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Sustainability : Development News

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MOSI working on move to Channelside District

MOSI could be moving to downtown Tampa.

Tampa's Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) is in the process of developing a task force to plan, design and raise funds for a new science center in downtown. The task force will be comprised of community partners, land use experts, philanthropists, museum master planners, scientists and educators. This news follows a vote at the museum's board of directors meeting earlier this month, which looked at a feasibility study to rebuild a new science center around Amalie Arena.

The move to downtown is part of Jeff Vinik's redevelopment plan for the Channelside District.

“One year ago, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik invited MOSI to consider becoming a centerpiece cultural institution in the new $2 billion development his company is creating in the Channelside District,” says Grayson Kamm of the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

Vinik has pledged financial support through his company Strategic Property Partners.

While it is still early in the planning stages, the downtown museum is described by Kamm as a “new, world-class, future-focused science center.” He goes on to say that the new site will also be environmentally friendly.

“The feasibility study called our current 300,000-square-foot campus on Fowler Avenue overbuilt, with countless inefficiencies,” he says. “Our new facility will be appropriately sized for our market and built with environmental sustainability in mind.”
 
If everything goes as planned and a new museum is built in downtown, the MOSI site at Fowler Ave would be closed and re-purposed by the county.

“Our current 74-acre site along Fowler Avenue is in the heart of Hillsborough County’s Innovation District, and there is potential to redevelop the land into something that could contribute greatly to the economic prosperity of the county and the entire region,” Kamm says. “Hillsborough County has not laid out any specific plans for the land.”

Local restaurants, shops emerge in Tampa airport's redevelopment

The next time you fly out of Tampa International Airport you may notice some new shops to peruse and restaurants to grab a bite or have a drink. As part of the airport’s $953-million master plan, there will be 65 new shops and restaurants opening at the airport.
 
The first two establishments are already open in Airside A: Bay Coffee & Tea and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.
 
Bay Coffee & Tea is a locally-based organic coffee shop. This innovative company uses solar energy to dry their coffee beans. More local shops and restaurants will be represented in the airport as construction continues.
 
“Roughly 40-percent of the food and beverage options are local, featuring such staples as Columbia, Cigar City, RumFish Grill, Buddy Brew and the Café by Mise en Place,” says Danny Valentine with Tampa International Airport.
 
The 65 new shops and restaurants will be spread throughout the airport including the main terminal. Thirty of the storefronts and restaurants are set to open this year.
 
Other local brands to look for include:
  • Shop HSN where live remote shows will be broadcast from the store, and Tampa Life featuring gifts from the Dali Museum can be found in the Main Terminal.
  • Ducky’s, partially owned by Tampa Bay Rays player Evan Longoria, will be modeled after the South Tampa Sports Bar in Airside A. Like the South Tampa location known for its duck pin bowling, the airport restaurant will offer a table top version of the bowling game.
  • Fitlife Foods known for its convenient but healthy meals and Goody Goody burgers are being brought back to life after a 10-year-plus hiatus in Airside C.
  • Tampa Bay Times storefront with grab-and-go food by Alessi Bakery, Four Green Fields, which will be a replica of the Tampa bar and restaurant complete with a similar thatched roof and Air Essentials, a news and convenience store featuring food from La Segunda Bakery, CaterMeFit and Amici’s Catered Cuisine  in Airside E.
  • For those in need of some liquid courage before their flight, there is The Gasparilla Bar, a Captain Morgan bar in the shape of a pirate ship, and Bay to Bay News, a news and convenience store featuring food from La Segunda Bakery, CaterMeFit and Amici’s Catered Cuisine in Airside F.
“Our redevelopment program will give our guests and passengers access to more choices than ever before,” Valentine says. “We are putting more options near gates where passengers want them most. Overall, we are enhancing passenger experience.”
 
Total construction is set to be completed by late 2017.

Surge of multi-family residential development seen in South Tampa

Like many sections of Tampa, South Tampa is experiencing a surge of development as new townhouses and villas go up.  

Waverly Courtyard Villas
 
This new community is finishing up construction on its final two buildings, which are townhomes, situated at the corner of MacDill and Euclid Avenues. Each townhome has four bedrooms and four bathrooms, with more than 2,600 square-feet.
 
