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Tradition Meets Technology In New Seminole Heights' Library

Bungalow tradition meets modern technology at the new Seminole Heights Branch Library, which is in the midst of a "soft" opening after a nearly one-year construction schedule.
 
The red brick building evokes the history of a neighborhood rich in Craftsman-style bungalows and street grids canopied with grand oak trees. The technology is state-of-the-art and ready for mobile devices with Wi-Fi and plugs for laptops, tablets, IPads and more installed in the base of lamps and on the frames of chairs and tables and ottomans.
 
There are computer stations in clusters and single computers tucked away in quiet corners.
 
"It's been a big accomplishment that we have so much space, so much technology," says Carrie Hurst, the library's branch supervisor.
 
The library, at 4711 Central Ave., replaces a cramped 8,000-square-foot library that dated to the mid-1960s. Residents formed the Seminole Heights Friends of the Library and lobbied for the new 2-story, approximately 22,000-square-foot building.
 
The "arts and craft" design with tall windows, arches, a veranda and second story balcony is the work of FleischmanGarcia Architects. Stain glass art is designed by WRW Studio of Charlotteville, N.Y. A child's portrait hanging on the second floor is by University of Tampa graduate Princess Smith who was named 2013 Emerging Artist of  the Year at the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.
 
The total cost of the project, including equipment, design and construction, is just under $7 million.
 
On the ground floor the Friends' group has a bookstore. Patrons can get a drink or snack from vending machines in a cafe area. And community meetings can be held in a 100-seat room that can be divided into two rooms, if needed.
 
Hurst says groups already are booking the space.
 
The main library on the second floor has reference and circulation desks; an "innovation studio" with movable furniture on wheels; offices for staffers; small study and meeting rooms; and a room filled with preservation research materials. The latter will be dedicated to the memory of  the late Steve Gluckman, a local historian and library fund-raiser. 
 
The library serves a unique role in the life of a neighborhood, says Pat Benjamin, president of the Friend's group. "There is home where you work and there is the place where you work," she says. "And the library is the third place. It's just a jewel in the neighborhood. It is for everybody."
 
The grand opening of the library will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on March 17.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Carrie Hurst, Seminole Heights Branch Library; Pat Benjamin, Friends of the Library

Encore Tampa Breaks Ground On New Tempo

Tempo is the fourth, but possibly not the last apartment building, to have its groundbreaking at Encore, the $425 million mixed-income housing and retail development being built by the Tampa Housing Authority and Banc of America Community Development Corp.
 
The 7-story, 203-unit multifamily apartment community is expected to open in 2015. It joins the Ella, a 160-unit senior apartment building that opened in late 2012 and is fully occupied. The Trio, a 141-unit multifamily apartment building, should open by April. And the Reed, a 158-unit apartment building for seniors, looks to open late this year or early in 2015.
 
All of the construction activity puts the Housing Authority about one year ahead of a schedule set out nearly three years ago. "We wanted to break ground on one building a year," says Leroy Moore, the housing authority's chief operating officer.
 
A fifth apartment building is possible but Moore says construction likely will be held off a couple of years while retail is added to the project's mix.
 
"Hopefully, we'll see demand for retail speed up greatly by the end of the year," says Moore. "We're being very diligent and selective."
 
By then, the Housing Authority expects to have about 300 leased apartments, nearly double the current number. Once fully completed, more than 2,500 people will live at Encore.
 
Moore anticipates an announcement on a grocery store for Encore within about 60 days. 
 
The approximately $43 million Tempo project is a public/private partnership between the Housing Authority and Banc of America Community Development Corp. The architect is Bessolo Design Group and the general contractor is Siltek Group, Inc.
 
Encore replaces the former Central Park Village public housing complex, which was torn down several years ago as part of the city's revitalization efforts north of downtown. The nearly 40 acres between Cass Street and Nebraska Avenue is in a neighborhood founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. Nearby Central Avenue was a black business and entertainment district that thrived until the 1960s and 70s when highway widening projects and urban renewal wiped out most of the area.
 
The musically themed Encore honors the heritage of the neighborhood, where legendary artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway and Billie Holiday often performed in night clubs in the Central Avenue district known as "Harlem South."
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: LeRoy Moore, Tampa Housing Authority

Sears Home Services To Renovate Tampa Heights Community Center

The wrecking ball nearly took a fatal swing at the historical Faith Temple Missionary Baptist Church. But instead a grass-roots movement that began more than three years ago is salvaging the 90-year-old, Gothic revival style church for a better purpose.
 
