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Florida's Largest Ice Hockey Complex Coming To Pasco

Youth ice hockey players will soon be lacing up skates at the largest ice rink facility in Florida.

Ice hockey booster and Z Mitch VP Gordie Zimmerman plans to build the 150,500-square-foot Cypress Creek Ice & Sports Complex in Wesley Chapel at the interchange of Interstate 75 and State Road 56. His partners in Z Mitch are VP Tarra Mitchell and President George Mitchell. As part of the ambitious plan, a 120-room hotel also is proposed just south of the sports complex.

Z Mitch is going through the permitting phase but Zimmerman says site preparation should begin within a month, with a planned opening in fall of 2015. The hotel is in planning stages.

The approximately $20 million complex will have four rinks including one at Olympic-size and two at standard size. A fourth space will be multipurpose to accommodate ice skating as well as other sports such as lacrosse, arena football, volleyball and basketball. Meetings and high school graduations can be held there.

Paralympic sled hockey, speed and figure skating, also are planned uses for the Olympic rink.

There also will be a restaurant, pro-shop and office, Zimmerman says.

Long-term, Zimmerman hopes to establish an ice academy similar to one at Saddlebrook for young tennis players. "He'll actually have students who would want to make it in the big leagues or go on to college and would come down here for training," says Ed Caum, Pasco County tourism director.

Tampa is the site for the 2016 NCAA Men's Frozen Four tourmanent. "This just opens up more opportunities...(Pasco) still has room to grow so we look forward to promoting venues for Tampa being a major sports destination," Caum says.

Forget I-75. Caum says,"We'll become Icer-75 corridor."

While the hotel is in planning stages, Caum says the intent of Z Mitch is to open a full-service, flag hotel. Pasco currently has a hotel deficit, he adds.

Zimmerman anticipates that his facility initially will ease a shortage in Tampa Bay of ice rinks available for practice.   Now he says local high schools, including Wiregrass Ranch where he coaches, and others sometimes travel long distances and compete for time at Brandon Ice Sports Forum. Another facility is in Ellenton."They just cannot get enough practice ice," says Zimmerman who is a former general manager at the Brandon facility. "This will fill a big void."

The Cypress Creek ice complex can be a draw for adult, youth and college-level leagues and teams, and tournaments. Zimmerman also anticipates interest from National Hockey League teams that would want additional practice time before leaving Tampa for their next scheduled games.

Zimmerman says he has been waiting three years to launch his project. A potential deal in South Tampa didn't work out. But based on a research/marketing study, he says," This one was the best site we could come up with as far as demographics and access."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Gordie Zimmerman, Z Mitch
 

Aquatica On Bayshore To Rise In South Tampa

Pre-construction sales for Aquatica on Bayshore are attracting young executives and empty nesters who want a prime spot at the most desirable location in town -- Bayshore Boulevard.

The sleek, all-glass facade of the 15-story residential tower at 3001 Bayshore Boulevard will have spectacular water views from the double terraces off each condominium. Square footage of units range from about 2,300 to more than 4,700. Sales prices are from $838,000 to about $2.1 million.

"Daily, people are signing contracts," says real estate agent Toni Everett of The Toni Everett Company.

New York-based architect Joseph Galea, and his company MLG Architects, designed the building, which is very contemporary. Its glass front is inspired by "capturing 3 perfect waves frozen in time," according to the website.

Amenities include a swimming pool and heated whirlpool on the fourth floor deck, two gated entrances, a fitness center, conference and media rooms, and a party and catering kitchen.

The goal is to sell at least 50 percent of Aquatica prior to a construction start. Everett estimates the half way point has been reached, with a probable construction start next year. 

Construction preparation is under way and the vacant spit of land at Bayshore and Bay-to-Bay boulevards is now fenced off. The city of Tampa leased the lot for more than 15 years. It was a popular parking spot for people headed for a jog or walk on Bayshore's waterfront sidewalk. Also, the Bayshore Patriots met weekly to cheer on MacDill military personnel driving by on Bayshore. 

