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Making Tampa Streets More Pedestrian-Friendly

The City of Tampa is looking to give four streets a pedestrian-friendly makeover.

Funded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), plans call for the installation of sidewalks and bike lanes on Palm Avenue, Bougainvillea Avenue, Willow Avenue and Cypress Street in Tampa.

The approximately $400,000 project is currently in the design phase with completion expected by summer 2013.

“This is just the beginning of how we will reshape our center city,” says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Projects like this are part of our strategy to make Tampa more pedestrian and cyclist friendly.”

In addition to this project, bike lanes will also be installed along parts of Doyle Carlton Drive and Laurel Street in Tampa. Additional on-street parking in the downtown Tampa area is also in the works.

“These improvements will make these streets safer for everyone, providing both residents and visitors more options to get around,” Buckhorn says.

The announcement of this project comes as progress continues on the InVision Tampa project, which will create a new master plan for downtown Tampa, the Nebraska Transit Corridor and surrounding neighborhoods.

Making Tampa a more attractive and accessible place for people to live, work, play and visit, a main focus for the project is to provide residents with streets that are connected and calm, encouraging neighborhood gathering spaces and pedestrian activity.

“We know that we need to make our streets more pedestrian friendly,” Buckhorn says.

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

Construction Begins On Marine Exploration Center, Aquarium In Madeira Beach

The 25-year-old St. Petersburg Pier Aquarium is moving, expanding and rebranding, bringing the new Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration Center and Aquarium concept to John's Pass Village in Madeira Beach.

Slated to open by November 2013, Secrets of the Sea will be the anchor attraction at John's Pass Village on Gulf Boulevard and 129th Avenue in Madeira Beach, featuring a broader, more technology-focused marine exploration concept.

Construction on the 13,500-square-foot, approximately $4 million facility began on April 23rd.

“The Pier Aquarium has been bursting at the seams for a long time while the public's interest in the ocean environment, cutting-edge technology and marine science continues to grow,” says Pier Aquarium President and CEO Howard Rutherford of the 2,000-square-foot St. Pete facility. “The unknown future of The Pier created an extraordinary opportunity for a bold, new approach to the Aquarium's mission.”

The Pier Aquarium will close on May 31.

Rutherford plans for Secrets of the Sea to become one of an epicenter for marine research and one of Madeira Beach's premier attractions, bringing the public together with state-of-the-art marine research, innovation and technology interactive experiences.

Various marine-related activities, aquariums, galleries and exhibits developed by the St. Petersburg Ocean Team will focus on research concepts in a fun, explanatory fashion; exhibits include Essential Estuaries, Touch Tampa Bay, Fish at Risk, Corals on Acid, Crustacean Station and Moon Jellyfish.

Local design-build team Biltmore Construction and Harvard Jolly Architects are working on the construction of the two-story structure with Lexington Design and Fabrication designing and building innovative Mystery Stations throughout the center, showcasing how several sea habitats and lifeforms are benefiting from some of the ocean's unsolved mysteries.

“We hope to create a new generation of environmental stewards,” Rutherford says.

A public/private partnership between John's Pass Village owner AEGON USA Realty Advisors, Enterprise Florida's State Small Business Credit Initiative and a local lender, the new aquarium space was recently endorsed by Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno.

Additionally, a collective hotel partnership called the Secrets Premier Hotelier Group has been instrumental in helping Secrets of the Seas achieve its capital campaign target to begin construction, agreeing to provide in excess of $100,000 over the next five years in support of the new marine attraction.

The partnership includes TradeWinds Island Resort and Guy Harvey Outpost, St. Pete Beach Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center, Lowes Don CeSar Hotel, Postcard Inn, Dolphin Beach Resort, Bilmar Beach Resort, Grand Plaza Resort Hotel, Alden Suites, Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites, Beachcomber Beach Resort and Hotel, Plaza Beach Resorts and Barefoot Beach Hotel.

Secrets of the Sea is expected to generate nearly 250,000 visitors annually and pump $8 million into the local economy, reaching more than 40,000 students from six different countries.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Howard Rutherford, Pier Aquarium

Makerspace Project Brings Public Creative Spaces To Tampa Bay

Bringing together residents, organizations, businesses and agencies interested in changing culture through the creation of accessible, sustainable and enduring creative public spaces throughout the Tampa Bay area, non-profit education group Learning is for Everyone (LI4E) is heading the LI4E Makerspace Project, providing places where everyone can learn, innovate, manufacture and create locally.

Promoting personally fulfilling and economically productive ways, the Makerspace Project's first project has been donated by local South Tampa homeowner Terre Tulsiak; Tulsiak says she wants to give people the chance to feel capable and be capable to learn more if they want, giving them a place and chance to do so.

“Because then they'll want to,” Tulsiak says.

It will be more than six months before Tulsiak's donation of her home and property will become operational as LI4E currently gathers information on the cost of finishing the interior of the home, zoning issues and potential collaborative partners.

