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Restoration To Give New Life To Historic Hacienda Hotel, New Port Richey

Thanks to community input and involvement, New Port Richey's historic Hacidena Hotel may get a new lease on life.

Built in 1927 and originally known as a “Bit of Old Spain Amid the Palms,” the 55-room Hacidena Hotel, at 5621 Main St. in New Port Richey, was used as a hotel visited by silent film stars for years before becoming an assisted living facility.

The old hotel has been vacant since 2006, but recent projects are putting community volunteers and donations to work on restoring the historic New Port Richey structure.

"This property is a key to the revitalization of downtown,'' says City of New Port Richey Interim Manager Susan Dillinger.

More than 400 volunteers recently gathered for two community clean up days at the hotel, where residents, city staff and city council members pitched in to beautify the grounds inside and out by painting, repairing and replacing windows, removing broken glass and installing irrigation lines.

Now, funds must be gathered and more work must be done to assess the structural and environmental issues in need of correction to restore the hotel before renovation work begins. Dillinger says the next step would be to have the interior evaluated -- the plumbing, air conditioning, elevator, electrical system and the structure itself.

"Once we evaluate the interior, we can then begin the rehab so we can lease out space,'' she says.

The project is seeking approximately $37,800 through Citizinvestor, an online crowdfunding service for civic projects, to complete the evaluations and renovation work. Contributions can be made by following this link.

Additionally, the building must undergo a termite inspection and treatment, asbestos survey, air quality test, mold inspection and lead-based paint survey. Special attention will be made during evaluations and repairs to meet requirements of its  National Register of Historic Places designation, which the building received in October 1996.

"This project has great community support as evidenced by the members who came out to clean up days,'' Dillinger says. "But we still need support via funds for planning, evaluation and the actual rehab process itself.''

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Susan Dillinger, City of New Port Richey

New Apartments To Offer Affordable Senior Living, St. Pete

An affordable senior apartment development is making its way to downtown St. Pete.

DDA Development's $18 million, 96-unit Campbell Landings project will offer Tampa Bay area seniors affordable rents in an active, urban location. Located on 6th Street South in St. Pete, qualifying seniors 55 and up will soon be able to take advantage of rents ranging from $280 to $680 monthly, depending on income.

Working with St. Pete architect Tim Clemmons of Mesh Architecture and general contractor Winter Park Construction, Campbell Landings will be developed under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program with additional financing from JP Morgan Chase and a $120,000 deferred payment loan from the City of St. Petersburg.

"St. Pete has always been known as a nice place for seniors and we like what has been done with the downtown area,'' says DDA President Bowen Arnold. "Campbell Landings will help make downtown St. Pete a desirable, urban place to live.''

The apartments will be located in the heart of St. Pete, less than a quarter mile from Bayfront Medical Center and in close proximity to public transportation, attractions such as the Mahaffey Theater, Dali Museum and Jannus Landing; and public parks. Arnold says the development will offer amenities typically found in market rate apartments, but with significantly lower rental rates.

DDA hopes to set a new standard for affordable housing in neighborhoods near downtown St. Pete, offering features such as a lounge, cafe bar, exercise room, library computer lab, tenant storage area, covered parking, elevated outdoor deck, community garden, pass-key protected entry and energy-saving appliances.

Campbell Landings aims to attract seniors whose incomes don't exceed approximately $30,000 per year.

"We genuinely enjoy the opportunity to provide a nice, safe, affordable environment to seniors,'' Arnold says. "We hope to positively impact downtown by providing a high-quality senior development at affordable rents.''

DDA Development has developed more than 2,000 apartment under the tax credit program.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Bowen Arnold, DDA Development

Primrose School Builds Early Childhood Center Near UT

Offering private early childhood education for children ages six weeks to 5 years old, Georgia-based Primrose Schools is expanding to the South Tampa area on Kennedy Boulevard between Packwood and Rome avenues.

The $6.6 million construction project at 1700 W. Kennedy Blvd. near the University of Tampa, held a groundbreaking in December 2012 with plans to welcome the first round of students to the 22,700-square-foot center in August 2013.

Commercial general contractor and developer Phoenix Construction Company of Tampa is overseeing the construction and development of the new early childhood education center made up of 17 classrooms, a conference room and a training center.

This will be the sixth Primrose School location in Hillsborough County and the third in Tampa with two locations currently at Cross Creek Boulevard in North Tampa and Whitmarsh Lane in Westchase.

"There's a high demand for early childhood childcare in South Tampa, especially for children under the age of 4 because not many centers down here take infants,'' says Primrose School of South Tampa co-owner Jana Radtke. "We are thrilled to bring the best possible childcare experience to our South Tampa communities and understand the importance of instilling a love of learning throughout a child's early years -- this is essential to building a new generation of bright students.''

Radtke's work with Primrose began when she opened her first school in Texas in 1995 as a professional working mom struggling to find a quality early childhood education option for her own children.