Bayshore visitors will have to find other parking spots but the Bayshore Patriots sign and flag remain.

It has been  nearly a decade since the project first was proposed by Citivest Construction Corporation which waited through Tampa City Council scrutiny, legal challenges and a failed economy to reach this point.

"There has been a revival generally of the market," says Citivest President Bill Robinson. "It's not great but it's on the mend. Employment figures are better. It's a favorable financial market for mortgages."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Toni Everett, The Toni Everett Company; Bill Robinson, Citivest

Lennar Homes Builds Homes in North Hyde Park And Ruskin

Home building is coming back into fashion as the economy shows signs of improving and people are again thinking about the long-range value of owning a home.

Lennar Homes recently broke ground on 39 for-sale town homes in North Hyde Park in Tampa and held an open house for Cypress Creek, a subdivision of single-family homes in Ruskin off U.S. Hwy. 19 in the South Shore area.

Homes at Cypress Creek will start in the mid-$100,00 and will feature energy efficient appliances, low maintenance flooring and maple wood cabinets. 

Nearby a new hospital is under construction. And, a planned Amazon distribution center is expected to bring about 1,000 jobs to the area, making Ruskin one of the fastest growing communities in Hillsborough County. According to a recent Gallup poll, many residents want to leave the state where they live but in Florida far fewer say they look for greener pastures elsewhere.

"We know that people love Tampa Bay like we do, and we're committed to making this the ideal place to call home," says Francine Miller, Lennar's director of sales operations.

In North Hyde Park, Lennar's town home development, in partnership with SoHo Capital, is the first large project in the neighborhood in recent years to specifically target home buyers. 

Ranging from about 2,000 to 2,400 square feet, the town homes are expected to be particularly attractive to young professionals, starter families and people looking to down-size from surrounding neighborhoods such as Hyde Park.

Starting prices are anticipated to be about $200,000 to $250,000. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

"We're hoping this will spur even more development in West Tampa and beyond," says Mark Metheny, division president of Lennar Homes.

The town homes are located at West Lemon Street and North Oregon Avenue, next to apartment complexes, NoHo Flats and Vintage Lofts.

The North Hyde Park neighborhood is a critical piece of Mayor Bob Buckhorn's vision for re-inventing Tampa's urban core.

"You're going to see a transformative movement in this city but it starts with projects like this," says Buckhorn. 'We're not going to miss this window. This is going to be a great city."

The mayor envisions a "work, live and play environment" that includes Kennedy Boulevard anchored by the University of Tampa and Tampa General Hospital. Both are engaged in major expansion projects including TGH's proposal to build a rehabilitation hospital on the long-vacant Ferman autodealership property fronting Kennedy.

But the city's boundaries also will sweep in the proposed Jewish Community Center that will open in a remodeled Fort Homer Hesterly Armory on Howard Avenue, and nearly 150 acres in West Tampa bordering the Hillsborough River.

The redevelopment of Water Works Park and the opening of the Ulele Restaurant in Tampa Heights also are part of the city's transformative master plan. In the same area SoHo Capital owns about 37 acres that is slated for residential and commercial development.

"All of it will complement each other," says Buckhorn. "This (town homes) is part of the mosaic."

Adam Harden, one of the principals in SoHo Capital, agrees.

"I think it's a harbinger that the sale's component's time has really come," he says.

Projects such as the town homes and the developments in Tampa Heights will bring jobs and services to the area. "It also brings the density needed to cascade into surrounding neighborhoods, re-creating a sense of place," Harden says.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Francine Miller and Mark Metheny, Lennar Homes; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; Adam Harden, SoHo Capital

It Works! Opens New Headquarters In Palmetto

It Works!, a major distributor of health and beauty products including The Ultimate Body Applicator, is expanding and relocating its headquarters to Palmetto, Fl.

With more than $450 million in worldwide sales last year, It Works! has more than 60,000 independent distributors who are paid commissions on direct sales of more than 30 health and beauty products in 18 countries. Inc. Magazine ranks It Works! one of America's 500 fastest growing companies.

