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 Rogers Park Golf Course and the Hillborough River from above. - Julie Branaman
Rogers Park Golf Course and the Hillborough River from above. - Julie Branaman | Show Photo

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City Of Tampa Launches Neighborhood University

Neighborhood Association leaders and others in Tampa now have a chance to build leadership skills and learn more about city government.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn recently launched a Neighborhood University program with the goal of encouraging civic association leaders while creating ambassadors for the City.

"It’s a great way for people to learn more about what’s going on in the City of Tampa and feel more a part of what’s happening," says Jake Slater, neighborhood empowerment administrator for the City of Tampa. "Most people only know what they see on the news and read in the paper. Now they will see the folks behind the scenes making it happen."

The city has more than 90 neighborhood associations tasked with maintaining or improving the quality of life and sense of community. Activities include historic preservation, crime watch and maintaining open lines of communication with city government.

The 12-session class kicks off September 10 and includes behind the scenes information about budgeting, Tampa Police and Fire Rescue and utilities as well as information about using social media. Participants will learn skills to help establish and maintain overall successful neighborhood organizations, as well as experience the inner workings of the City of Tampa administration.

The 65 participants selected from more than 150 applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, ages and occupations from attorneys to retired military to pastors.

"Tampa is moving very quickly," says Slater. "There’s a new energy, lots of things going on in downtown, Sulfur Springs, South Tampa," citing this as possible reasons for the high interest in the new program. "You go to downtown Tampa on the weekends, and it’s alive! It’s hard to find a place to park."

Next steps include finetuning the program with input from members as well as sharing it with other cities, who are already asking for more information.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jake Slater, City of Tampa

Plan Hillsborough's Future With Imagine 2040

A new effort by the Hillsborough County Planning Commission and the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization is encouraging Hillsborough County residents to participate in discussions about the future of both land use and transportation planning -- and you don't even have to leave your house.

The Imagine 2040 effort marks the first time in the history of Hillsborough County that the Planning Commission and Organization have been able to combine the land use and transportation plans together in one planning process. The 2040 Transportation and Comprehensive Plans will cover Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City and Hillsborough County.

"This effort is meant to be more wide-range, enabling citizens to participate in the planning process without ever physically having to attend a meeting by using computer and social media technology,'' says Executive Director Hillsborough County MPO Ray Chiaramonte. "We are very excited about this effort and the chance to really hear our citizens' opinions in a more comprehensive way so we can craft a plan that truly reflects the desires of our citizens.''

By 2040, Hillsborough County is expected to have up to 600,000 new residents and about 400,000 new jobs. According to Chiaramonte, Imagine 2040's goal is to work together to turn the challenges that come with growth into opportunities for a thriving future.

How should we grow? By spreading new residents and jobs throughout the county? By focusing on growth in the centers we've already developed and creating new job centers along our major highways? This is your opportunity to design the future of Hillsborough County.

"We're at an important crossroads. Do we want to be a true national leader for job creation and livability for a new generation of young, well-educated high tech workers that can provide the spark we need to become a competitive player with the top communities in this country and in the world?'' asks Chiaramonte. "We have so much going for us without doing a lot that it's certainly within our possibilities to be a mecca for high-paying jobs. We can play it safe and be comfortably mediocre or we can strategically plan for taking our assets and building upon them to create a truly unique, special community for our future and the future of generations to come.''

Ultimately, Imagine 2040 is expected to create a blueprint for the future of Hillsborough County as leaders take a leap forward to get things done. By leveraging federal planning dollars and combining them with local funds, a more comprehensive and unified planning process is available; this gives the county the opportunity to address issues while reaching more residents.

"Together, we can develop a plan that has all the aspects that people say they want and, by participating, they can help craft and represent what they believe our community should look like. Residents will have a plan that they helped craft and can believe in rather than a top-down approach where they just react to what planners think that the citizens want,'' says Chiaramonte. "This effort is the most ambitious public participation process regarding long-range planning that we have ever attempted in Hillsborough County.''

