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Sustainability : Development News

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Eco-friendly Communities Get New Design Guidelines

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

Memphis Chefs Go Sunny Side Up in Tampa

Sunny Side Up is a new beginning for Marci and Chuck Goldstein after more than 30 years of building a successful catering business in Memphis.
 
They are serving breakfast and lunch in a tiny restaurant around the corner from the Tampa Theatre at 305 Polk St. The spot for Sunny Side Up is a tight fit at about 400 square feet, but small is what the Goldsteins want -- at least for now.
 
"We wanted something so different... and to put it in a spot where no one else thinks it could work and make it a success," says Chuck Goldstein.
 
The cubby hole most recently was a success for owners of Duckweed Urban Market who relocated to a larger space on Tampa Street.
 
Menu items are made from scratch with fresh, local produce. Breads are from local bakery Buh-Bites; coffee is from Buddy Brew Coffee on Kennedy Boulevard.
 
Homemade Southern biscuits, challah, bagels, eggs, country ham, cheese grits and French toast casserole are on the breakfast menu. Lunches are grilled cheese sandwiches made with 11 varieties of cheese, meats and vegetables. And there is Chipotle chicken and gourmet mac & cheese. 
 
Every now and then the Goldsteins will change out the menu, gauging customer preferences and what local produce is available. Vegetarian and vegan options are available.
 
Soups of all kinds are made fresh daily by Marci Goldstein. "I have a knack for soups," she says. She misses Memphis, where she grew up, but says Tampa has been a good move.
 
They are empty-nesters with grown children pursuing their own careers. "We decided we needed a change," says 55-year-old Chuck Goldstein. "We wanted to go back to where we started. We're very eco-friendly, very green."
 
Where the couple started from in Memphis, Goldstein says, was "very poor, but we built and built and built."
 
Tampa's re-energized downtown of high-rises, shops and restaurants struck a chord with them. They make their home at Grand Central at Kennedy in the Channel District.
 
"It was very important that we live and work downtown," Chuck Goldstein says. 
 
Catering is still a mainstay for the couple who count some of Tampa's downtown businesses as clients including the law firm, Hill Ward Henderson
 
They believe in supporting the community where they live, and have reached out to nonprofits. At Christmas the couple pitched in to cook a holiday meal for clients of Metropolitan Ministries.
 
"It's our way of giving back," Chuck Goldstein says.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Chuck Goldstein, Sunny Side Up

Love Your City? Participate In Local Tactical Urbanism Workshop

Urbanists from all over the Tampa Bay region are invited to participate in a Tactical Urbanism Movement workshop on Wednesday, October 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Beck Group, 220 West 7th Avenue, in Tampa.

Tactical Urbanism is a rapidly growing international movement of small-scale, temporary, low-cost, high-reward actions that lead to an immediate improvement in a community's public life, often followed by long-term urban interventions. Guerilla Gardening, Pavement-to-Parks or Reclaiming a Parking Space are some of the examples of Tactical Urbanism that are currently being applied by citizens in many U.S. cities.
 
The local Tactical Urbanism Workshop is coordinated by the Sun Coast Section of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, in collaboration with the Congress for New Urbanism-Tampa Bay. Mike Lydon, an internationally recognized planner, writer and an advocate for livable cities, will lead the workshop.

"It will be exciting to be a part of this urban place-making movement that is currently sweeping our country's major cities,'' says Lauren Matzke, a Clearwater City Planner and the workshop's main coordinator.

As a part of the workshop, participants will get hands-on experience in planning and intervening on an actual site in Downtown Tampa. Apart from promising a fun planning experience, the workshop also intends to train the participants on how to plan, fund and carry out these projects throughout the Tampa Bay region.

The event is expected to draw a variety of participants such as engaged citizens, stakeholders, designers, engineers, urban planners, students, local leaders, government officials and other advocates who are passionate about their city and urban experiences. You can RSVP here.

Tactical Urbanism was named as one of the top trends in 2012 by the urban planning website Planetizen. Implementation of this movement in the Tampa Bay region is expected to inspire innovative planning ideas, urban interventions and collaborations.

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Lauren Matzke, City of Clearwater

Architects Upgrade Historic Grocery To LEED Standards

A local architecture firm recently renovated a former grocery store into the City of Tampa's first historic building restored to U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold standards.

The 1930s historic grocery store, located at 1708 E. Columbus Dr. in Tampa, is now home to Clearwater’s Design Styles Architecture+ (dsa+). The firm spent the past year restoring and repairing extensive structural damage, turning an old, dilapidated building into an "exciting, functional, energy-efficient and historic office space,'' says Andy Dohmen, AIA, Design Styles' principal.

During renovations, Dohmen and his team set out to attain LEED Golf Certification for New Construction and Major Renovations, transforming the 5,000-square-foot, two-story historic Ybor City building into yet another example of environmentally friendly growth in the greater Tampa Bay community.