Its best known product is the Body Applicator, a contouring body wrap product that company officials say tightens, tones and firms any area of the body in 45 minutes. The company was founded in 2001 in Michigan by former teacher Mark Pentecost. A decade later, he moved company headquarters to Bradenton. The new location, at 908 Riverside Drive in Palmetto, is just north of downtown Bradenton.

"We have loyal customers who keep coming back," says It Works! spokeswoman Kate Martin. 

Company growth in foreign countries also is strong and recently was expanded into Denmark, England, Spain and Germany. Additional countries soon will be added to the list, Martin says.

More than a year ago, the company purchased a 34,000-square-foot building in Palmetto for about $3.1 million, and recently completed an expansion to 50,000 square feet. Lakewood Ranch-based Stellar Development and Palmetto-based Moore2Design collaborated on the project.

Opening day will be in mid-June. Nearly 90 employees work at the new headquarters but by early 2015 company officials anticipate hiring another 50 or so employees.

About 10 positions are open now, says Martin. Most jobs will be with IT, social media, marketing and customer service.

It Works! offers some unique perks for employees including a putting green on the roof, a bumper pool on the top floor and an indoor slide for employees and guests.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Kate Martin, It Works!

CDC Of Tampa Wins Housing Award From Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo awarded nearly $240,000 to the nonprofit Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa for the purchase and rehabilitation of homes in East Tampa.

The grant is part of $11.4 million awarded by the bank to 59 nonprofits in 25 communities nationwide for UrbanLIFT, a housing program to stabilize low-income neighborhoods impacted by the housing crisis. NeighborWorks America administers the program.

The CDC is one of only three agencies in Florida to receive the grants. The others are Habitat for Humanity of Broward, Inc., and Housing Enterprise of Fort Lauderdale.

"UrbanLIFT funds provided by Wells Fargo will afford CDC of Tampa the opportunity to extend our hand to the community," says Ernest Coney Jr., the CDC's CEO.

The funds are a "hand-up'' for families that might not otherwise have the opportunity for homeownership," Coney says.

CDC officials will identify three residences within low-income areas of East Tampa, all clustered within a one-mile radius. Needed repairs will be done and then the homes will be offered for sale. These efforts are part of the agency's on-going Nehemiah Legacy Phase II Community Stabilization program.

 The CDC's program targets first-time home buyers and offers down payment assistance to qualified applicants. Though it is not required for UrbanLIFT, the CDC offers financial counseling for home owners to prepare them for the responsibilities that come with mortgages, home insurance and maintenance issues.

"When you look at economic and community development, one of our main pillars is homeownership where there is buy-in of the neighborhood," says Julie Rocco, the CDC's special projects manager. "There is a feeling that this is my neighborhood, I want to clean it up and make it safer."

For more than 25 years the CDC of Tampa has served the East Tampa community through career counseling, business planning, homeownership workshops, job training, job placement and youth programs. The agency, which is located at 1907 E. Hillsborough Ave., also partners with area contractors to build affordable housing, and commercial projects.

In agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Wells Fargo provides funds for community housing programs including NeighborhoodLIFT and CityLIFT.  Along with UrbanLIFT, grants of more than $180 million have been awarded since 2012. More than 5,000 homeowners have received down payment assistance and homebuyer education. 

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Ernest Coney, Julie Rocco, CDC of Tampa

Construction Progresses On Pinellas Side Of Courtney Campbell Trail

The Courtney Campbell Causeway is known more for the vehicular traffic that zooms overland between Tampa and Clearwater's beaches. But pedestrians and bicylists can expect in the near future to make that entire trek on a parallel Courtney Campbell Trail, and along the way enjoy breathtaking views of Old Tampa Bay.

The trail on the Hillsborough County side of the bay is complete along with Tampa's new Cypress Point Park playground and a 45-foot high bridge at the county line between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The next phase involves the trail's tie-in to Pinellas and Clearwater.