Several scenarios for growth and infrastructure will be drafted and circulated for public comment later in the year.

So, how should we grow? What is important to you? Click here to learn more about Imagine 2040 and how you can get involved today.

Writer: Alexis Chamberlain
Source: Ray Chiaramonte, Hillsborough County

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

C1 Bank Continues To Acquire Small Lenders

The green-and-white signage of C1 Bank, a Tampa Bay-based lending institution, seems to be popping up all over Florida.

The relative newcomer is rapidly establishing a reputation as one of the state's key community stakeholders as a result of four recent acquisitions.

The latest? C1 Bank acquired First Community Bank of Fort Myers, spreading the C1 brand deep into Southwest Florida with additional branches in Bonita Springs and Cape Coral.

"C1 Bank has grown into one of the largest and fastest-growing banks in Florida,'' says C1 Bank President Katie Pemble.

The bank now has 28 branches in Tampa Bay and southwest Florida, plus a loan production office in Miami. The bank's assets total approximately $1.3 billion.

C1 Bank CEO Trevor Burgess also won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award for 2013 in Florida in the Financial Services category for his leadership in the banking industry and in the community.

Writer: Diane Egner
Source: Trevor Burgess and Katie Pemble, C1 Bank

Tempo Picks Up As Encore! Rises Near Downtown Tampa

Construction is expected to begin in January on the Tempo, an apartment building designed for families with children as well as singles, in the growing Encore! project between downtown Tampa and Ybor City.

The Tempo is a 203-unit building with multipurpose room, a swimming pool, a theater, a parking garage and commercial space on the ground floor.

It will follow the Ella, the TRIO and the Reed as the fourth building out of the ground in the music-themed project that pays tribute to Tampa's rich musical and performance history.

The Encore! planned community is a collaborative effort by the Tampa Housing Authority and Banc of America Community Development to build mixed-use developments for mixed-income families, young professionals and seniors in an affordable urban environment. The 29-acre project will eventually include a school, outdoor recreation spaces, urban gardens, trees and sidewalks designed to encourage neighborliness and pride in community.

The Housing Authority also is looking at options for replacing North Boulevard Homes, a public housing complex on North Boulevard just west of downtown. The Authority is expected to seek federal funding through HUD to make it happen.

The investment in rebuilding and replacing the city's public housing complexes with mixed-use housing, retail and commercial is a multiyear commitment that aims to create urban neighborhoods that are more attractive, affordable and safer for moderate income households.

Writer: Diane Egner
Source: LeRoy Moore, Tampa Housing Authority

Invision Tampa Discusses Community Feedback For West River Neighborhoods

The reintroduction of the street grid in the Tampa neighborhoods along the west bank of the Hillsborough River, intense development on Main Street and greater access to the river are among key recommendations emanating from the Invision Tampa process now underway.

A community briefing on July 18, 2013 shared feedback from surveys, research and workshops for the redevelopment of the West River area near downtown Tampa. Stakeholders gathered to hear the Invision Team report back initial ideas and strategies from the input given during the last design workshop in June.

The West River area includes the western bank of the Hillsborough River and its neighborhoods according to the Invision Tampa website. The briefing is a way to continue collaboration between the design team and community stakeholders.

"The process is like a funnel," says Brenda Dohring-Hicks of The Dohring Group who attended both the West River design workshop and the community briefing. "They gather all the ideas and then narrow them down to a concept with effective strategies."

"The event had a lot of people from the neighborhood, which showed how much they care about the future redevelopment," explains Dohring-Hicks. 

The West River area redevelopment "will have a positive impact on the historic neighborhood," says Dohring-Hicks.  “Its proximity to downtown and surrounding areas will make the project even more impactful.” 

Invision Team encourages community members to share feedback on its website and through social media.  You can view the InVision Tampa Plan online or at the AIA Tampa Bay Galleria at 200 North Ashley Suite 100, until August 1, 2013.