“The townhomes feature an open floor plan that is perfectly suited for entertaining,” says Bill Andrasco, who represents the construction company on the project, ODC Construction. “The custom kitchen is very stylish, with its maple cabinetry, granite counters and top-of-the-line appliances.”
 
Other amenities include energy efficient, impact-resistant windows, as well as a detached, private guest suites with full bath and kitchenette above a detached two-car garage.
 
“The South Tampa area is a bubbling and lively atmosphere,” Andrasco says. “Living in the area puts you walking distance from some of Tampa's best restaurants, wine shops, specialty stores and more.”
 
Construction on the mid-$500,000 priced townhouses will be completed May 2016.
 
Grant Place

Located near the intersection of Azeele Street and Armenia Avenue, Grant Place is under construction. This new development will feature triplex townhomes. Each townhouse will be three-bedrooms, two-and-a-half-bathrooms and will be approximately 2,200 square-feet.

Features of these low-to-mid $500,000 priced townhomes include a loft, Mediterranean-style design with tile roof and covered patio. The location of the community is within walking distance to several restaurants, Publix Greenwise and Starbucks.

Casa De Leon

Another of the more luxurious projects under construction in South Tampa is Casa De Leon, which will be located on West DeLeon Street. The development includes six luxury townhomes pre-selling in the low-to-mid $500,000s. These three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom homes have amenities such as a study and game room, optional elevator and second floor lanai.

The three-story home is also good for the environment with Energy Star windows, high efficiency heat pumps and electric heat strips with thermostats that can be programmed as well as a tankless water heater.

Construction on Casa De Leon is expected to be complete Fall 2016.

Innovative aquaponics facility in Tampa Bay to grow produce, farm fish

Looking for a place where you could get fresh organic fish, as well as produce free of chemicals and fertilizers here in the Tampa Bay area? Now, what if these fish and produce would come from a building and not the ocean or farm land?
 
That is the innovative concept behind Global Aquaponic Inc. (GAI). It is a concept that the company wants to bring to the Tampa Bay area..

The specific location has not been yet determined.
 
If you have ever taken a ride through ‘The Land’ exhibit in EPCOT at the Walt Disney World resort, you may have seen how similar systems work. Basically, it is an alternative way to grow produce and farm fish in a controlled environment without the use of pesticides.
 
“Aquaponics uses up to 90 percent less water than traditional soil-based farming and therefore preserves our fresh water,” Bradshaw says. “Chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are poisonous to our environment; therefore we do not use any of those.”
 
Bradshaw goes on to say that although there is no start date as of yet, the facility can be completed and fully producing in one year from start to finish.  Which also means green job creation for the area.
 
“The aquaponics system will be comprised of two separate entities: a fish facility and a greenhouse,” he says. The fish facility will require two dedicated employees, a manager and an assistant manager, as well as one full-time employee. The greenhouse will require 12 to 24 full-time employees for the greenhouse bays.”
 
For more information on the company, visit their website.

HART, St. Pete College team up on sustainability project

HART and St. Petersburg College are teaming up to find innovative solutions for more sustainable living. The initiative created by HART is part of the company’s Environmental & Sustainability Management Program (ESMS). Together with students from St. Petersburg College’s (SPC) College of Business the team has already started to implement a solid waste recycling program.
 
“The initial goal of the recycling project is to increase the landfilil diversion rates at two facilities from zero to 10 percent, and reduce the solid waste management costs at those facilities by 10 percent,” says Sandra Morrison of HART.
 
Morrison explains that the project is also part of the “Design for Six Sigma” HART project, which uses Lean Six Sigma techniques and tools to find solutions for the great amount of solid waste the company produces.
 
To meet all of these goals, college seniors from SPC enrolled in the Sustainability Management degree have been recruited to work on this project. Together HART environmental staff and SPC students are developing innovative ways to decrease solid waste management costs, quantify how much waste is disposed by passengers and improve resource optimization.
 
According to Morrison, HART not only has its doors opened to students for this current project, but will continue to accept students for future projects as well.

“Any individual student or group of students who are in the capstone course at St. Petersburg College’s College of Business can use our operations to conduct their senior projects,” she says. “HART has electricity, carbon, water, and waste reduction initiatives currently underway so there are plenty of opportunities for students to apply their skills in a real-world context.”