By summer 2014 the red-brick building should be transformed into a community center and the new home of the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association, which provides neighborhood children with after-school and mentoring programs and summer activities.
 
"I want this to be a place where teenagers will be standing in line to join because its cool," says architect John Tennison, who is co-owner of Atelier Architecture Engineering Construction. He has guided restoration efforts from the beginning, working with hundreds of volunteers every Saturday who put sweat-equity into this community project.
 
Today those efforts will get a major push toward completion from Sears Home Services and Ty Pennington, a DIY (Do It Yourself) expert and former host of the ABC show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." More than 80 Sears employees, in town for a company convention, will pitch in as Sears and Pennington bring the nationwide "Building Community Together" Initiative to Tampa.
 
Sears also has named February as National Hiring Month and plans to fill 1,000 jobs nationwide.
 
Locally, nonprofit Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay will be a partner with Sears on this day of service, which gets underway at 1 p.m. at the church, located at 602 E. Palm Ave. Rebuilding Together provides repairs, handicapped accessibility and energy efficient upgrades to low-income households free of charge. In addition to work on the community center, three local homes will get needed repairs.
 
"This is a major step," says Lena Young-Green, president of the Junior Civic Association which is an outgrowth of the Tampa Heights Civic Association. She got the church project started in 2010.
 
A completion date is possible by summer, she says. Only four unfunded items remain on the to-do list: a new roof, termite tenting, fencing and some additional electrical work.
 
Sears and Rebuilding Together are the latest in a long list of donors.
 
Among the contributions are a full commercial kitchen from Richard Gonzmart of The Columbia Restaurant Group, door hardware from Assa Abloy, labor from True Blue, computers from MIT Computers and funds from Hillsborough County, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the University of South Florida's Entrepeneurship Alumni Society, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank and its charitable foundation, and national playground builder, KaBoom!
 
The volunteer effort was in full force Saturday as more than 50 employees from CGM Services: Air Conditioning and Heating worked to install the church's first air conditioning system. The in-kind work and equipment is valued at about $100,000. 
 
"Helping the kids has always mattered to me," says CGM owner Mike Charles, who serves on the Junior Civic Association's board. "This is another historical renovation, one of my favorites."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Lena Young-Green, Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association; Mike Charles, CGM Services

Tampa Heights' Home Tour Offers Peek At Ulele Restaurant

Eager for a peek inside the Ulele Restaurant?
 
A ticket to the 13th Annual Tampa Heights Tour of Homes will put you there for a tantalizing behind the curtain view of Tampa's next hot dining spot, opening soon inside the city's historical Water Works building. The approximately $4 million restoration is about two months away from completion.
 
But Richard Gonzmart and The Columbia Restaurant Group are opening Ulele's doors as a special showcase and the final stop on Tampa Heights' home tour. Other stops include nine homes, mostly in the Victorian and Craftsman-bungalow styles; the Tampa Heights Community Garden; and, a historical church being restored as the new home for Tampa Heights Community Center. 
 
The restaurant and Tampa's planned redesign of the adjacent Water Works Park are part of a broader plan to revitalize  the city's first suburb, built in the 1880s on "the heights" above the Hillsborough River. Ulele's menu will feature Native American and multicultural influences.
 
"A few months ago, it was just a shell. Now there is quite a bit there," says Brian Seel, senior project engineer at The Beck Group of Tampa, the project's designer. "It will be really interesting for people to see it close to completion."
 
Seel is the president of the Tampa Heights Civic Association, the tour's sponsor.
 
The tour is from noon to 5 p.m. on Feb. 23. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the event. The starting point is the historical Faith Temple Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of Palm and Lamar avenues. The church, like the Water Works, is undergoing a restoration to convert the 90-year-old structure into a community center and home base for Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association.
 
A portion of the proceeds from this year's tour will benefit restoration efforts, which are headed toward a summer completion. The association provides after-school, mentoring and summer programs for area children.
 