“I think this location is fabulous because it's urban, residential, accessible and inclusive-- all the things a public creative space should be,” says LI4E Founder and President Terri Willingham. “The size of the home, large yard and community where the home is located all lend itself to our small scale, light-use educational and environmental sustainability focus.”

Tulsiak and Willingham plan to create a space where skills can be learned, honed and advanced; ideas incubated and tested; and an agrarian-self-supporting venture developed, with the home potentially becoming a catalyst for people to refine sustainable businesses.

Specifically, Tulsiak is looking to work with LI4E's Makerspace Project to explore creating “a collaborative, stimulating, encouraging place for people to come to together to learn how to think more clearly, more expansively and more productively,” she says.

Ultimately, both Tulsiak and Willingham see the South Tampa home becoming a “health club for the mind,” featuring a community garden, laboratory for sustainability and entrepreneurial efforts, small-scale workshop for 3D printing and prototyping and classroom space.

“This is a beautiful, useful and collaborative community project. The house is a blank canvas, and the community is the collective artist,” Willingham says. “Makerspaces provide culture-changing opportunity to move from passive consumption to active creation. They're good for individuals and neighborhoods, providing community-enhancing ways to repurpose unused or abandoned spaces, becoming community gathering places by putting capacity building and resource development into the hands of area residents who need it most.”

Willingham hopes this project will kick start a flurry of makerspace projects, empowering local, ordinary people to become extraordinary makers of both their personal futures, as well as the Tampa Bay area's, as a whole.

Apart from the South Tampa project, LI4E has been working with Pasco County libraries to help create makerspaces in their public library system. Keep an eye out for more makerspace projects throughout the Tampa Bay area and get involved by contacting LI4E at info@learningis4everyone.org or (813) 728-2822.

Check out the Tampa Bay Makers Consortium Directory and Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire website to learn more about similar efforts going on in the area.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Terri Willingham, Learning is for Everyone

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay Upgrades Homes

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay (RTTB) is looking to respond to the need for residential housing rehabilitation programs in the Tampa Bay region, improving living conditions for local low-income families.

Receiving a $300,000 grant from Wells Fargo to improve homes in Tampa Heights, the program has been helping 12 homeowners update their homes. Partnering with the United Way Suncoast and City of St. Pete, many more home improvement projects are planned for the Heights area, as well as St. Petersburg's Campbell Park; Campbell Park is part of RTTB's Healthy Homes and Neighborhood program.

“There are many homeowners in need of our services and not enough nonprofits providing help to low-income homeowners to keep their homes safer, healthier and more energy efficient,” says RTTB Executive Director Jose Garcia. “Because of the economic downtown, low-income homeowners can no longer afford expenses to keep their homes maintained. Sometimes, it comes down to choosing between paying for food or medicine instead of replacing a roof or HVAC.”

Spending an average of $15,000 in construction costs, RTTB works to provide new roofing, HVAC, window replacements, bathroom renovations and lead paint repairs, if needed. Volunteerism through the program is encouraged, assisting with exterior painting, landscaping and yard cleanup.

On April 13th, RTTB hosted a Kick-Off to Rebuild Day Event, installing ramps and handrails and updating plumbing and interior and exterior painting for 80-year-old Campbell Park homeowner Elizabeth Chambliss; Chambliss, a veteran's widow, has been living in the area for more than 45 years.

In partnership with RTTB and United Way, volunteers from Honeywell assisted on-site to complete much of the repairs needed in Chambliss' home.

“We look for the most essential home repairs when we help a homeowner -- the needs of every home are not the same,” Garcia says. “We want to provide services that will make the home a safe and healthy place to live.”

April marks National Rebuild Month for Rebuilding Together affiliates nationwide and National Volunteer Month for the United Way with RTTB hosting an official Rebuild Day on April 27th, gathering volunteers from the United Way Suncoast and officials from the City of St. Pete to work on home repairs to four homes in the Campbell Park area of Pinellas County.

Plans to update homes in Hillsborough County are also underway.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Jose Garcia, Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay

Port Of Tampa's Gateway Rail Terminal Wins Prize

The Port of Tampa's Tampa Gateway Rail terminal won the top honor at the 21st Annual Future of the Region Awards which acknowledges the strongest regional projects in the Tampa Bay area.

Officially dedicated in September 2012, the $11 million Tampa Gateway Rail project was made possible through strategic investments by the Tampa Port Authority and partners CSX Rail, Kinder Morgan and Transflo. Since, the project has created intermodal connectivity at the Port of Tampa and is expected to be a major catalyst in promoting trade opportunities for Tampa's port and Central Florida.

Hosted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the 21st Annual Future of the Region Awards luncheon honored local projects demonstrating strong regional qualities in community service, cultural/sports/recreation, environmental, infrastructure, public education and development. Awards were given based on each project's regional quality of life benefit, innovation, cost-effectiveness, benefit to the environment, capacity for continuing impact and regional benefit.

The Tampa Gateway Rail terminal was awarded the Charles McIntosh Jr. Award of Distinction and a first-place award in the Natural Resources and the Environment category.

