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Holy Hog Brings Southern-Style Barbecue To Downtown Tampa

Holy Hog Barbecue is dishing up a piece of prime real estate in downtown Tampa. In this case the plate is filled with Southern-style barbecue and comfort foods, with a glass of sweet tea to wash it down.
 
Or if the taste is more toward beers or a glass of wine with your barbecue, owner Danny Hernandez hopes to pour that as well. He is awaiting approval on an alcohol beverage license but the lease agreement on the city-owned site for $3,000 a month has been approved by Tampa City Council.
 
The five-year-lease has options to extend Holy Hog's stay an additional five years. Hernandez is planning an outdoor patio and wants to include craft beers in the restaurant's drink selections.
 
Holy Hog is scheduled to open in the spring at 302 E. Kennedy Blvd., in the former site of Quizno's Subs next to the Tampa Police Headquarters.
 
"It's a logical place for us to be," Hernandez says of his fourth Holy Hog location. "The fact that you've got a captive audience downtown and on top of that residential in downtown is growing exponentially. Downtown is having a renaissance."
 
Hernandez and family go way back in restaurant memory. His father, Ramon Hernandez, Sr., opened Pipo's, "the Original Cuban Cafe," in the late 1970s.
 
The menu at the new Holy Hog will be identical to the brand established at other locations. That means its signature barbecue, shrimp and grits, beef brisket, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and waffles and Cowboy baked beans will be served.
 
Holy Hog opened at 3501 N. Armenia Avenue nearly eight years ago. Since then it has expanded to 4004 Henderson Boulevard and The Tampa Bay Times Forum at 401 Channelside Dr. And, Hernandez says there could be more Holy Hog openings in future.
 
"We're really excited about being (downtown)," Hernandez says. "It's something the city really doesn't have."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Danny Hernandez, Holy Hog

Lowry Park Zoo To Build New Veterinary Hospital

Construction on a new veterinary hospital and animal commissary at Lowry Park Zoo will begin soon following approval of a $6.5 million "pass-through" loan by Tampa City Council.
 
The 12,000-square-foot hospital is designed by Elements Architects for both aesthetics and functionality. An additional 2,000-square-foot animal commissary for food preparation for some 1,000 animals also is planned for the initial construction phase. When complete, there will be four buildings: the hospital, commissary, a quarantine and animal holding center and a 4,000-square-foot conservation center for research and study.
 
The hospital and commissary will be the first to open later this year.
 
"It really is meeting a very specific need that the Zoo has with its expanding collection (of animals)," says Bret Azzarelli, VP of Elements Architects. "The aesthetics need to fit into the surroundings. Some aspects are seen from the zoo. These were made to match the Florida boardwalk area. The remainder of the building is very utilitarian and functional."
 
A fund-raising campaign called "New Horizons" was launched in 2010. Approximately $7 million is already pledged; another $3 million is needed to fully fund the hospital.
 
The city, which owns the Zoo, is using its bonding authority to secure the tax-free loan, which is backed by the pledges from donors. The Zoo is operated as a nonprofit by the Lowry Park Zoological Society.
 
“Over the last 26 years, the Zoo has more than doubled in size, but our animal care facilities have not,” says Dick Stohler, co-chair of the New Horizons Campaign and a director of the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation. “The new animal care complex will provide the medical facilities necessary to meet our expanding needs and support future growth.”
 
The loan from SunTrust Bank will provide interim financing while Zoo officials continue to raise funds.
 
The hospital will be built just off the boardwalk by the Mason M. and Charles P. Lykes Florida Wildlife Center, and next to the existing animal clinic, which is about 27 years old. The new facility will have state-of-the-art medical equipment with areas for surgery, pharmacy, radiology and veterinarian offices.
 
In addition, zoo officials say they plan to use about $2 million for upgrades to the Manatee and Aquatic Center which houses the only nonprofit manatee hospital in the world. Since 1991 the center has treated about 330 wild manatees, or about 6 percent of the state's wildlife count of manatees.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Bret Azzarelli, Elements Architects; Dick Stohler, Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation

Next Urbanism On Tap: 'Where Do You Come From?'

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at New World Brewery in Ybor City on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, starting at 5:30 p.m. This open mic format event is designed to generate constructive conversations about current ideas and trends that are shaping Tampa.

The event entitled "Where Do You Come From?'' is the third in a three-part series that started last fall. It will focus on understanding some critical questions such as: Why does one choose to live in a particular neighborhood? How do you know you are in your neighborhood? How should the neighborhood change and what should stay the same? Seeking answers to some of these key questions will help us understand the issues and challenges in our neighborhoods and the role these building blocks play in our City.