"That and Water Works mean a lot for our neighborhood," Seel says. "We're very excited for them to open."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Brian Seel, Tampa Heights Civic Association

Artist Chosen For Public Art Project At Perry Harvey Sr. Park

Pittsburgh artist James Simon will bring his signature larger-than-life sculptures to a proposed redesign of Perry Harvey Sr. Park, a multiyear project  that will honor Tampa's black community and its musical heritage.
 
His work includes Liberty Avenue Musicians,  three 15-foot musicians installed in historical downtown Pittsburgh. There is also a Chattanooga fiddler in Tennessee, and a 16-foot tall Buckeye Trumpet Man in Cleveland, Ohio, in a former parking lot that is now a plaza and the home of the Buckeye Jazz Festival.
 
Tampa City Council last week approved a $15,000 contract for Simon to design artwork for Perry Harvey Sr. Park's southern gateway. He competed against 160 applicants who submitted proposals to the city's Arts Program Division.
 
In a competitive review where artists' names were kept secret, Simon's art stood out.
 
"He seemed like he got the right feel," says Robin Nigh, the city's arts manager. "We wanted something fun, celebratory, something that driving by had a 'wow' factor and really captured the specialness of the park because it's a landmark opportunity."
 
Simon's submitted design is preliminary. Nigh says the final design likely will be available in March or April.
 
Public art is planned for the park and also for Encore, a $425 million mixed-income housing and retail complex being built by Tampa Housing Authority adjacent to Perry Harvey park.  Encore will replace the former Central Park Village public housing complex which was torn down several years ago.
 
The park and Encore are part of a major effort to revitalize the once-vibrant neighborhood north of downtown once known as the Scrub. The area was founded after the Civil War by freed slaves. It also was the scene of a thriving black business and entertainment district which was decimated in the 1960s and '70s by highway widening projects and urban renewal.
 
Musical legends Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Hank Ballard and James Brown were among those who performed at clubs on Central Avenue.
 
Other artists have been identified for additional public art projects at Perry Harvey. Massachusetts-based artist and filmmaker Rufus Butler Seder submitted a proposal for the park's history walk which will feature notable events and people in the neighborhood's history.  Local muralist Mike Parker is slated for artwork to honor community and national leaders.
 
An artist also is being sought to create a statue of the late Perry Harvey Sr., a civil rights leader and founder of Tampa's first black union, the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1402.

The city currently is seeking photographs or home movies from individuals or institutions regarding Tampa's black neighborhoods including the Central Avenue business district, the Scrub and Dobyville. Images will be used for a public art installation and should be submitted by Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. For information, visit the City of Tampa's website or call 813-274-8531.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Robin Nigh, City of Tampa

SkyHouse Channelside Designed For Young Professionals

Developers believe they have the perfect mix for young renters: an upscale high-rise apartment complex located in the Channel District.
 
Atlanta-based Novare Group and Batson-Cook Development Company are going vertical with SkyHouse Channelside, a 23-story, 320-unit apartment building on 12th Street between East Washington and East Whiting streets.
 
The approximately $55 million project is the second in Florida for the development partners, following the November opening of Skyhouse Orlando.
 
Skyhouse Channelside is expected to provide 500 construction jobs and attract more than 400 residents -- mostly young professionals -- to the new urban district along the Tampa Port's waterfront between downtown and historical Ybor City.
 
Apartments will offer one to three bedrooms with floor-to-ceiling glass opening to grand vistas. The "SkyHouse" is on the top floor with a club room, fitness equipment and outdoor plazas featuring a swimming pool, fireplaces, covered outdoor lounges and 360-degree views of the city skyline.
 
"Our mission with SkyHouse is to find places in dynamic cities where 25- to 34-year old singles can, with our developments, experience a great high-rise living experience that fits within their budget," says Jim Borders, Novare Group's president. "Tampa is the main business center along the west coast of Florida and continues to draw young, educated professionals who will enjoy everything SkyHouse has to offer."
 
Novare is familiar with Tampa's urban infill renaissance. The company co-developed the Element on Franklin Street and SkyPoint on Ashley Drive.
 
Downtown and the Channel District are destinations for people seeking an energized, urban living experience with museums, night life, jobs and public transportation. Other high-rise apartments and condominiums, built as the real estate market collapsed several years ago, now are nearly fully occupied.
 