Completion of the project by Pepper Contracting is more than a year away, according to Florida Department of Transportation officials. Trail and road widening are under way. In addition the causeway will be repaved and a small pedestrian bridge built. Test piles for the bridge are installed.

When finished, the trail will allow pedestrian and bicycle access from Veteran's Expressway in Tampa to Bayshore Boulevard on the eastern edge of Clearwater. Bayshore leads to Safety Harbor and more trails. It also will connect with additional recreational trails on both sides of the Bay. 

The approximately 9.5 mile causeway trail is a project championed by the Westshore Alliance, which last year unveiled a Public Realm Master Plan to make the Westshore neighborhoods of Tampa more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Trails, wider sidewalks and narrower traffic lanes are among the recommendations.

"We're excited about the trail. It will be one of the premier trails in the entire United States," says Ron Rotella, executive director of the Westshore Alliance, which represents the interests of the Westshore Business District.

The district is Florida's largest office community with more than 4,000 businesses and 93,000 employees.

The Westshore area is booming with new shops, restaurants and offices. But residents of established neighborhoods, such as Carver City and Lincoln Gardens, soon will have new neighbors moving into more than 1,700 apartments either under construction or ready for leasing. "We're turning into a neighborhood as well," Rotella says.

Many of the new apartments front Boy Scout Boulevard which is slated for resurfacing later this year. Plans also are to widen sidewalks and enhance existing cross walks.

The alliance is contributing about $113,000 to help with pedestrian improvements and make it easier to walk to International Plaza as well as shops and restaurants on Westshore Boulevard. In the 2014-2015 Hillsborough County budget, Rotella anticipates about $1.3 million for a Westshore Boulevard redesign.

And he also is looking ahead to another trail segment from Dale Mabry Highway at Interstate 275 to Hesperides Street with a tie-in to Cypress Point Park and then onto Clearwater via the Courtney Campbell Trail.

 "Being able to access a beautiful waterway, that is a great advantage for the business district," Rotella says.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Ron Rotella, Westshore Alliance

HCC's SouthShore Campus Adds Science And Technology Building

Enrollment at Hillsborough Community College SouthShore Campus has far exceeded expectations since opening day in 2008 in Ruskin.

More than 6,500 students attend classes on a campus built on a 100-year-old tomato field donated by the Dickman family. That is a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

More than a year and a half ago, 15 portable classrooms were set up to handle the overflow. That is about to change. School officials are breaking ground at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on a two-story, 36,424-square-foot Science and Technology Building at 551 24th St. in Ruskin.

"It has been truly amazing," says HCC SouthShore's President Allen Witt. “The new building will allow for the space to move out of portables and continue growth.”

The college is looking to hire for part-time and advisory positions. Interviews are planned to hire four faculty members. "We're in a hiring mode,'' Witt says.

Construction is scheduled for completion in May 2015. The new science and technology center will have nine laboratories, five prep labs, two computer classrooms, six traditional classrooms, four offices and a dean's suite.

Student enrollment, at least for now, is not expected to slow. Currently, SouthShore's enrollment is about 10 percent of approximately 46,000 students who attend HCC's five campuses and three centers throughout the county.

Witt can look out of his office window to understand the reason.

"I can see the top of Amazon.com's (building) just above the trees," he says. Also nearby new houses are under construction.

Amazon is expected to hire about 1,000 people in the next few months. The rising rooftops also will bring more families to the southeastern end of the county. "Things are happening here so very fast," Witt says. "We're all going to be catching up with infrastructure related to the new needs."

SouthShore plans to hold onto to all but about one-third of its portables as back-up plan if they are still needed in future years.

But the opening of the science and technology building means SouthShore is taking the next step in its academic growth plan.

“We pride ourselves as a STEM campus serving our local community with outstanding educational resources," Witt says. "This new science building will help us serve our students well into the future with the best technology and classroom space.”

Existing buildings at SouthShore are LEED-certified as eco-friendly and green. This new building also will meet the national certification standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council. 