Waterline: New resort coming to Anna Maria Island, Bradenton

Waterfront suites, water activities and signature restaurant are just a few luxuries that will be included in a new resort coming to Anna Maria Island just off the Gulf coast by Bradenton in Manatee County.

The Waterline Resort, which will open in fall 2016, is the latest project for the Mainsail Lodging & Development team. The team is also known for their work on the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa.
 
This new project on Anna Maria Island, which is located just minutes from Bradenton, will offer guests both luxury and excitement.
 
“The resort will feature 37 stylish 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom suites with gourmet kitchens, says Joe Collier, President  of Mainsail Lodging & Development. “Waterline’s separate beach club will offer exclusive beach access with kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, lounge chairs, umbrellas, beach toys and a ‘desalination zone’ for guests to cool down and relax.”
 
Collier, a graduate of Florida State University, says the resort will also offer 2,000-square-feet of meeting space, a signature restaurant and bar and a 50-slip marina.
 
“The Waterline marina will be the center of aquatic activity at the resort with boat slips for guests who arrive by water, charter boats for family outings, eco-tours, guided fishing excursions, sailing adventures and daily sunset cruises,” he says.  
 
Collier also notes that Waterline has already formed a partnership with the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
 
“Based on a shared commitment to environmental stewardship, Waterline is looking forward to establishing a unique, strictly educational partnership with the world-renowned Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium,” he says. “The educational partnership is planned to include a variety of eco-experiences and will enhance and enrich the overall destination experience for Waterline guests and locals alike.”
 
The Waterline Resort will be located at 5325 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach on the East shore of Anna Maria Island. For more information, visit the resort’s website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Pasco community opens first model homes

Starkey Ranch, situated on more than 2,400 acres along State Road 54 and close to conservation and wildlife preserves in Pasco County, is now open for potential homebuyers to take a look at model homes.

The planned community spans just east of Gunn Highway to Starkey Boulevard. With plans to become a full community, complete with a grocery store, retail and restaurants, Starkey Ranch recently opened its first four model homes for future residents to tour.
 
According to Matt Call, Project Director at Starkey Ranch, the model homes vary in sizes from three bedrooms to five bedrooms, with some homes overlooking the water or conservation areas, and others close to a new community park.
 
“Starkey Ranch provides residents with a unique opportunity to live close to nature and walk or hike, there are so many outdoor options being next to the preserve,” he says.
 
In addition to the natural elements the community offers, Call says the neighborhood will also have a lifestyle manager who will help residents get to know their neighbors, as well as plan events for the community. 
 
“We will be having monthly events moving forward, but for the month of October, we are having weekly events each Saturday during what we’re calling Fun for Fall,” he says. “Anyone is welcome to come to these events to see the community, and get a feel for what we’re all about.”
 
Homes in the first neighborhood, Whitfield Park, start in the mid $200,000s and go up to $1 million. Whitfield Park features a community lawn, dog parks, a playground, picnic pavilions and a neighborhood pool opening next spring.
 
All of the homes throughout Starkey Ranch will be designed to meet or exceed national green building standards with energy efficient appliances and natural gas service.  
 
“Green is more than a just a philosophy for us,” Call says. “It’s very important to us to be good stewards of the environment, especially given the surroundings where the community is located.”
 
Model homes and the Starkey Ranch Welcome Center are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. For more information on monthly events, or to view home plans visit the Starkey Ranch website.

Heritage Village in Pinellas upgrades its paths with innovative, sustainable pavement

The pathway through yesteryear that winds in and around Heritage Village is now environmentally friendly, thanks to a company based out of Pinellas and its trademarked product.
 
KB Industries (KBI), recently installed its signature product known as Flexi®-Pave, a porous pavement made of recycled tires that allow for water to flow through the material. This process eliminates standing water, which reduces pollution from storm water run-off while also controlling erosion.
 
KBI Founder and CEO Kevin Bagnall explains just how well the product can process water.
 
“We allow water to go through our materials at a rate of 3,000-gallons-per-square-foot-per-hour, and we make sure the water does not come back up or crack, it is very stable,” he says.
 
Bagnall, who moved to this country from England in 1992, has been in the industry for nearly 30 years. His company, which is headquartered in Pinellas Park, employs 15 full-time employees at the corporate office, and over 150 employees worldwide, with more growth to come.
 