Young people and empty-nesters especially are looking for the "lock-and-leave" life-style of walkable restaurants and entertainment, says Byron Moger, executive director of commerical real estate firm, Cushman & Wakefield.
 
"I think it's very appealing to people who want to live downtown," Moger says. "I think its a genuine lifestyle that has reached critical mass."
 
Harbour Island and Downtown Tampa have potential for more multifamily residential, he says.
 
Another project slated for the Channel District is The Martin at Meridian, a  high-rise, south of Twiggs Street. And downtown may get a residential tower next to the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
 
SkyHouse residential towers can be found in cities in four states: Florida, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. In addition to Batson-Cook, Novare is partnering with architectural firm Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart.
 
Wells Fargo is providing construction financing for the project. Steve Gardner and Truett Gardner of Gardner Brewer Martinez-Monfort are local attorneys with the project.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Jim Borders, Novare Group; Byron Moger, Cushman & Wakefield

Major Donations Fund Arts And Sciences At Berkeley Prep

Berkeley Preparatory School is the benefactor of major donations that will fund the construction of a 75,000-square-foot arts and science building on its Town 'N Country campus.
 
More than $4 million of the total undisclosed amount is a gift from Bob Gries Jr., president of Gries Investment Funds and the former owner of the Tampa Bay Storm arena football team. Other significant donations are from Dan Doyle, Jr, president of  DEX Imaging, and members of Doyle's family.
 
"It's about our children. Our children are our future," says Gries, whose daughter is a student at Berkeley Prep. "I believe this is a very strong statement that Berkeley is a wonderful and outstanding institution. This is an opportunity to take an exceptional school to the next level to become one of the finest educational institutions in the country."
 
School officials say they hope to open the Gries Center for the Arts and Sciences by the start of the 2015-16 school year.  Berkeley Prep is a private school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and is located at 4811 Kelly Road.
 
Funding for the center is nearly 75 percent complete, says school spokesman Jeremy Canody. The recent donations will provide the center with an endowment fund as well as help with construction, he says.
 
The center will offer state-of-the-art technology and opportunities for students to work independently and in groups. There will be college-level laboratory space, performance studios, an art gallery, recital hall, study areas and meeting areas.
 
"This building will have math, science and arts under the same roof," says Nicole Ackerson, chairwoman of the science department. "I can interact with those departments in a way that I haven't been able to before, and find out where we can collaborate to teach children in new, interdisciplinary ways."
 
The arts and science center is part of a master plan to address future needs of faculty and its 1,300 students. The plan is supported with a $50 million capital campaign, which already has funded the Straz Family Field House and the Berkeley Cafe, a state-of-the-art dining facility. In addition, the funds have paid for campus infrastructure improvements to the Touchton Family Clock Tower and the surrounding Quad.
 
Above and Beyond: The Campaign for Berkeley Preparatory School is the largest fund raising effort in the school's history.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Jeremy Canody, Berkeley Prep; Bob Gries, Jr., Gries Investment Funds

City Of Tampa To Build New Homes In Sulphur Springs

After months of tearing down abandoned and derelict homes in Sulphur Springs, a building spree is about to get under way.
 
The construction activity is the next step in the city's Nehemiah Project to revitalize one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. Work began almost one year ago when Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn hopped onto a bulldozer to begin knocking down the first of dozens of houses slated for demolition. Most are in Sulphur Springs; some are in the North Tampa area.
 
About $1.4 million in federal housing dollars will fund construction of 12 single-family residences close to Sulphur Springs Elementary School and the Springhill Community Center. The first contract for four houses has been awarded to general contractor, Alexander Inc. of Tampa Bay. The city owns a total of 25 lots.
 
"We are going to rebuild this neighborhood, and we are going to do it right," Buckhorn says. "We are going to make this a place where people are proud to live."
 
Reeshemah Green hopes she and her 4-year-old daughter, Legacy Green, will benefit from the new homes. Green bought her brand-new Sulphur Springs home in 2005 at the height of the real estate boom believing that it was a long-term investment. Her house is across the street from where the first house was torn down.
 
"They are building up around my home," she says. "I believe I can look forward to (property) values going up again."
 
Work will be parceled out in blocks of four houses at a time to bid-winning contractors who will complete construction in about 120 days.
 