"After having my children on waiting lists for 18 months, I left the corporate world to build Primrose School of North Lewisville in Dallas, Texas,” she says. “It was the best decision I've ever made!”

Looking to expand Primrose's exclusive Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredited Balanced Learning Curriculum for children under the age of five to the South Tampa area, Radtke has been searching for the perfect location for seven years.

According to Radtke, Primrose School of South Tampa will be the only private school in the area built from the ground up that wasn't converted from a home or previously existing site. The new South Tampa location will be one and a half times the size of a normal Primrose school.

Additionally, Radtke says architects and engineers are working on-site toward U.S. Green Building Council LEED Certification with a goal of LEED Gold.

"The South Tampa location will be the first urban, LEED Certified school to be built in the area,'' she says.

Now enrolling, weekly rates for full-time students will range from $230 to $260, dependent upon age. Primrose School of Tampa will also offer an after-school program for school-age elementary students from public schools (with transportation provided from local elementary schools) for $100 per week. The new school is currently 70 percent pre-enrolled.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Jana Radtke, Primrose Schools

New Tampa Bridge Enhances Safety For Drivers, Walkers

New Tampa motorists and pedestrians will soon have an alternative route over I-75.

Connecting Commerce Park Boulevard in Tampa Palms with New Tampa Boulevard in West Meadows, the New Tampa Boulevard Bridge will provide an easterly and westerly connection between Bearss Avenue and S.R. 56.

The $12.8 million bridge, designed by Kisinger Campo & Associates and constructed by Prince Contracting, will open shortly after a ribbon cutting by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on February 27th.

"The New Tampa Boulevard Bridge has been eagerly anticipated,'' Buckhorn says. "When combined with the widening along Bruce B. Downs, it will give residents of New Tampa the traffic relief they deserve.''

Giving motorists, pedestrians, first responders and New Tampa travelers an option other than traveling through the I-75/Bruce B. Downs interchange, construction began on the bridge in May 2011 and was not expected to see completion until July 2013.

Spanning a little less than one mile, the bridge includes a 5-foot sidewalk on the south side and an 8-foot wide multiuse trail on the north side, allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross the interstate without using the high-traffic and construction-filled Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

Additionally, the bridge will improve emergency access for first responders in the area.

The bridge came in response to the New Tampa Area Traffic Safety Study where existing conditions on roadways in the area were evaluated. New Tampa Boulevard from Meadow Pine Drive to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, Commerce Park Boulevard and Tampa Palms Boulevard West and East were included in the study, honing in on potential improvements to enhance the safety and traffic ease of the New Tampa transportation network.

"Over the long term, the bridge and the convenience it provides to the surrounding neighborhoods will improve the quality of life for area residents,'' Buckhorn says.

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

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport To See New Check-In Area, Terminal

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) is making some much-needed changes to ensure easier travel for Tampa Bay area residents and visitors.

In early February 2013, SRQ unveiled plans for a new check-in area as part of a master plan to renovate many areas of the two-story, 240,000-square-foot airport; SRQ currently houses 14 gates for flight arrival and departures, serving seven major airlines.

“The sleek, contemporary styling is more economical and easy to maintain, and the new lighting systems are environmentally friendly,” says SRQ President and CEO Rick Piccolo. “SRQ takes pride in providing a safe, customer-friendly airport where travelers can enjoy a relaxed and stress-free experience in a modern and easy to navigate terminal.”

During the past two years, under the master plan, SRQ has installed new escalators, renovated restrooms, replaced chillers and HVAC systems, updated information technology infrastructure, updated the baggage screening system, resealed most of the building exterior and replaced the roof and skylights.

Future plans for improvement under the master plan include remaining terminal renovations and third office facilities and baggage claim. Travelers can expect renovations to be complete within the next two years.

“SRQ, like any commercial airport, generates a great deal of tourism and business activity with more than 1.3 million passengers utilizing the airport each year, spending millions in the local community,” Piccolo says. “Having a vibrant and thriving airport is a key economic attraction.”

Currently SRQ is a totally self-sufficient, funding an operating budget of over $16 million in business activities. With no taxing power, the airport -- the primary air carrier and general aviation airport for Sarasota and Manatee Counties -- provides local economic impact and job creation at no cost to Tampa Bay area residents.

Additionally, SRQ is on track to be debt free by August 2014, paying off the remaining $6 million of $150 million in terminal debt.

“This will essentially result in a new terminal with no debt -- that is rare amongst airports anywhere,” Piccolo says.

With nonstop service to major cities including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago and New York and easy connections to other countries, SRQ currently generates more than 11,000 jobs and $962 million of economic impact on the local community.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Rick Piccolo, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

Boutique Hotel To Transform Classic Federal Courthouse, Tampa

The renovation of downtown Tampa's Classic Federal Courthouse is underway with Mayor Bob Buckhorn and representatives of Tampa Hotel Partners breaking ground on the project on February 13th.