"We outgrew our Clearwater office and were looking for a new home,'' Dohmen says. "[This building] was the perfect choice, and now that construction is complete and we have settled in, we are 'going for the gold' by applying for the USGBC LEED certification.''

Now a usable office space, the building performs 36 percent more efficiently; contains certified plumbing fixtures that reduce water use by 20 percent, which will save an estimated 13,000 gallons of water annually; uses brick pavers in the parking area and a reflective roof to help to reduce heat island effect; contains salvaged and re-used structurally sound material; and features better indoor air quality, including strict use of low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emitting materials, a 25-foot smoke-free zone around the entire building perimeter and daylight optimization, providing natural light to more than 75 percent of regularly occupied spaces in the building.

"By utilizing LEED standards in the historic rehabilitation, we maintained much of the building's original fabric, keeping the same decorative molding and original tile in the baths and kitchen,'' Dohmen says. "Additionally, we incorporated new elements such as the roof, reinforced exterior wall and entire second floor reconstruction including electrical, plumbing, mechanical and air conditioning systems.''

LEED contributes to a community's smart growth and is the rating system for the design, construction and performance of green buildings. An open house is planned for the building on August 29th.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Andy Dohmen, DSA+

New Port Richey Library Launches New Community Gardening Programs

Books are no longer the only thing you can check out at your local library.

The New Port Richey Public Library launches a Seed Exchange program August 20. Residents will be able to visit the library and check out one of 168 varieties of organic, heirloom seeds, returning them when the plants bear fruit or vegetables. The seeds can be found in drawers, categorized by plant name and labeled easy, medium or advanced depending on the difficulty of growing each type of plant. The seeds can even be searched using the library’s electronic database.  

On the same day, the library is celebrating the city’s new Community Garden Project. An ordinance was passed recently that encourages the use of vacant lots for local residents to come together and grow fruits and vegetables, turning what used to be eye sores into spaces for urban renewal.

The goal of both programs is to encourage people to grow their own food and share it with others, increasing local food production and community collaboration.

"Both initiatives make people aware of ecology and encourage them to have healthier choices and produce their own food locally," says Ann Scott, associate director of the New Port Richey Library. "All of it is geared toward making our community become a more sustainable, healthier place."

The library also provides ongoing education to help those who want to grow their own gardens, even in small spaces.

The celebration begins at 11 am at the New Port Richey Library, in conjunction with the Tasty Tuesday open market which takes place every week on Tuesday, allowing local gardeners to sell organic produce in the library’s courtyard.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Susan Dillinger, Ann Scott, New Port Richey Library

Duckweed Urban Market Will Host Big Grand Reopening

For almost two years, downtown Tampa has been home to a little grocery shop called Duckweed Urban Market. Now in a new, larger location on the ground floor of the Element on Tampa Street, Duckweed offers more goodies and is more visible to more customers. A three-day grand reopening will celebrate the new space this week.

After getting to know the client market in the charming original location, Duckweed owner Michelle Deatherage, made the decision to make the move to a bigger space with great exposure. Duckweed's new home of 2,500 square feet is attached to residential and very accessible to downtown workers. The shop offers a great mix of necessities and gourmet items.  It features café seating indoors and out, a kitchen, and a nearly completed lounge on a lofted second level.

The edgy neighborhood market carries unique items and shows their sense of humor through some their merchandise. 

"We are urban," says Deatherage. "Local is awesome to us, organic is better, and we want to be that neighborhood store that caters to what you need. If you don’t see it, we’ll order it. We sell a lot of items made by other local, small businesses."

The name Duckweed has a lot of meaning. When looking for a name for the urban market, Deatherage researched some of the smallest things in the world and found the world’s smallest flowering plant, duckweed. 

"It's ubiquitous and native to Florida, a great source of protein, and we carry it at the store," explains Deatherage.

Grand reopening events begin on Thursday, June 25, with Pet-A-Palooza offering a 10 percent discount on all animal products. Friday, July 26, is your opportunity to sample 70 store products during 70s-Night. The extravaganza concludes on Saturday, July 27, with Shopping-in-the-Raw, an ode to raw food at which you're encouraged to shop in your bathrobe.

Duckweed Urban Market is open daily from 10am until 10pm. 

Writer: Taryn Sabia                   
Source: Michelle Deatherage, owner

Encore Rising: Downtown Tampa’s Mixed-Use Redevelopment Grows

Encore, the $425 million mixed-use redevelopment venture between the Tampa Housing Authority and the Banc of America Community Development Corporation, spans 12 city blocks of downtown Tampa, where Cass Street meets Nebraska Avenue.

The emerging neighborhood not only spans the physical distance between Ybor City and the Central Business District, it bridges generations of people while recognizing the city's rich musical history.