Construction on the approximately $9.8 million project includes architects Reynolds Smith and Hills, civil engineer Stantec,  consultants with Volt Air and construction manager Cutler Associates.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Allen Witt, HCC Southshore

Urbanism On Tap 3.2: 'The Social Side of Development' An Open Mic Night About Downtown Tampa

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at the Pour House in the Channel District of Downtown Tampa on May 13, 2014 starting at 5:30 p.m. 

Urbanism on Tap is a recurring open mic event focused on generating constructive conversations within the community about current ideas and trends that are shaping our city.

Every event is open to the public. Moderators and attendees are invited to share their views and stories related to the topic of the day. The intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will enhance the ability to make Tampa a more livable city.

The upcoming event is the second in a three-part series, entitled “Tampa: The New Building Boom.” This second event, “The Social Side of Development,” will focus on the social aspects of development happening around Downtown Tampa. How will this development affect residents? Is there anything missing? What ways can people provide input on these issues? The organizers welcome comments and ideas on how new development may influence the lives of residents and on how residents can work to influence new development. 

The event organizers encourage people to share their opinions on these topics by visiting Urbanism on Tap’s online Facebook page. People can also use the Facebook page and website to continue the conversation online, following the event. 

Venue: Pour House at Grand Central at Kennedy, Channel District, Tampa (1208 E Kennedy Blvd #112, Tampa, FL 33602); 
Date and Time: May 13, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
For any questions, email Ashly Anderson

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry, CNU Tampa Bay; Ashly Anderson, Urban Charrette

NoHo Flats Showcases Apartments At Open House

NoHo Flats is changing the north of Kennedy Boulevard landscape in Tampa, adding upscale apartments to North Hyde Park, a neighborhood nestled between Kennedy and Interstate 275. It is one of the emerging neighborhoods that are expanding the boundaries of Tampa's urban core to include the western side of the Hillsborough River.

On Thursday, May 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. the public is invited to an open house that will showcase the 311-apartment complex at 401 N. Rome Ave. Mayor Bob Buckhorn will kick off the event with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Live music and refreshments also are planned.

"It's exciting to see the area transition," says NoHo Flats Property Manager Laura Delahaye. "We want to showcase it for everyone."

NoHo Flats is about 60 percent leased. The complex offers a range of amenities, including hardwood floors and island kitchens in the apartments, a swimming pool with outdoor grill area, fountain courtyard with fire pits, fitness center, a "linear" park that is open to tenants and the public, sidewalks and benches. Some apartments have garages.

"It's one of the fastest projects that I've ever managed," Delahaye says.

The complex developed by Pollack Shores Real Estate Group is expected to appeal especially to young professionals who want to enjoy Tampa's growing number of restaurants, bars and shops in downtown, along Kennedy, and also on Howard and Armenia avenues..

The boulevard is the sight of major expansion projects by the University of Tampa including a new residence hall and lacrosse field. Tampa General Hospital plans to build a rehabilitation hospital and medical offices on Kennedy on the site of the former Ferman automobile dealership, just south of NoHo Flats.

The Oxford Exchange, Ducky's Sports Lounge and Primrose School of South Tampa are among a growing number of businesses on Kennedy.  

NoHo Flats is pushing back against the perception that "north of Kennedy" isn't the cool place to be. "You can see that is changing," Delahaye says.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Laura Delahaye, NoHo Flats

New Hotels Open In St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach

Two new hotels are planning grand openings -- Staybridge Suites in downtown St. Petersburg and The Hotel Zamora in St. Pete Beach.

Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, The Hotel Zamora  is bringing Spanish-Mediterranean charm to Gulf Boulevard along with a new dining destination -- the Castile Restaurant. Tatro Construction is nearing completion of what is the first hotel built in St. Pete Beach in more than two decades.

A June opening is planned for the hotel and the restaurant which will have a roof top lounge. The hotel is named for one of the oldest regions in Spain; the restaurant for a town in Zamora.

The upscale boutique hotel is the vision of developers and partners Henry Suarez and Kiran Patel. Once mired in bankruptcy, they salvaged what was initially a condominium project and won approval last year for the hotel from St. Pete Beach City Commission.