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Source: Brenda Dohring-Hicks, The Dohring Group

Crumb & Cork Jazzes Up Franklin Street After Dark

Clusters of ribbon cuttings have brought a bustling feel to downtown Tampa as new businesses open their doors. Downtown sidewalks and restaurants are rich with activity during the work day, but Crumb & Cork, a new wine and cheese bar soon to open, will spark activity from day to night. Owner Joshua Pollick and his partner Joseph Saine are adding authenticity to downtown by jazzing up the atmosphere on Franklin Street.

"We have seen the recent resurgence of life and activity in the downtown area," says Pollick.  "We see a bright future in downtown from our landmark address at 501 North Franklin." 

Pollick chose downtown because it is well-served by public transportation, has friendly Downtown Ambassadors, a business-friendly climate, and an administration that has its listening-ears on for ways to make downtown more livable, walkable and enjoyable. 

"The close proximity of beautiful parks, the Riverwalk and gorgeous new residential buildings have reshaped the way we see our city," explains Pollick.

Crumb & Cork seeks to build a unique experience with over 130 wine selections and live jazz music. The space is designed to be comfortable, a place to relax with friends. Sidewalk lounging will accompany the stylish indoor seating. Patrons will be able to enjoy Sunday brunch, workday lunch, happy hours and evenings out.  A graduate of the University of South Florida, Pollick says he's proud to bring a locally owned USF “Bull Business" to downtown.

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Source: Joshua Pollick, owner, Crumb & Cork

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

Anise Global Gastrobar Grows Roots in Downtown Tampa

Gastrobars are popping up in urban areas across the country. The combination of elevated food selections and upscale bar atmosphere is what Anise Global Gastrobar brings to the restaurant scene in downtown Tampa. Two of the owners say they believe in downtown and that’s why they opened Anise in what they say is Tampa’s cultural epicenter.

Kevin and Suan 'Sing' Hurt have opened one previous successful restaurant in downtown and then tried their hand at a food truck endeavor, Stinky Buns. The flavors from the food truck menu have inspired some of the small plate selections featured at Anise

"The food is familiar, but something you’ve never had," says Kevin Hurt. "You can experience a lot of flavors at once. There is a global aspect to the food with a lean toward Asian tastes."

The Hurts and their partners looked for the right space for Anise for a year before they selected their location at Skypoint on Ashley Drive. 

"We were looking for something with really good bones," says Kevin Hurt. "As soon as we walked in the space, we knew this was it. A lot of talented people leave Tampa, but my wife and I have made a decision to grow roots. We are here in Tampa to stay."

"We wanted elevated bar food, great drinks, and to make the place sexy, describes Kevin Hurt. In choosing a name "we wanted something that spanned between the kitchen and the bar. We use anise in both."

Anise Global Gastrobar has been open since Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. A Mayoral Ribbon Cutting will mark its grand opening on Wednesday, July 24.

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Source: Kven Hurt and Suan Hurt, owners

New Trail Along Courtney Campbell Will Be For Bicycling, Walking

The Courtney Campbell Causeway connecting Tampa and Clearwater is undergoing resurfacing improvements and enhancements, including the addition of new pedestrian and bicycle trails physically separated from the road.

The overall $23 million project along State Road 60 is being built by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), FDOT received $14.6 million in federal funding, which is dedicated for walking and biking infrastructure, to build the nine-mile trail.

A 12-foot-wide, multiuse pedestrian trail on the south side of the Causeway is expected to be completed in October 2013.  The north side of the Causeway will host a five-foot sidewalk, which is scheduled to open in 2014. 

"The idea for the trail was generated by the Courtney Campbell Scenic Highway Corridor Advisory Committee," says Michelle Ogilvie of the Hillsborough Planning Commission.  "The committee worked with the local Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and FDOT toward producing a feasibility study for the trail concept in 2008."

The sea level Courtney Campbell Causeway received the Scenic Highway Corridor Designation in 2005. It provides a picturesque and vital link across the body of water called Old Tampa Bay. 