Nine companies are qualified for the project: All State Homes, Framework Construction, Michael Angelo Construction, Nelson Priede Construction, Manuel Lanz Construction, Florida Home Partnership, Richard Stenholm Construction, Mourer & Mourer, and Alexander Inc. 
 
Estimated cost of construction is about $100,000 per house. Within the next weeks the city will hire a real estate brokerage firm to handle the sales transactions and aid city officials in staging open houses.
 
Sales prices for the homes will be market rate and set through appraisals, says Thom Snelling, the city's director of planning and development. The city might lose money initially but Snelling says, "The hope is as we get four new houses in here, we'll have new comparables." And that may bolster future values as more homes are sold, he says.
 
Any profit made on sales will be re-invested in building more houses.
 
Some down payment assistance through city programs is possible for home buyers, Snelling says
 
Workshops and counseling also will be provided to prospective buyers, says Sylvia Alvarez, executive director of Housing & Education Alliance. "It's needed," she says.  "It has to happen. If not, we'll end up in the same shape as before the housing crisis."
 
The Nehemiah Project is named for the biblical figure responsible for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem within two months. 
 
This latest effort to revitalize Sulphur Springs is being embraced by long time activists who have struggled for years to overcome the drugs, crime and prostitution that dragged the neighborhood down. In its heydays in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, Sulphur Springs was a tourist mecca where people came to enjoy its healthy sulphur waters, spring-fed swimming pool and lively commercial district anchored by an arcade of shops.
 
There are signs Sulphur Springs is making a comeback. Tampa police report crime is down 20 percent. Over the last year, 150 tons of debris has been removed. Tampa Electric Company has installed more than 400 new street lights. Other bright spots have been the opening of Springhill Community Center and Layla's House, which offers childhood and parenting programs to Sulphur Springs' families.
 
Layla's House is one of several projects supported by the Neighborhood of Promise Initiative founded more than six years ago by the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA. Among its partners are the United Way Suncoast and the Children's Board of Hillsborough County.
 
"It's a good feeling. It's like 100 percent of 100," says Joseph Robinson, president of the Sulphur Springs Action League. "It's going to allow people to say, 'If they can do this, I can do this,' even if it's just flowers or mulch added to the yard. It's like a domino effect spreading to the next block."
 
The more home owners in the neighborhood, the stronger the neighborhood will be, Robinson says. "We have the beginnings of stabilization. We're looking forward to all the new homes."
 
Lifting a shovel and holding on to Legacy Green, Buckhorn tossed dirt for the symbolic groundbreaking. "It's ironic," he says of Legacy's name. "That is exactly what we are leaving to her, a legacy." 

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Bob Buckhorn and Thom Snellling, City of Tampa; Joseph Robinson, Sulphur Springs Action League; Syliva Alvarez, Housing & Education Alliance; Reeshemah Green, Sulphur Spring

Walmart Plans Super Center On East Hillsborough In Tampa

A long vacated auto dealership on Hillsborough Avenue in East Tampa is about to get a new tenant -- a brand new Walmart Super Center.
 
The store will be under construction at 1720 E. Hillsborough Ave. by spring, according to Walmart representatives. Based on an estimated construction schedule of 10 to 12 months, the Super Center is expected to open by the middle of 2015.
 
The approximately 120,000-square-foot discount store will be built on the site of the former Abraham Chevrolet auto dealership, which closed several years ago. What would be next for the approximately 12-acre parcel has been the subject of much speculation among neighborhood residents in East Tampa and Seminole Heights.
 
Residents initially learned of Walmart's plans last year when the company sent letters to the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association.
 
In December Walmart representatives met with residents at the monthly meeting of the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership. The volunteer group works with city planners to craft strategies to end blight within the East Tampa redevelopment area that is bordered by Hillsborough, Interstates 4 and 275 and the city limits.
 
The store falls within an overlay district that has design guidelines, unique to Seminole Heights, to govern new construction. As a result the store's traditional look will be tweaked.
 
Instead of a sea of pavement for parking in the front, the new building will be situated closer to the street. Customers will park along the side and rear of the Super Center. Other features will include a  "living wall" of trees and other landscaping along Hillsborough. Residents also were told the store's facade will have double-paned windows with opportunities for showcased merchandise similar to traditional window displays at department stores.
 
Prior to construction, the old auto showroom and dealership service bays will be torn down. 
 