“This year we expect to add six more employees at our corporate headquarters, as well as contracting positions around the country to install our products,” Bagnall says. “We plan to add a chief mechanical officer, national sales director, an internal sales position and some technical sales positions as well.”
 
He goes on to say that the need to create more jobs is related to more projects including plans to do work at Yellowstone National Park, and other projects out West. There are also plans to open an office on the west coast.
 
As for Heritage Village, the park that attracts tourists, students and families, the sustainable pavement provides a solution for their need to meet ADA requirements, while blending in with the historic landscape.
 
“The Pinellas County chief engineer contacted me because the pavement they had before was cracking and did not meet the ADA requirements,” Bagnall says. “With our product not cracking, and also being sustainable and flexible for use around trees, we fit the bill.”
 
To see Flexi®-Pave at Heritage Village, you can visit the park at 11909 125th Street North in Largo. For park hours, visit their website.

BLUE Ocean Film Festival opens new headquarters in St. Pete

As waves lap the Gulf of Mexico shoreline less than two miles away, the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit opens its new global headquarters in the heart of St. Pete. The main office at 646 2nd Ave. S. is already abuzz with activities surrounding preparations for the city to host the 2016 BLUE Ocean Film Festival.

The annual festival sheds light on problems plaguing the world's oceans and solutions for conservation by showcasing the best in ocean filmmaking and scientific research. The seven-day event moved to St. Petersburg in 2014 from Monterey CA, will be hosted by the government of Prince Albert II in Monaco in November 2015 and then will return to St. Pete in November 2016.

The nonprofit works year-round to educate people on the importance of ocean life and conservation. From summits and conferences to workshops and educational outreach programs, the organization tries to teach as many populations as possible.

“It’s always been a part of our long-term strategy to use film as a tool to raise awareness,” says Debbie Kinder, CEO and co-Founder of BLUE Ocean. “We have always wanted to have workshops, activities and mentoring to show that conservation work is a great career option.”

The organization’s “Blue on Tour” program travels the world showcasing its films and engaging conversations on the global value of the oceans.

“We need one strong home base and St. Pete is it,” Kinder says. “We would love for BLUE to be associated with St. Pete the way that Sundance is associated with Park City.”

The 6,000-square-foot headquarters that Kinder refers to as ''home base'' is being leased, though the nonprofit is getting a temporary break on rent.

“There is a long-term lease, however, early on there are no rent payments due,” says Robert Glaser, President and CEO of Smith and Associates. Glaser did minor renovations on the property, although he says the building was in excellent shape and did not need much done. Long-term, when the festival is more financially sound, he anticipates collecting rent for use of the building.

Clearwater designs investment in U.S. 19 corridor to stimulate local economy

The City of Clearwater is adopting new zoning standards along U.S. 19  in an effort to make the Pinellas County transportation corridor more economically attractive for businesses and residents. The corridor runs seven miles from Belleair Road to the south to Curlew Road to the north, and includes a portion of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard to the east.
 
"The primary intent of the project is to support the transition of the U.S. 19 corridor from its historic status as an unlimited access major arterial, to something that is economically viable in the context of the limited access like a freeway environment,'' says Michael Delk, Director of Planning and Development for the City of Clearwater.
 
The project is being funded by federal stimulus funds in the amount of $350,000 from the Obama Administration and has been rolled out into three phases. 
 
"The first phase was the greenprint, which was set towards sustainability issues, one component of which, was trying to promote more transit,'' says Delk. "We followed that with the plan of the U.S. 19 corridor, and now we are in the third phase, which is the implementation phase.''
 
The purpose of the project is to get more people living along the corridor, increasing employment opportunities, and promoting a greater reliance on transit as an option along the corridor.
 
"Clearly I don't need to describe the brand that is Westshore,'' he says. "When someone hears the words 'Westshore,' they know where it is and what it is. It s a huge area and it's got its own brand, and I think in the longer term, U.S. 19 has the potential to be something of similar importance in terms of economic development.''

The Ella at ENCORE! Tampa earns Gold LEED certification

The Ella at ENCORE! Tampa has been awarded a prestigious LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. 

The apartment building, one of four newly built in the planned community designed to accommodate 2,500 residents on 40 acres between downtown Tampa and Ybor City, is already at full capacity. The neighborhood developers are working to build and attract retail and other amenities to further serve residents. 
 