"It will bring a new vibe. It's very modern in design. It's South Beach trendy but in  St. Pete Beach," says Tom Robertson, general manager for The Hotel Zamora.

Interior design is by Miami-based Cuba-Fernandez Design, Inc.; the hotel's architecture is by Tampa-based Design Styles Architecture.

While the real estate market collapse initially shut down the project, The Hotel Zamora, at 3701 Gulf Blvd., now is a sign that an economic recovery is gaining traction.

"The nice thing about seeing new construction is that developers can feel confident about moving forward with their own projects," says Andy Dohmen, president of Design Styles. "It's when you see nothing going up that you get nervous."

Castile Restaurant  will offer a seafood-based menu from fresh, local sources. There also will be steaks, tapas-style dishes, soups and salads under the direction of Ted Dorsey, former executive chef at Tampa's Boca Kitchen & Food Market.

The hotel sits on more than an acre of beach front property with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other side. There are 72 rooms total but guests can chose to combine adjoining rooms or stay in two-bedroom suites. Some "junior suites" have a separate living room with a sofa sleeper.

Most rooms offer water views with eight having full beach views on the Gulf side. There is a marina with boat slips. A fresh-water pool is half outside, half under the shade of the hotel's flooring. In Florida's hot climate it's  "the best of both worlds", Robertson says.

In downtown St. Petersburg, developer Anthony Menna of Menna Development & Management built Staybridge Suites on what was once an overflow parking lot for Tampa Bay Rays' baseball games.

The extended-stay hotel opened earlier this year but plans to celebrate its grand opening May 1.

Located at 940 Fifth Ave., just off Interstate 175, Staybridge is nestled amid the medical district adjacent to All Children's Hospital and Bayfront Medical Center. But it also is within easy access of  shopping and dining on Beach Drive, baseball at Tropicana Field, the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg (USFSP) campus and art exhibits at the Dali and St. Petersburg Fine Arts museums.

Guests  enjoy suites with large kitchenettes, a heated pool, fitness center and a sun deck with a fire pit and BBQ grill. There is more than 2,000 square feet of meeting space for  conventions, business meetings or special events.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Andy Dohmen, Design Styles; Tom Robertson, The Hotel Zamora

Centra Care Health Clinic To Open On Dale Mabry In Tampa

Florida Hospital, the flagship of the not-for-profit Adventist Health System, will  open its third Centra Care clinic in Tampa Bay in June. 

Hembree Construction is nearing completion of an approximately 5,000-square-foot urgent care center located at 301 N. Dale Mabry, just north of Kennedy Boulevard. The site is a former gas station and convenience store. Urgent Care Developers of Tampa LLC purchased the property in January for about $1.3 million, according to Hillsborough County records.

Other locations for Centra Care are Wesley Chapel and the Brandon/Riverview area. But South Tampa, which has had a burst of new apartments, shops and restaurants, is another expansion area for the Orlando-based hospital chain.

"We're very retail focused. We want our facilities in an area where there is high visibility. The growth in development in South Tampa makes (this location) attractive," says Jake McKelvy, director of regional operations and business development. "We try to put our care centers close enough for follow-up care."

In this case Florida Hospital has a campus about five miles further north on Dale Mabry in the Carrollwood neighborhood. McKelvy says plans are under way to open a fourth Centra Care facility in Carrollwood.

Two more sites also are being considered in the Tampa area.

The Dale Mabry facility will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments also can be made online

There will be a staff of about 12 people including board-certified physicians who can treat common ailments such as colds, allergies, sore throats and influenza. But the clinic also will have an on-site laboratory and X-ray equipment. Physicians will be able to treat sprains, broken bones and other fractures. Physicals, vaccinations, worker's compensation injuries and illnesses, and employer required drug screening also will be available. And the website offers "what's going around" health alerts.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Jake McKelvy, Florida Hospital

University Of Tampa Residence Hall Meets Gold Standard

University of Tampa's newest residence hall is solid gold as an eco-friendly, green building.