“We are very excited that our commitment to development the Port of Tampa into a word class intermodal hub and this significant stratgic partnership has been recognized at such a high and prestigious level,” says CEO and Port Director Paul Anderson. “We can't thank our partners enough for their involvement and enthusiasm for the project.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Paul Anderson, Port of Tampa

AECOM Leases Space At MetWest International, Tampa

As MetLife's award winning, 32-acre mixed-use development in Tampa's Westshore Business District continues to see  leasing success, AECOM Technology Corporation will soon move into One MetroCenter at MetWest International.

AECOM will consolidate two existing offices into a new 7,054-square-foot office space in the 11-story MetWest International building. Negotiated by Taylor & Mathis Director of Leasing Angela Odell and co-brokered by Jack Hoskins of CBRE, the lease brings the office building's occupancy to 90 percent.

A global provider of professional technical and management support services, AECOM, a Fortune 500 company, employs approximately 45,000 employees worldwide, delivering "solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments.'' AECOM serves clients in more than 140 countries, bringing in a revenue of $8.2 billion in 2012.

“[MetWest's success] is an indication that companies are looking forward and making decisions based on what they perceive is an improving economy,” says Odell.

One MetroCenter is just one of three buildings making up the MetWest International development, accompanied by the Gold LEED Certified MetWest One and MetWest Two.

A third office building will begin construction upon demand and, when complete, the entire project is expected to become a pedestrian-friendly, urban-oriented development including nearly 1 million square feet of Class A office space, 74,200 square feet of retail space, a 260-room full-service upscale hotel and 254 residential units.

Since developed, Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant, Texas de Brazil and Kona Grill have built their first Tampa locations in the retail portion of the MetWest International project.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Angela Odell, Taylor & Mathis

Post Properties Adds Housing, Retail To South Howard Avenue, Tampa

After being put on hold for several years due to the economic downturn, Post Properties is now proceeding on a new mixed-used residential community on South Howard Avenue in South Tampa.

Located on the corner of South Howard and Swann avenues, the approximately $40 million Post SoHo Square development will be made of up 231 one- and two-bedroom units, 10,000 square feet of retail and a parking garage for residents and customers. Post purchased the land in 2005 for $12 million.

“We love South Tampa: It's a vibrant, active community and we're really excited about that part of town,” says Bart French, Post's VP of investments. “SoHo is a great location for people who want to be able to walk out of their front door and go to shops and restaurants. We're trying to create something that fits into that walkable environment.”

A courtyard featuring a pool, club room overlooking the courtyard and fitness center are among the amenities to be offered at Post SoHo Square. Units will average approximately 880 square feet in size, including high quality finishes such as granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and plank flooring.

“A lot of good things are happening in the area and we'll be offering the community one more option for high-end, upscale living,” French says.

Pre-leasing for the 14-month project will begin out of Post's Hyde Park location around November 2013 with first units slated for completion by January 2014. French expects contractor Clark Florida Builders to complete Post SoHo Square by the second quarter of next year.

Additionally, French says rental rates have not been determined for the development as of yet, but Post has been watching rents in the area and will keep consistent with South Tampa prices. Businesses moving into the retail portion of the development will be announced in the coming months.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Bart French, Post Properties

New Condos, Townhomes On Snell Isle, St. Pete

Palm Beach County development firm Kolter Group recently began work on a new waterfront community on Snell Isle in St. Petersburg -- the first significant condominium development on the island in more than 40 years.

Water Club, at 1325 Snell Isle Blvd. N.E., will feature two 9-story towers including 95 luxury condominiums and 11 two-story townhomes with private two car garages, highlighted by Mediterranean architecture and a waterfront location on the east side of Snell Isle.

“Water Club answers a long-standing need for new, upscale condominium residents on Snell Isle,” says David Traynor, VP of Real Estate and Development Services for Smith & Associates, who will manage sales for the property. “People want all of the benefits of the elegant address and ease of condominium home living.”

Featuring a state-of-art fitness center, resort-style swimming pool, open-air palazzo, terraced garden and fire pit overlooking Tampa Bay, Water Club will also boast an on-site marina beside the St. Petersburg Yacht Club North Annex; slips will be available for purchase at the property's marina.

Four floor plans ranging in size from 1,700 to 1,900 square feet including two bedrooms and a den with two or three bathrooms are among the units to be offered at Water Club. Building features will include private elevator lobbies, as well as secured, covered parking. Chuck Jones of Curts Gaines Hall Jones Architects will be responsible for Water Club's design.

“Snell Isle is one of St. Petersburg's original waterfront developments: It offers a small, waterfront community feel away from the hustle and bustle while still being close enough for a bike ride to downtown St. Pete,” says Kortney Campbell, Smith & Associates social media and enterprise coordinator. "The Water Club residences will be an amazing addition to the area as they are unlike anything Snell Isle currently has."

Completion of the project is slated for June 2014.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: David Traynor & Kortney Campbell, Smith & Associates

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
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