The developers -- the Tampa Housing Authority along with the Bank of America CDC -- sponsored a celebration of the LEED certification in March attended by Ed Jennings, the highest ranking HUD official in the southeastern United States. 

“The LEED Gold Certification for Ella at ENCORE! means this building is a showcase example of sustainable design,’’ says VP and COO Leroy Moore, Sr. of the Tampa Bay Housing Authority. “LEED Gold certification requires efficiency in design at every level starting with building orientation to maximize solar exposure, a commitment to some of the most advanced energy efficient equipment from windows and doors, water conservation, waste recycling, heating and cooling, low emitting, volatile organic compounds in finishes such as carpeting and painting, just to name a few.’’

Robert Ledford of Baker Barrios, whose design team helped the building achieve the certification, says he is proud of the accomplishment and credits all of the people who were involved. 

“This is a great achievement for the team, however, there was a lot of effort on behalf our partnerships to achieve this,’’ he says. “It is a great win for all of us, and we look forward to the projects ahead.’’

Community kitchen brings new hope to Tampa's University area

Combating adult obesity begins with small steps, like the community garden that the University Area Community Development Corporation (UACDC) first opened in Tampa in November 2013 to provide residents with access to healthy food. Now, the group has opened the Harvest Hope Center Kitchen to further help residents of Tampa’s university area learn about healthy eating and sustainability. 

UACDC first began making moves toward a healthier Tampa by teaching University of South Florida area residents how to maintain beds of leafy greens and cultivate an array of hearty vegetables in the community garden on North 20th Street.

In March 2015, the program’s efforts expanded with the opening of the Harvest Hope Center Kitchen, directly adjacent to the community garden, with the aim of teaching more members of the university area community about healthy habits and nutritious eating. 

The Harvest Hope Center Kitchen, located at 13704 N. 20th St., is designed to serve residents of the University area, a community that has been the focus of economic revitalization efforts in recent months.

“We believe that educating residents about good nutrition can make a positive, long-term impact on those in our neighborhood,” says UACDC’s Executive Director and CEO Sarah Combs in a news release.

The Harvest Hope Center Kitchen is a fully functional kitchen that provides a classroom-like setting for lessons in nutrition and opportunities for cooking demonstrations, using fruits and vegetables from the community garden. Lessons will focus on teaching residents about the nutritious benefits of the items, along with their seasonal attributes.

“The opening of the Harvest Hope Center Kitchen is a key component in building and keeping a strong, healthy community,” Combs said.

The Harvest Hope Center Kitchen is made possible by community partners and sponsors, including: the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring, Whitwam Organics, the Westchase Rotary Club, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Code Enforcement.

Community partners and sponsors provide the renovations, equipment, education and support for the Harvest Hope Center Kitchen.

Combs, along with UACDC’s board Chairman Gene Marshall, board Secretary T.J. Couch, Jr., and board members Jo Easton and Darlene Stanko, led the Harvest Hope Center Kitchen ribbon cutting in late February 2015.

UACDC is a 501c3 public/private partnership based in Tampa’s University Area Community Center Complex at 14013 N. 22nd St. The UACDC is focused on helping to redevelop and sustain the areas around the University of South Florida through children and family development, crime prevention and commerce growth.

To learn more about upcoming classes and events at the Harvest Hope Center, or for details on services and programs available through the University Area Community Development Corporation, contact the UACDC by visiting the organization’s website or calling 813-558-5212. 

Adventure Island opens new water slide in Tampa

The newest attraction at the Adventure Island water park near Busch Gardens, Colossal Curl, sends riders along a slide standing nearly 70 feet high and measuring 560 feet in length. The ride features corkscrews, high speeds and waterfalls, an experience unlike anything else in the Tampa Bay area. 

While the water slide is notable as the first new attraction at Adventure Island since 2006, Colossal Curl is significant for another reason – it represents yet another sustainable project for parent company SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which operates Adventure Island and neighboring theme park Busch Gardens. 

Colossal Curl stands on the site of Gulf Scream, a water slide that was built in 1982 and removed a few months ago to make way for the new family thrill slide. 

“The wood, metal, and concrete from the previous slide was recycled at various facilities throughout Florida,” says park spokesman Travis Claytor. “Plus, we just refurbished the Adventure Island parking lot by using the existing asphalt, having it finely ground then mixed to create a base for new parking lot.” 