In the event, the organizers intend to engage attendees with innovative tools like preparing ''mind maps.'' Mind Maps are people's perception about their neighborhoods and the places they visit on a regular basis. It may be a rough hand drawn map or an image, or text, which conveys how one associates and perceives his or her neighborhood.

The organizers encourage people to share their photos and things they like about their neighborhood by visiting Urbanism on Tap's online Facebook page. People can also use apps available on smart phones to make mind maps and post it online.

Overall, the intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will enhance the ability to make Tampa a more livable city.

Urbanism on Tap is an event focused on generating a dialogue within the community led by the Urban Charette and CNU Tampa Bay. Moderators and attendees can share their stories related to the topic of the day. Every event is open to the public, and all are invited to attend and share their views.

Following the event, everyone is encouraged to continue the conversation online through the Urbanism on Tap's Facebook page or website.

Venue: New World Brewery, Ybor City (1313 8th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605)
Date and Time: Tuesday, January 14, from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
For more information, email Ashly Anderson

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry and Ashly Anderson, CNU Tampa Bay

City Of Tarpon Springs Seeks Bids To Improve Sponge Docks

The City of Tarpon Springs is moving ahead with plans to seek bids to refurbish the historical sponge docks in this Greek-style seaside village along the Anclote River.
 
Bids are expected to be reviewed before the end of March. If the city's Board of Commissioners agree on the scope and cost of the project, construction likely will begin by summer. About $1.3 million is projected for  a budget that will pay for a small oval-shaped amphitheater, a floating dock for visitors including kayakers, an 8-foot wide wooden riverwalk, benches along the seawall, Florida native landscaping, wooden directional and historical markers and brick elements along Dodocanese Boulevard and around the docks.
 
Wood and brick are historically accurate features for the sponge docks, according to Ed Hoffman, Jr., president of Tarpon Springs-based Hoffman Architects. "We're putting the docks back in the sponge docks," Hoffman says. "Right now, it's just a concrete wharf, a concrete platform."
 
The goal is to make the sponge docks more pedestrian-friendly and create a shaded, landscaped area where people want to gather for Greek dances, special events or just sit and enjoy the docks, Hoffman says.
 
Hoffman gave commissioners and the public an update on the project at a December city commission meeting. The project has been under design for about two years with public input gathered during several workshops.
 
Funds for the project are from the Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenues. Changes are slated for publicly owned land; no private property is involved. Construction bids will be a guide on how much of the project is affordable.
 
"What we want to do is try to enhance what we have there," says Tarpon Springs Mayor David Archie.
 
Still, some residents and business owners are skeptical and worry that the authenticity and quaintness of the docks will be lost. "It's too modern for what we have down there," says former Tarpon Springs Mayor Anita Protos.
 
The project is unanimously supported by city commissioners.
 
"I can't wait to see the finished product," says Tarpon Springs Vice-Mayor Susan Slattery. She anticipates the amphitheater, in particular,  as a field trip destination for young children who will learn about the city's history and the legacy of the Greek sponge divers who came to Tarpon Springs in the 1890s. "I think that's a great opportunity for children," Slattery says.
 
Commissioner Townsend Tarapani says the project "looks toward the future. Without a doubt, at the end of the day, this is something everyone is going to be proud of."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Susan Slattery, Anita Protos, David Archie, City of Tarpon Springs
 

Alternative Art Gallery Moves Into New Space In Seminole Heights

Tempus Projects art gallery didn't move very far from where it started more than three years ago, but the new address is opening up a world of artistic opportunities.
 
At 7 p.m. on Dec. 21 Tempus Projects will host an open house at its new digs at 4636 N. Florida Ave. That's only a few blocks from its former address, also on Florida.
 
"The old space was just about 800 square feet. It was a converted garage behind a commercial building. We didn't have air conditioning or a bathroom," says Founder and Creative Director Tracy Midulla Reller. "As far as alternative space goes, it was very alternative."
 
Now Tempus Projects has it all: a visible storefront, more space with high ceilings, air conditioning and bathrooms that meet federal handicap accessibility standards. And, there is more wall space and room space for exhibits as well as musical and performance art shows. 
 
For now though Reller says, "The space will be very raw. (The open house) is just a sneak preview to see the bare bones of the space layout, and to have a holiday party."
 
Reller is an art professor at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa's historic Ybor City. Tempus Projects is part of a burgeoning artists' colony in Seminole Heights. Artists Taylor Pilote, Theo Wujcik and Roger Chamieh are among those who show their works at Tempus Projects.
 