The new store will be smaller than most Super Centers, which generally are about 180,000 square feet, according to Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz. Customers will be able to shop for groceries, including fresh produce, meats, deli items and bakery goods, plus merchandise typically sold at the discount chain store. There also will be a pharmacy with a drive-up window.

There will be no garden center and no tire and lube express.
 
Wertz anticipates the store will provide employment for about 200 people.
 
The store's property stretches from 15th Street next to Harris Veterinary Hospital to 19th Street across from McDonald's restaurant. Walmart plans to install a traffic signal at Hillsborough and 19th. The Florida Department of Transportation, which oversees the state road, recently gave its approval for the traffic light.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Bill Wertz, Walmart

The Bourgeois Pig Brings Bohemian Chic To Seminole Heights In Tampa

A 1920s bungalow will soon add to the growing collection of trendy Seminole Heights restaurants.

Owners Lysa and Michael Bozel are remodeling what was the former home of a long-ago mayor of Tampa into The Bourgeois Pig. An opening date for the restaurant is slated for April at 7701 N. Nebraska Ave., at the corner of Patterson Street, just south of the Hillsborough River.
 
"It will have a decadence but also a roughness around the edges," says Lysa Bozel, a Tampa newcomer who is co-owner of Le Petite Retreat Day Spa in Los Angeles.
 
She and her husband live in Seminole Heights and also own Mockingbird Vacation Rentals which has several rental properties in neighborhoods such as Carrollwood, Rocky Point and Seminole Heights.They plan to offer rental packages that also market the restaurant. Recent guests flew in from Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Korea.
 
The Bozels first met more than 30 years ago in California when Lysa Bozel was a 14-year-old high school student.  Michael Bozel moved to Tampa in the mid-1970s and owned a glass company for many years. Lysa Bozel stayed in California where she opened the day spa.
 
After all those years a second meeting led to marriage in 2012, and a business partnership.
 
Lysa Bozel thought first of opening a Tampa day spa but at her husband's suggestion, they took a second look at the Nebraska Avenue bungalow for a restaurant.
 
"There is a need for it," she says. "There is nothing like it where we live."
 
The boom in Seminole Heights restaurants is well established mostly south of Hillsborough Avenue with eateries such as Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe, The Independent, Cappy's Pizza, Reservations Gourmet to Go and The Refinery. More recently there have been new restaurants and bars to the north, including Domani Bistro Lounge, Mermaid Tavern and Rooster and The Till. A micro-brewery, Angry Chair, and the restaurant, Fodder and Shine, also are slated soon for openings.
 
The Bozels are decorating their restaurant with original art nouveau furniture to accent a decor of "Bohemian chic." 
Seating for about 100 people will be split between indoor and outdoor areas. The restaurant also will be "doggie friendly," including a few menu items expressly for the pooches.
 
Initially beer and wine will be served to patrons though Lysa Bozel says they plan to apply later for a full liquor license.
The restaurant will be open seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner and offering a coffee bar in the morning.  The menu will be electic American with items such as fish tacos, steak, wraps, salads and sandwiches.
 
Servers will be given customer service training a month prior to opening date. "We really know how important that is," says Lysa Bozel. 

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Lysa Bozel, The Bourgeois Pig

Holy Hog Brings Southern-Style Barbecue To Downtown Tampa

Holy Hog Barbecue is dishing up a piece of prime real estate in downtown Tampa. In this case the plate is filled with Southern-style barbecue and comfort foods, with a glass of sweet tea to wash it down.
 
Or if the taste is more toward beers or a glass of wine with your barbecue, owner Danny Hernandez hopes to pour that as well. He is awaiting approval on an alcohol beverage license but the lease agreement on the city-owned site for $3,000 a month has been approved by Tampa City Council.
 
The five-year-lease has options to extend Holy Hog's stay an additional five years. Hernandez is planning an outdoor patio and wants to include craft beers in the restaurant's drink selections.
 
Holy Hog is scheduled to open in the spring at 302 E. Kennedy Blvd., in the former site of Quizno's Subs next to the Tampa Police Headquarters.
 
"It's a logical place for us to be," Hernandez says of his fourth Holy Hog location. "The fact that you've got a captive audience downtown and on top of that residential in downtown is growing exponentially. Downtown is having a renaissance."
 
