Drive and East Brorein Street, which could feature somewhere between 200 and 300 residential units.

Other properties in the works are The Arts and Entertainment Residences (AER), a 350-unit apartment complex that is planned next to the Straz Center, and The Martin at Meridian in the Channel District, a 24-story tower offering 316 units.

SkyHouse Channelside, which is already at a 40-percent occupancy rate, offers studios up to 3-bedroom units. Its builder says it is that assortment, plus the amenities that will draw people to the tower.

“People are looking for the new feel, and the amenity level of the rooftop terrace. With the rooftop saltwater pool, along with the variety of units really make this a great fit for millennials or those looking to downsize,” says Tom Underwood, project executive with Baston-Cook, which built SkyHouse Channelside.  “The units range anywhere from 900-square-feet to over 1,500.”

Other amenities throughout the luxury tower include 24-hour concierge, controlled access parking garage, and wi-fi accessibility throughout common areas.

In addition to the luxurious amenities, SkyHouse Channelside and other planned downtown Tampa residential towers and complexes offer residents an opportunity to live without a car or at least use their car less often -- another example of the city's growing urban scene.

Monthly rent at SkyHouse Channelside ranges between $1,000 to over $3,000 a month. For more information on the tower, visit the SkyHouse Channelside website.

Unique theater prepares to open in West Tampa

West Tampa is experiencing a great amount of change as development plans by the city are underway, and in response to all the change, a new theater company is moving into the neighborhood to offer a place of peace, thoughtfulness and innovation.

The Space at 2106 Main, an old restaurant, is being revitalized into a theater that will house performances from band and vocal representations to one-person shows to full-blown Broadway acts. The theater company’s goal is to bring a variety of art to the area.

Before becoming executive artistic director for The Space at 2106 Main, Jared O’Roark, was working with youth for over a decade at Ruth Eckerd Hall. He even gained national attention for his work in the documentary Project: Shattered Silence, which won several awards and even a Emmy nomination.

“After working at Ruth Eckerd Hall for 14 years, the owner of The Space at 2106 Main, Robert Morris, came to me and told me about this building, and when we went inside, he asked me if I saw potential for a theater, and I said, 'yes'.”

O’Roark goes on to say that the theater will be immersive, meaning actors and acts will be moving around the whole theater, even in the audience, unlike traditional theater that all takes place on a stage.

“Everything in the room can move, so every time you walk in the room it should look different,” he says. “The chairs can move, tables can move, the booths can move, so immersive also means whatever the director has in mind, he can do without being tied down.”

O’Roark says this project is also important to him due to the fact that he is able to work with a diverse group of people in a diverse community.

“We are really pushing diversity, and we are not just saying it, the three of us at the top are all minorities. Robert, the owner is Lebanese, I myself am gay, and Erica Sutherlan, the managing artistic director is African-American. We want to not only present art for people outside the community, but we want to do stuff that involves the community. We want people in the community to know that we are not keeping them at arm’s length. This is their place too. This is a diverse community, and we welcome that diversity.”

The Space at 2016 Main will open its doors in September, for a list of upcoming shows check out their Facebook page for updates.

Development of Westshore area continues as latest luxury apartment complex rises in Tampa

The Westshore area of Tampa continues its development boom as another luxury apartment complex rises from the ground. Grady Square, a $56-million luxury apartment community, is being built at the site once occupied by the former Without Walls International Church.

The new project joins The Crescent, the new Hampton Inn & Suites at Avion Park, the World of Beer and Laser Spine Institute on the list of latest developments under construction in the Westshore area closest to Tampa International Airport and International Plaza.

The 300-unit community, situated along North Grady Avenue near West Columbus Avenue, will offer studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 574- to over 1,600-square-feet. It will be comprised of four stories surrounding three tropical courtyards, as well as a parking garage and elevator. Innovative amenities include a yoga/spin studio, meditation lounge and tech center. Other offerings include a hotel-inspired two-story clubhouse and fitness center.

The Richman Group of Florida is doing the construction on Grady Square.