Kicking off the $25 million project, the courthouse will transform over the next 14 months into the 130-room Le Meridien Hotel. After considering five proposals for the redevelopment of the more than 100-year-old building, Buckhorn announced in January 2012 that the City of Tampa had made its decision on Tampa Hotel Partners, LLC.

“The federal courthouse is a historical and cultural landmark and it is important to not only preserve it, but to also utilize it in a way that people can enjoy it,” says Buckhorn.

Redevelopment plans for the Beaux-Arts style building call for a complete transformation into a boutique hotel housing a signature restaurant with outdoor dining and 2,400-square-foot ballroom and meeting space.

Featuring stone, marble, three-story columns and oak trim throughout, many of the building's original features will be restored during the project; Development Services Group of Memphis will act as the project's developer while Ferrell Redevelopment of Tampa will be the historical architectural consultant. Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design of Miami will be the project's architect and the Beck Group of Tampa will manage the construction of the project.

“Our urban core is long overdue for activity and this hotel will activate a piece of our downtown that has been vacant for too long,” says Buckhorn. “It represents our history, will anchor downtown's future and adds to the unique flavor of Tampa.”

Prior to being considered for renovation, the building was first used as a post office and customs house, later becoming a federal courthouse. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has a Local National Landmark designation.

The project is expected to create approximately 425 construction jobs with the hotel itself will employing about 100 people upon completion.

“The renovation and reopening of this hotel will benefit practically everyone,” Buckhorn says.

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

Moffitt Grows Outpatient Services, Builds New $74M Clinic

Moffitt Cancer Center officially broke ground on a $74.2 million clinic building at it's McKinley campus in Tampa.

Located less than one mile from Moffitt's main campus, the eight-story, 200,000-square-foot outpatient medical facility, at 10902 N. McKinley Dr., will house clinical space for breast and skin cancer programs; infusion and imaging facilities; research labs; an ambulatory surgery center serving patients with cancers including breast, head and neck, melanoma and sarcoma; and space for blood draws. Administration facilities, offices and dining areas will also be located at the clinic.

Approximately $20 million of the budget will go toward new equipment with the remaining $54.2 million spent on the construction of the building itself and a parking garage.

“This new facility would not have been possible without the foresight and vision of our Florida Legislature, including timeless efforts of Rep. James Grant and Sen. Ronda Storms,” says Moffitt President and CEO Alan List, M.D., of the small increase in Cigarette Tax revenue the center received during the past legislative session.

Additionally, the 30 acres of land being utilized for the first phase of the McKinley expansion was donated by the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

“We are so grateful that the city and county have stood in full support of Moffitt's mission -- to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer -- since we opened,” List says.

With more than 4,200 employees, Moffitt has an economic impact on the state of Florida of nearly $2 billion. This specific project is expected to create more than 600 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs upon opening.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Alan List, M.D., Moffitt Cancer Center

Redesigned Carrollwood Plaza Adds Small Town Boutiques, Tampa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Bank To Become Boutique Hotel, Downtown Tampa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sight Properties Renovates 1920s Apartments, Tampa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

356-Unit Pierhouse Apartments Complex Coming To Channel District

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

InVision Tampa Releases Draft Of City Center Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Net Zero Energy Building Opens In St. Petersburg

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

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

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

In other words: zero energy bill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volunteers Renovate Sulphur Springs Homes, Tampa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saint Leo U Gets New Turf Stadium, Parking Lot, Pasco County

Saint Leo University is celebrating the grand opening and dedication of a new turf stadium and parking garage on its main Pasco County campus.

Ten feet above ground, the new $13 million artificial field sits atop a new 740-space parking garage on the east side of campus near the gym.

One of several improvements Saint Leo has made to its athletic facilities, the surface is able to support 6,000 people and have two fields for intramural sports running perpendicular to the game field for extracurricular activities like football, lacrosse, soccer, ultimate frisbee and kickball.

With Lunz Prebor Fowler of Lakeland as archiect on the project and Clearwater's Creative Contractors, Inc. as contractor, the highly unusual artificial turf structure meets NCAA regulations for men's and women's lacrosse and soccer.

According to Brad Jorgensen, the only men's lacrosse coach in the program's eight-year history, the biggest asset the new field brings is not having to worry about overuse or weather damage.

“We beat up grass. Just the nature of our sport isn't kind to grass. Even the best lacrosse facilities show wear and tear by the end of the season,” Jorgensen says. “I think, long term, not having to deal with resodding and filling in holes is really going to help us out.”

The women's lacrosse team got to experience the new artificial turf game and practice field for the first time during a conditioning session on September 24th; the official grand opening and dedication took place on October 19th.

“[The team] was so excited to get out here. They're really proud of the facility,” says women's lacrosse coach Lesley Graham. “They want to do it justice, play hard, show everybody we're a force to be reckoned with and deserve this first-class facility.”

The Pasco County-based university recently acquired more than 30 acres of land from the Benedictine Sisters of Florida to include in an updated master plan for expansion.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Brad Jorgensen, Saint Leo University
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