Hernandez and family go way back in restaurant memory. His father, Ramon Hernandez, Sr., opened Pipo's, "the Original Cuban Cafe," in the late 1970s.
 
The menu at the new Holy Hog will be identical to the brand established at other locations. That means its signature barbecue, shrimp and grits, beef brisket, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and waffles and Cowboy baked beans will be served.
 
Holy Hog opened at 3501 N. Armenia Avenue nearly eight years ago. Since then it has expanded to 4004 Henderson Boulevard and The Tampa Bay Times Forum at 401 Channelside Dr. And, Hernandez says there could be more Holy Hog openings in future.
 
"We're really excited about being (downtown)," Hernandez says. "It's something the city really doesn't have."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Danny Hernandez, Holy Hog

Lowry Park Zoo To Build New Veterinary Hospital

Construction on a new veterinary hospital and animal commissary at Lowry Park Zoo will begin soon following approval of a $6.5 million "pass-through" loan by Tampa City Council.
 
The 12,000-square-foot hospital is designed by Elements Architects for both aesthetics and functionality. An additional 2,000-square-foot animal commissary for food preparation for some 1,000 animals also is planned for the initial construction phase. When complete, there will be four buildings: the hospital, commissary, a quarantine and animal holding center and a 4,000-square-foot conservation center for research and study.
 
The hospital and commissary will be the first to open later this year.
 
"It really is meeting a very specific need that the Zoo has with its expanding collection (of animals)," says Bret Azzarelli, VP of Elements Architects. "The aesthetics need to fit into the surroundings. Some aspects are seen from the zoo. These were made to match the Florida boardwalk area. The remainder of the building is very utilitarian and functional."
 
A fund-raising campaign called "New Horizons" was launched in 2010. Approximately $7 million is already pledged; another $3 million is needed to fully fund the hospital.
 
The city, which owns the Zoo, is using its bonding authority to secure the tax-free loan, which is backed by the pledges from donors. The Zoo is operated as a nonprofit by the Lowry Park Zoological Society.
 
“Over the last 26 years, the Zoo has more than doubled in size, but our animal care facilities have not,” says Dick Stohler, co-chair of the New Horizons Campaign and a director of the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation. “The new animal care complex will provide the medical facilities necessary to meet our expanding needs and support future growth.”
 
The loan from SunTrust Bank will provide interim financing while Zoo officials continue to raise funds.
 
The hospital will be built just off the boardwalk by the Mason M. and Charles P. Lykes Florida Wildlife Center, and next to the existing animal clinic, which is about 27 years old. The new facility will have state-of-the-art medical equipment with areas for surgery, pharmacy, radiology and veterinarian offices.
 
In addition, zoo officials say they plan to use about $2 million for upgrades to the Manatee and Aquatic Center which houses the only nonprofit manatee hospital in the world. Since 1991 the center has treated about 330 wild manatees, or about 6 percent of the state's wildlife count of manatees.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Bret Azzarelli, Elements Architects; Dick Stohler, Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation

Next Urbanism On Tap: 'Where Do You Come From?'

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at New World Brewery in Ybor City on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, starting at 5:30 p.m. This open mic format event is designed to generate constructive conversations about current ideas and trends that are shaping Tampa.

The event entitled "Where Do You Come From?'' is the third in a three-part series that started last fall. It will focus on understanding some critical questions such as: Why does one choose to live in a particular neighborhood? How do you know you are in your neighborhood? How should the neighborhood change and what should stay the same? Seeking answers to some of these key questions will help us understand the issues and challenges in our neighborhoods and the role these building blocks play in our City.

In the event, the organizers intend to engage attendees with innovative tools like preparing ''mind maps.'' Mind Maps are people's perception about their neighborhoods and the places they visit on a regular basis. It may be a rough hand drawn map or an image, or text, which conveys how one associates and perceives his or her neighborhood.

The organizers encourage people to share their photos and things they like about their neighborhood by visiting Urbanism on Tap's online Facebook page. People can also use apps available on smart phones to make mind maps and post it online.

Overall, 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.

Urbanism on Tap is an event focused on generating a dialogue within the community led by the Urban Charette and CNU Tampa Bay. Moderators and attendees can share their stories related to the topic of the day. Every event is open to the public, and all are invited to attend and share their views.