“Our site is in the heart of the Westshore business district, which is not only the largest employment center in Tampa Bay, but it is the State of Florida's largest office market,” says Todd Fabbri, Executive VP for the Richman Group of Florida, Inc. “We believe Westshore will continue to see healthy employment growth over the next several years. In addition to employment, our site enjoys close proximity to the best shopping options in the region, [including] International Plaza, just one mile west of the property.”

As construction continues on the project, Fabbri says there will be more job creation in the district.

“We estimate about 316 construction jobs will be created in the construction phase,” he says. “This does not account for any indirect jobs that would be created as well.”

Once the complex opens in summer 2016, Fabbri anticipates approximately seven to eight full-time positions will be created at the complex.

Construction begins on redesign of historic downtown Tampa park

Historical culture meets the future at the new Perry Harvey Park being constructed near ENCORE! Tampa just north of downtown at the intersection of Harrison Street and Central Avenue.

The $6.95 million project is being funded through a federal Choice Neighborhood Grant obtained by the Tampa Housing Authority for redeveloping the neighborhood.

“The $30 million dollar choice neighborhood implementation grant included a $2 million allocation for the renovation of Perry Harvey Park because the neighborhood lacked adequate recreational amenities to support the planned ENCORE! and surrounding community,” says LeRoy Moore, COO for the Tampa Housing Authority. “Parks and recreational amenities are essential to good community planning and promote wellness, cultural awareness and community building.”
 
The park's design celebrates the history of Central Avenue and its culture. The area was settled after the Civil War, when freed slaves were relocated to an area northeast of downtown Tampa. As time went on, the area became a successful African- American residential and business community. Many legendary artists, including Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown, were drawn there to perform to growing audiences.

“After the public participation process of three public meetings, an advisory committee of community leaders was appointed to develop the program for park elements to ensure the park reflected the historical culture,” says Brad Suder, Superintendent in the city of Tampa’s planning design natural resources division. “This included granddaughters of Perry Harvey, Sr. and descendants of business leaders who grew up in the community. The idea was to capture important milestones, events and facts. The city selected four different artists to showcase the cultural history in different parts of the park, including a southern gateway into the park, a leaders row, a history walk and a statue of Perry Harvey, Sr.”

In addition to the artwork, the park will feature an interactive fountain, concert/festival space, improvements to the basketball courts, picnic shelters and a skate park.

Construction on the park is expected to be completed in winter 2016.

NorthStar Bank opens new branches in South Tampa, downtown St. Pete

Technology has changed so much of what we do, and how we do it, including banking. For those, who desire or need to have the face-to-face exchanges with another human being, NorthStar Bank is opening up two additional branches.

The bank has had a presence in Tampa since it opened its main office in the Sykes building in downtown Tampa back in 2007. Today, NorthStar employs approximately 40 people with another office in Belleair Bluffs, and two new spaces: a branch on MacDill Avenue in Tampa and a loan production office in downtown St. Petersburg.

“The south Tampa branch is set to open in August,” says David Stone, President and CEO of NorthStar Bank. “We just opened the St. Petersburg office earlier this month.”

Stone says the St. Petersburg office will be strictly a loan production office, meaning no deposits can be taken; only business involving loan activity will occur. The loans will mostly be commercial loans for business owners, although home and auto loans will be offered.

“We have been debating whether to have a presence in the St. Pete market, and we decided it would make sense to have a loan production office because it’s a smaller investment to begin with,” Stone says. “A full service branch, you are looking at 2- to 3-million dollars.”

While the bank does offer online banking, Stone says it is important that customers get human contact.

“I’m sure you have read a lot of about branches closing with the bigger banks. That doesn’t mean there is not a need for a brick-and-mortar presence. The type of customers that we target want to talk with somebody,'' Stone continues. "We target professionals, doctors, lawyers, accountants, CPAs, those who have established small businesses, so when they have a banking need, it’s a little bit more complex than something you can do over a machine. That is why a face-to-face relationship is so important.”
 
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