Four Encore residential buildings are in various stages of development. Ella, is already home to active, senior residents and nearly 100 percent occupied. Trio is designed for families with children, singles and couples. Preleasing for the mixed-income apartment homes will begin toward the end of the year. Reed, will break ground in mid-August and will be home to active seniors. Tempo, currently in design, will begin construction in early 2014 and families can choose from one, two, three or four bedroom mixed-income apartment homes.

Young professionals, families and active seniors alike will be moving into downtown Tampa’s Encore development. Of the combined 649 units, 305 are dedicated for active seniors.   

"We welcome our first residents, and look forward to having many others join them as this vibrant downtown neighborhood continues to take shape," says Senior VP Eileen Pope of Banc of America Community Development Corporation.  The project will continue over the next seven to nine years and when complete, more than 2,500 people will call Encore home.

From environmentally sustainable construction and public art to a new park and public middle school, Encore brings together Tampa's history with vibrant redevelopment, serves as a catalyst for economic investment and creates an enduring future through a multigenerational neighborhood.

Writier: Taryn Sabia
Source: Eileen Pope, Banc of America Community Development Corporation

Grants Encourage Street Scene In Downtown Tampa

Downtown Tampa's public realm has seen vast improvements over the past few years. New parks, restaurants, museums, well-planned events and Riverwalk improvements are generating activity in public spaces like never before.   

Now the Tampa Downtown Partnership is offering businesses grants up to $2,500 to help make the urban street scene even livelier.

The Storefront and Sidewalk Cafe Grant Program supports enhancements to exterior, ground floor storefront properties.

"The purpose of the Tampa Downtown Storefront and Sidewalk Cafe Grant Program is to create a more attractive pedestrian atmosphere, and commercially vibrant environment through street level storefront improvements and inviting sidewalk cafe settings," says Shaun Drinkard, Director of Placemaking for the Tampa Downtown Partnership. "The program began in March of this year and the applications are seeking improvements that are engaging and pedestrian oriented.''

Kurdi's Fresh Mediterranean Grill, located on the corner of Tampa Street and Polk Street at Skypoint, is one of the first storefront businesses to qualify for program funding. The restaurant, which offers a healthy and unique fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine used the reimbursable grant "to expand their available seating to the outside through cafe tables, and planters were used to create an inviting experience for their patrons and passersby," says Adam Fritz, an urban designer with Baker Barrios Architects and grant chair. Duckweed Urban Market, Taps and the CI Group have also been approved.  

The maximum amount a storefront improvement project can receive is 50 percent of the total project budget, up to $2,500. The grant may be used for design, labor, materials or permitting fees related to façade improvements, cafe furniture, landscaping, signage, lighting and more. 

"The greater the connection between the life of the street and the activity at the base [of buildings], the more inviting the street and hence the more memorable experience of the city," Fritz says.

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Sources: Shaun Drinkard, Tampa Downtown Partnership; Adam Fritz, Baker Barrios Architects

Trammell Crow Spreads Sustainable Development Worldwide

Trammell Crow Company started its focus on sustainable design and development in 2005. Since 2006, the company has completed over 20 million square feet of LEED certified projects, with more in the pipeline.

About 85 percent of the company’s projects are LEED certified, which are 30-40 percent more efficient than traditional buildings.

"The whole idea is to leverage knowledge. To see the best of what’s going on around the country and make sure that we are constantly building on top of the best of what we see done when we take on a new development," says Robert Abberger, Senior Managing Director and Chief Sustainability Officer for Trammell Crow Company.

One such concept is the use of potable water to fuel cooling systems so the condensed water generated can then be pumped back into the water and sewer system, creating a multiplier effect.

Abberger notes that the biggest energy user in the world is commercial buildings (even more so than cars or residences), creating huge implications for the impact on human health and the environment.

Projects in Tampa Bay include the Marriott Waterside in downtown Tampa, an intermodal facility at the Port of Ybor and Posner Commons on I-4.

A flagship project is Darden's global headquarters in Orlando. Since Trammell Crow Company developed the building, the company has taken sustainability to the next level, reducing potable water consumption by more than 1 billion gallons per year throughout its 1,700 restaurants.

Abberger says his job is particularly rewarding when clients share his passion and excitement for sustainability. "The things that we’re doing have a national impact, which is then carried to international activities. It’s pretty rewarding."

The company is one of 13 local businesses honored recently with The University of Tampa's Earth Charter Sustainable Business Awards. The awards were based on three criteria: people (employee and community wellbeing), planet (environmental health) and profit (economic viability).

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Robert Abberger, Trammell Crow Company

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

Business Owners Looking To Improve Dog Parks, Davis Islands

Two local Tampa Bay business owners and Davis Islands residents have teamed up to keep island dog owners and visitors happy and healthy, creating Friends of Davis Islands Dog Parks through the Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Program.