The U.S. Green Building Council recently issued a LEED Gold certification for West Kennedy Hall, which opened in August 2013. It is the university's third certification from the council, which is recognized nationally as the standard setter for environmentally sound construction practices.

The university's Science Annex is also a LEED Gold certified building, and the Dickey Health and Wellness Center is LEED Silver.

West Kennedy Hall is an 11-story residence hall on Kennedy Boulevard that houses more than 520 students.

"I believe West Kennedy successfully both reflects the latest in University campus amenities and achieves innovative ways to conserve natural resources and lessen the impact on the environment," says UT President Ronald Vaughn.

The university wants buildings that are comfortable and user-friendly for people, says Taylor Ralph, president of REAL Building Consultants, which works with UT on its LEED certification.  

"But efficiency also is part of it," Ralph says. "That means that by not wasting money on energy costs the university can spend it in other areas. There is no sense in wasting energy. It makes fiscal sense."

The design, construction and operations of West Kennedy Hall includes the following green efficiencies:
  • Solar panels on the roof to heat water used by students
  • Low-flow shower heads and toilets that reduce water use by 38 percent, or more than 2.3 million gallons per year
  • Improved energy efficiency with a chilled water system, low-energy lighting and maximized natural daylight in rooms
  • Improved indoor air quality with environmentally-friendly paints, adhesives, sealants and other construction materials
  • Recycling of more than 78 percent of construction waste 
  • Recycling of rainwater stored in a storm water vault for irrigation of a portion of the campus
  • Landscaping with Florida-native and drought-tolerant plants
  • Green cleaning program to maintain the building with healthy cleaning practices and products
  • Reducing reliance on automobiles because the residence hall is within walking distance of bus stops, parks, the Tampa Riverwalk and restaurants
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Ron Vaughn, University of Tampa

Tampa's East Hillsborough Avenue Attracts Investors, New Shops

East Hillsborough Avenue is attracting new investments -- a women's clothing shop and an as-yet-unannounced regional chain store. 
 
For Ron Harjani, owner of GQ Fashions at 3010 E. Hillsborough, the previous announcement that a Walmart Super Center will open a few blocks away next year is good news. It spurred him to build a 10,000-square-foot building next to GQ to house Fashion Essence, a family-operated women's clothing store. He also will have additional space available for lease.
 
Walmart, however, wasn't a major factor for another development plan.
 
ROI, a commercial property brokerage firm, is working with Florida Design Consultants and JVB Architect on developing a 25,000-square-foot building at the corner of Hillsborough and 32nd Street, next to Harjani's new building.
 
 ROI broker Eric Odum says a regional chain store, in the fashion and beauty market, will be the anchor tenant and occupy about 15,000 square feet.  Another 10,000 square feet is available for leasing.
 
Planning for the project began before Walmart's announced arrival, Odum says. But he says, "The visibility of our location is going to be phenomenal."
 
Design plans are undergoing revisions, Odum says, but construction is expected to begin this summer and take about six months. Funding for the project is from Platinum Bank.
 
Harjani expects to open Fashion Essence within the next month. His contractor is Final Touch Wall Systems with offices in Land O' Lakes and Valrico.
 
The location on Hillsborough is a prime spot, says Harjani. He also is encouraged by the redevelopment he sees in Tampa overall in recent years.
 
Walmart Super Center is scheduled to open, possibly as early as mid-2015, on East Hillsborough on about 12 acres stretching almost from 15th Street, next to VetCare Harris Animal Hospital, to 19th Street, across from McDonald's restaurant. The site was formerly home to Abraham Chevrolet automobile dealership but has been vacant for many years.
 
"Walmart is coming,"  Harjani says. "Hillsborough Avenue is parallel to Interstate 4 and a major thoroughfare going east to west. I personally think it's got a lot of potential."
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Eric Odum, ROI; Ron Harjani, GQ Fashions

Tampa Opens New Fire Station On Waters Avenue

Tampa firefighters had a nickname for the Sulphur Springs fire station #11 - the house of pain.
 