Across McKinley Drive at sister park Busch Gardens, recent construction projects have been completed with a similar efforts toward environmental sustainability.
 
Last year, when Busch Gardens opened the newly reimagined section of Pantopia in an area of the park once known as Timbuktu, one of the most popular attractions became a unique gift shop called Painted Camel Bazaar. Standing in the shadow of the new 335-foot-tall Falcon’s Fury drop tower thrill ride, Painted Camel Bazaar was built in a renovated structure that previously served as the West African Trading Company.
 
“In this shop, we used lumber from the old gift shop to make the new fixtures and used the wood spools that the Falcon’s Fury cables were shipped on to make display counters,” Claytor says. Merchandise ranges from apparel to housewares that have been made from recycled and repurposed materials. 

In 2011, when the triple-launch Cheetah Hunt roller coaster was being built, the park saved two large structures and repurposed them for the new attraction – a move that potentially spared tons of old concrete and metal from going to landfills. Also, the old Clydesdale barn was converted into the new cheetah housing area. 

“These (sustainability) efforts also extend to the animal habitats at Busch Gardens,” Claytor says. “For instance, we take groundwater that flows into the trenches on Cheetah Hunt, filter the water and use it to put water back into the hippo habitat.” 

Originally opened in 1959 as an Anheuser-Busch brewery hospitality center, Busch Gardens is acclaimed in the zoological community for building naturalistic habitats that serve as sanctuaries for some of the world’s most endangered animal species. The park also participates in the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, a 501 (c)(3) program that distributes 100 percent of its proceeds to animal rescue and rehabilitation, conservation education, habitat protection and species research around the world.

'Building a Healthier Sulphur Springs' project aims to create safe, energy-efficient Tampa homes

Slowly but surely, efforts to transform a long-neglected neighborhood north of downtown Tampa are taking shape.

“Building a Healthier Sulphur Springs” is a new collaborative community program that will address the shortage of safe, suitable housing in the neighborhood, a factor that Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay says increases housing instability and transiency in the area.

Sulphur Springs is a blighted section of Tampa known for high crime rates and low income but the neighborhood was, decades ago, a destination that attracted tourists with its sulphur waters, spring-fed swimming pool and lively storefronts.

“Through our neighborhood revitalization initiative known as ‘Building a Healthier Sulphur Springs,’ Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay intends to improve the living conditions of this community for its present and future residents,” says RTTB Executive Director Jose Garcia.

Creating stable opportunities for children, improving general wellbeing and developing more positive neighborhood settings are part of the “Building a Healthier Sulphur Springs” program goals.

The program is “uniquely positioned for success because of the collaborations formed with numerous nonprofit organizations that are part of the Sulphur Springs Neighborhood of Promise and the support of the City of Tampa,” Garcia says.

“Building a Healthier Sulphur Springs” services aim to make homes in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood safer, healthier and more energy efficient. This will include implementing the “Healthy Home Kit” in many homes: a combination of learning workshops for residents and on-going community support in the form of home repairs and services.

Efforts to revitalize the low-income community in Sulphur Springs have been underway for several years, with the opening of Springhill Community Center and Layla's House, which offers parenting programs and resources for children to neighborhood families. The Sulphur Springs Neighborhood of Promise, which was founded in the mid-2000’s by the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA in partnership with local organizations like United Way Suncoast and the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, led the efforts to open Layla’s House.

Backed by federal funding, the City of Tampa also initiated the Nehemiah Project, an effort to tear down dozens of dilapidated abandoned Sulphur Springs houses, in 2014.

“We have strong support from various corporations and foundations that want to see the neighborhood stabilize and thrive in their new environment,” says Garcia. “We look forward to sharing the outcomes with everyone in the Tampa Bay area.”

The “Building a Healthier Sulphur Springs” project launches at 10:30am on Thursday, March 19, at the Abundant Life Worship Center, 8117 N. 13th St. “Healthy Home Kits” will be installed in the homes of several Sulphur Springs residents following the program kickoff.

RTTB, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitating neighborhood homes and providing home repair services to low-income families as well as elderly residents, wounded veterans or those with disabilities, has already renovated or repaired more than 350 neighborhood homes through sponsorship support, labor and hundreds of volunteers. Services include anything from emergency repairs to weatherproofing or improvements to make homes more energy efficient.

More information is available at the Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay website.
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