Following the event, everyone is encouraged to continue the conversation online through the Urbanism on Tap's Facebook page or website.

Venue: New World Brewery, Ybor City (1313 8th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605)
Date and Time: Tuesday, January 14, from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
For more information, email Ashly Anderson

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry and Ashly Anderson, CNU Tampa Bay

City Of Tarpon Springs Seeks Bids To Improve Sponge Docks

The City of Tarpon Springs is moving ahead with plans to seek bids to refurbish the historical sponge docks in this Greek-style seaside village along the Anclote River.
 
Bids are expected to be reviewed before the end of March. If the city's Board of Commissioners agree on the scope and cost of the project, construction likely will begin by summer. About $1.3 million is projected for  a budget that will pay for a small oval-shaped amphitheater, a floating dock for visitors including kayakers, an 8-foot wide wooden riverwalk, benches along the seawall, Florida native landscaping, wooden directional and historical markers and brick elements along Dodocanese Boulevard and around the docks.
 
Wood and brick are historically accurate features for the sponge docks, according to Ed Hoffman, Jr., president of Tarpon Springs-based Hoffman Architects. "We're putting the docks back in the sponge docks," Hoffman says. "Right now, it's just a concrete wharf, a concrete platform."
 
The goal is to make the sponge docks more pedestrian-friendly and create a shaded, landscaped area where people want to gather for Greek dances, special events or just sit and enjoy the docks, Hoffman says.
 
Hoffman gave commissioners and the public an update on the project at a December city commission meeting. The project has been under design for about two years with public input gathered during several workshops.
 
Funds for the project are from the Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenues. Changes are slated for publicly owned land; no private property is involved. Construction bids will be a guide on how much of the project is affordable.
 
"What we want to do is try to enhance what we have there," says Tarpon Springs Mayor David Archie.
 
Still, some residents and business owners are skeptical and worry that the authenticity and quaintness of the docks will be lost. "It's too modern for what we have down there," says former Tarpon Springs Mayor Anita Protos.
 
The project is unanimously supported by city commissioners.
 
"I can't wait to see the finished product," says Tarpon Springs Vice-Mayor Susan Slattery. She anticipates the amphitheater, in particular,  as a field trip destination for young children who will learn about the city's history and the legacy of the Greek sponge divers who came to Tarpon Springs in the 1890s. "I think that's a great opportunity for children," Slattery says.
 
Commissioner Townsend Tarapani says the project "looks toward the future. Without a doubt, at the end of the day, this is something everyone is going to be proud of."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Susan Slattery, Anita Protos, David Archie, City of Tarpon Springs
 

Alternative Art Gallery Moves Into New Space In Seminole Heights

Tempus Projects art gallery didn't move very far from where it started more than three years ago, but the new address is opening up a world of artistic opportunities.
 
At 7 p.m. on Dec. 21 Tempus Projects will host an open house at its new digs at 4636 N. Florida Ave. That's only a few blocks from its former address, also on Florida.
 
"The old space was just about 800 square feet. It was a converted garage behind a commercial building. We didn't have air conditioning or a bathroom," says Founder and Creative Director Tracy Midulla Reller. "As far as alternative space goes, it was very alternative."
 
Now Tempus Projects has it all: a visible storefront, more space with high ceilings, air conditioning and bathrooms that meet federal handicap accessibility standards. And, there is more wall space and room space for exhibits as well as musical and performance art shows. 
 
For now though Reller says, "The space will be very raw. (The open house) is just a sneak preview to see the bare bones of the space layout, and to have a holiday party."
 
Reller is an art professor at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa's historic Ybor City. Tempus Projects is part of a burgeoning artists' colony in Seminole Heights. Artists Taylor Pilote, Theo Wujcik and Roger Chamieh are among those who show their works at Tempus Projects.
 
Tempus' board of directors began looking for a new location to rent in June when it was clear a larger venue was needed.
"It's because we needed to be able to house large projects," Reller says. 
 
Reller started Tempus Projects in 2009 with a handful of artists. It was a collaborative endeavor to foster artistic works from all mediums including painting, sculpture, multi-media and performance art. For the second year Tempus Projects will work with the Gasparilla Arts Festival in presenting a multi-media exhibit.
 
The nonprofit is supported by community grants, donations and fund-raising events.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Tracy Midulla Reller, Tempus Projects
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