"It's because their (emergency) runs were so many," says Tampa Fire Chief Tom Forward.
 
This one station fielded then and now about 10 percent of all of Tampa's annual fire emergencies, reaching as many as 8,000 a year. It generally serves the neighborhoods of Sulphur Springs, Forest Hills and Lowry Park.
 
Today Fire Station #11 is as busy as ever but firefighters are working and sleeping in a much larger, state-of-the-art building. More than a dozen retired firefighters joined with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Council Chairman Charlie Miranda and City Councilman Harry Cohen to officially welcome residents to an open house of their new fire station.
 
"In no uncertain terms this is the kind of station...the type of place that is worthy of the efforts (firefighters) put forth for us," Buckhorn says. "The house of pain just got a little better."
 
The approximately 8,700 square-foot building, at 1500 Waters Ave., replaces the small, aging station that for decades was tucked away on Fairbanks Street inside the Sulphur Springs neighborhood. Firefighters had to maneuver huge fire trucks down narrow residential streets and around tight corners to reach the intersection of Florida and Waters avenues.
    
The City of Tampa built the station soon after its annexation of Sulphur Springs in 1954. And, it was very much a neighborhood station. Retired firefighter Jim Galbraith, 69, says a close watch was kept of residents especially the elderly. "They'd call us in the morning," he says. "If we didn't get a call, we'd call them."
 
At a cost of $1.6 million, the new station has a modern design with a three-bay garage flanked by work and sleeping quarters and giving quick access to Waters. It was built by Pillar Construction.
 
The new station will allow the city to provide a more aggressive response time for this community, Forward says.
 
Funding is from community investment tax dollars. The station is eco-friendly and has efficiency lighting, solar-powered outside lighting and hot water heating, recycled materials and Florida-friendly landscaping. 
 
The city built Fire Station #22 in New Tampa with a similar design. A third fire station, #19, is expected to open in  August in Port Tampa
 
Source: Tom Forward, Tampa Fire Department
Writer: Kathy Steele
 
 

Eco-friendly Communities Get New Design Guidelines

New urbanism is adding a new tool to its design palette for developing communities that are walkable, sustainable and eco-friendly.
 
For nearly 20 years the U.S. Green Building Council has issued certifications to show that building construction has met independent standards for environmental responsibility. But after testing a pilot program, a new certification is being offered, known as LEED ND, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - Neighborhood Development.
 
This takes a more holistic approach to community development. 
 
On Wednesday, April 9, from noon to 1:30 p.m. the U.S. Green Building Council Florida Gulf Coast Chapter and the Congress for the New Urbanism Tampa Bay will host a luncheon meeting where urban designers Erin Chantry and Vinod Kadu will discuss the new rating system. The event is at The Charter House, 7616 W. Courtney Campbell Causeway.
 
Pasco County developer Frank Starkey also is guest speaker and will talk about his experiences with LEED in developing the new urban community of Longleaf as well as his views on what the new ratings mean for future development. 
 
The cost is $25 for organization members and $35 for non-members.
 
"(The new system) obviously takes into account not just buildings but the streets and overall development," says Taylor Ralph, a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council Florida Gulf Coast Chapter and president of REAL Building Consultants.
 
Storm water, energy efficiencies, sidewalks and recyling efforts are among the factors that will be reviewed in looking at the total project, Ralph says.
 
The Encore development, north of downtown, is expected to be one of the first master-planned communities in Florida to qualify for the new LEED certification.
 
Encore is a $425 million mixed-income housing and retail development being built by the Tampa Housing Authority and Banc of America Community Development Corp. The Ella, a 160-unit senior apartment building, opened in 2012 and is fully occupied. The Trio, a 141-unit multi-family apartment building, is opening in May. The Reed, a 158-unit senior apartment building, is slated to open in 2015 along with The Tempo, a 203-unit multi-family apartment building. Retail, a grocery store and a hotel also are anticipated for Encore.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Taylor Ralph, REAL Building Consultants
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