"It’s our brand, our identity and the trail will provide a safe place to enjoy this link," says Ogilvie. "The trail will strengthen the relationship between the counties, ecotourism will expand, and the trail will help forge a regional identity and economy."

The Courtney Campbell Trail will connect existing trail developments on both sides of the Bay, serving as a resource to the region.

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Source: Michelle Ogilvie. Hillsborough Planning Commission

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

Tampa Heights Riverfront Adds Restaurant, Park

The Tampa Heights neighborhood will soon be home to a much talked about new restaurant, Ulele and the city’s next special events destination, Waterworks Park. The historic Waterworks building and park will work together, integrate with the neighborhood and connect to the Riverwalk. 

The new Ulele Restaurant will emerge from the renovated city Water Works Building. The Gonzmart family, which owns the Columbia Restaurant, is expected to open Ulele in the winter of 2014. The name comes from the bubbling spring that flows into the Hillsborough River in Tampa Heights, and was once Tampa’s first source of drinking water. Ulule Spring is undergoing restoration as part of the Waterworks Park renovation.

The design of the park is "a modern interpretation that is respectful of the historic Waterworks Building and other park structures," explains Angela Hendershot, an architect with Rowe Architects, Inc.  Rowe Architects is part of the Design Build Team for the Waterworks Park renovation with Biltmore Construction

"The series of contemporary park structures have folded roof plains in which the geometry is a takeoff of the historic Waterworks Building roof pitch," describes Principal Rick Rowe of Rowe Architects.

The park will include play space for children, a playground, interactive water features, pavilions, docks, a kayak launch and stage and "will serve as an anchor and terminus of the Riverwalk," says Hendershot.

Special markers will draw attention to Tampa historic features, such as the Scottish Chief, a Civil War era vessel that sank at the southern end of Waterworks Park, and the Clara Frye Garden.  Clara Frye was a nurse who opened the first, free African-American Hospital in Tampa on the site now occupied by Blake High School which will be in view from the garden and Riverwalk. 

"Importantly, both projects will enhace the waterfront and you will be able to access the park and Ulele from the water," says Rowe.

Waterworks Park and Ulele will bring an important sense of history to the city and will share it with the Tampa Heights adding to the neighborhood’s character, revitalization and economic vitality.   

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Sources: Angela Hendershot and Rick Rowe, Rowe Architects

The Birchwood Blends Character Of Past With Future In Downtown St. Pete

Beach Drive in the city of St. Petersburg is host to a variety of activities from outdoor dining and storefront shopping to park-side walks with waterfront views. The Birchwood, formally the Grayl Hotel, is bringing new life to an historic building.  The recent renovation of the 1924 Lantern Lane Apartments into an 18-room boutique hotel adds to the authentic spirit of this evolving district. 

The Birchwood's Spanish Mission-style building, which houses the guest rooms, grand ball room, signature restaurant and rooftop lounge, is on the list of the National Registry of Historic Places. It is a blend of old and new.

"The interior design is an updated interpretation that reflects what was in the past, important to the historic era of the hotel," says Jim Santamour of Urban Studio Architects, the firm responsible for the interior renovation.

Birch and Vine, The Birchwood's signature restaurant, features farm-to-table fine dining that can be enjoyed indoors or seated at a sidewalk table. The design concept was motivated by the farm-to-table experience and, as Santamour says,, "inspired the finishes such as the raspberry color of the walls based on fresh radishes." 

The posh rooftop lounge offers a view of Tampa Bay and the downtown skyline.  "This vista from the roof impacts the atmosphere the most giving a bird's eye view of activity below," says Nicole Sayers also of Urban Studio Architects.     
The revitalization of The Birchwood will further the vitality of Beach Drive, fill the public space with local cuisine and help to maintain the historic character, sparking new energy for the district.  

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Source: Jim Santamour and Nicole Sayers, Urban Studio Architects
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