Assisting City of Tampa Parks and Recreation in maintaining and improving both the Davis Islands Dog Beach and Dog Park, Carolyn Bigley of Davis Islands Pet Care and Jenn Fadal of Wag Natural Pet Market and Bathhouse formed the not-for-profit Friends of Davis Islands Dog Parks as an on-going, long-term community effort in partnership with Friends of Tampa Recreation, Inc.

Bigley and Fadal's new organization will work to raise funds and encourage volunteerism in an attempt to help create, maintain and improve off-leash waterfront dog parks; promote responsible pet ownership and environmental protection through community outreach and events; and create an environment where dog owners follow good “dog park etiquette.”

“Residents, veterinarians, dog trainers and behaviorists have mixed feelings about dog parks, but in my opinion, they are necessary. Most behavioral problems in dogs are largely due to a lack of exercise -- dogs cannot be leashed all of the time. They need to be able to run free and socialize and these parks give them the opportunity to do so,” Bigley says.

Adding that most dog parks end up having challenges, she says Davis Islands' public dog spaces are no different.

“Irresponsible pet owners not picking up poop is the number one issue, especially at the Dog Beach so close to the Tampa Bay,” she says. “Reports of dogs being dumped at the parks and an overall general disregard and respect for the park has made many islanders no longer use the parks, especially on the weekends.”

Bigley and Fadal are looking to change that, believing care for the parks has slowly declined over the years. Bigley says dog parks should benefit the community by providing a safe, clean area for dogs to be off the leash.

But in just the past few months, many improvements have already been made to the Davis Island Dog Park, thanks to John Allen and Earl Olson of Tampa Parks and Recreation: Fences have been repaired and painted and kiosks and benches have been fixed and are being maintained.

One of Friends' first fund-raising projects will be to create a memorial plaque wall where folks can purchase a plaque in memory of a lost pet. Plans for a memorial garden are also in the works.

“Friends started as a simple idea of making the parks cleaner, fixing up a few things and just beautifying them a bit, but its mission has become much more than that," Bigley says. "We encourage residents to get involved.”

To become a sponsor or to learn more about getting involved with Friends of Davis Islands Dog Parks, including weekly and monthly clean-ups, visit the official website and Facebook page.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Carolyn Bigley & Jenn Fadal, Friends of Davis Islands Dog Parks

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

New Home Interior Design Store Coming To Sarasota

Downtown Sarasota will soon have a new home interior design store.

Featuring 2,200 square feet of elegant, uncommon and artisan home furnishings for local beach and waterfront resort homes in Sarasota, Pecky will become an addition to the Starbucks and Whole Foods development located on 100 Central Ave. in Sarasota. A a grand opening and open house will be held on April 3rd and 4th.

“Our recovered lumber business of cypress, black cypress, pecky cypress and heart pine was an instigator of the store's formation,” says Owner Patricia Estes, who operates the store along with her husband, Peter. Pecky cypress wood will be seen throughout the store, recovered by Estes Recovered Lumber.

Offering an abundance of classic, liveable wood furniture; wall and ceiling applications; and linen sofas and chairs, Estes says Pecky's new showroom will offer several lines of home furnishings new to Sarasota and the surrounding area.

“If you are looking for an upscale, relaxed, quality, earth-friendly feeling for your beach abode, Pecky is where you want to start,” Estes says. “The store will hopefully fulfill an element of quality and design-driven décor for our lovely community.”

Pecky will focus on artisan products sourced throughout the United States and will offer home interior services.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Patricia Estes, Pecky

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 Nature Park, Trails Open In New Tampa

A new city park is now open in New Tampa for active residents and visitors to enjoy outdoor activities such as bicycling and ziplining.

Located at 17001 Dona Michelle Dr. in New Tampa, the 122-acre New Tampa Nature Park connects to Hillsborough County's 7-mile, 400-acre Flatwoods Park trail system. Together, the two parks give Tampa Bay area residents access to miles of trails and preserved green space; not to mention the opportunity to keep an eye out for native wildlife.

“The New Tampa Nature Park is a great, active park,” says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

An elevated boardwalk -- “nature walk'' -- crossing a wetland habitat, elevated "marsh walk,” rock and rope playground climber, zip lining system and a one-half mile long entrance road are among some of the activities offered at the new Nature Park.

“Children can explore nature,” Buckhorn says. “Our commitment to New Tampa is not just in roads and sewers, but is embodied in our parks and playgrounds, as well.”

Funded through Community Investment Taxes, Phase I of the project cost approximately $927,469, including stormwater control elements and parking for 22 cars and two buses. General contractor for Phase I was QGS Development, Inc.

Land for the 122-acre park was acquired through assistance with the Florida Communities Trust Preservation 2000 and Hillsborough County Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection programs.

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