Tempus' board of directors began looking for a new location to rent in June when it was clear a larger venue was needed.
"It's because we needed to be able to house large projects," Reller says. 
 
Reller started Tempus Projects in 2009 with a handful of artists. It was a collaborative endeavor to foster artistic works from all mediums including painting, sculpture, multi-media and performance art. For the second year Tempus Projects will work with the Gasparilla Arts Festival in presenting a multi-media exhibit.
 
The nonprofit is supported by community grants, donations and fund-raising events.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Tracy Midulla Reller, Tempus Projects

South Tampa Boutique Hotel Opens To Guests

The long-awaited opening of the food-themed Epicurean Hotel on South Howard Avenue officially is two days after Christmas. But General Manager Tom Haines anticipates a "soft" opening with at least some rooms occupied by guests a few days sooner.
 
And gift cards are available for hotel stays, dining at the Élevage restaurant, hand-crafted cocktails at the roof-top bar EDGE, sweets at Chocolate Pi patisserie or culinary classes at the Epicurean Theatre.
 
"The response has been overwhelming," says Haines. "It seems to resonate with people."
 
The 137-room boutique hotel is in the Hyde Park historic district, across from landmark Bern's Steak House, founded more than 50 years ago by Gert and the late Bern Laxer. Their son, David Laxer, and Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging and Development of Tampa are partners in the hotel project. Marriott Hotel International, Inc., will add the Epicurean to its Autograph Collection, a select group of hotels that are operated without the Marriott name but offers guests the perks that come with the Marriott brand.
 
Among unique features at the hotel are bicycles for touring Hyde Park and Bayshore Boulevard and evening wine samplings.

The hotel also will have Chocolate Pi, a French-style patisserie, Bern's Fine Wines & Spirits, and 5,200 square-foot flexible event room suitable for weddings, honeymoons, bar and bat mitzvahs.

In February a full-service luxury spa, Evangeline, will open.
 
The hotel is taking an innovative path and tapping into the trendy "foodie" movement with culinary classes for beginners and experienced cooks. World-known chefs and sommeliers will visit the state-of-the-art Epicurean Theatre for cooking demonstrations, wine exhibitions and special events.

And the hotel will participate in the annual Bern's WineFest.

"There are so many foodies out there," Haines says. "They are hungry and thirsty for more knowledge. The theater cements that for people."

The first culinary classes will begin Jan. 20 with Mastering Wine Aromas. Other early topics are History of the Cocktail and tea blending. Haines says classes will be held "about every day of the week."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Tom Haines, Epicurean Hotel

Popular Davis Islands Dog Beach Reopens

After experiencing a 6-month closure to undergo a major renovation, the Davis Islands Dog Beach is now open to local four-legged friends and dog-lovers to enjoy.

The City of Tampa Parks and Recreation began work on the $273,082 project on Monday, June 10th. The beach restoration project included building an offshore break water, installing artificial reef modules and adding improved seating, fencing and new sand, which will prevent future shore erosion.

"Waves from passing ships eroded the beach and shoreline, exposing rubble and making it unsafe for dogs and their owners,'' says Linda Carlo, the City's superintendent at the Office of Special Events.

Additionally, the City repaired and re-paved the boat ramp and added new Florida-friendly landscaping to the area.

"The Davis Islands dog beach is beloved by the local community. Residents and their four-legged friends come from all over the city to use this park, and now after these improvements, it will be safe and pet-friendly once again,'' says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Two local Davis Islands business owners, Carolyn Bigley of Davis Islands Pet Care and Jenn Fadal of Wag Natural Pet Market and Bathhouse, teamed up to create the nonprofit Friends of Davis Islands Dog Parks -- an on-going, long-term community effort in partnership with Friends of Tampa Recreation, Inc.

Friends currently assists the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department in maintaining both the Davis Islands Dog Beach and Dog Park, and fully supported the city's decision to improve the beach despite the six-month closure.

"This is an opportunity for a fresh start and to keep it maintained and looking beautiful,'' the group said in a statement. "We're excited about the long-term benefits to our dog beach.''

Funds for the project will come from Community Investment Tax (CIT). The Davis Islands dog beach is located at 1002 Severn St. on Davis Islands and is open daily until sunset.

"Parks immeasurably improve the quality of life for our residents, and I know many, many people will be happy to have this one improved,'' Buckhorn says.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Bob Buckhorn and Linda Carlo, City of Tampa

USF Health Begins Construction Of New Heart Institute

The University of South Florida made a major investment in cardiovascular research with the groundbreaking today (Dec. 17, 2013) of the USF Health Heart Institute.
 
The $50 million, five-story, 100,000-square-foot facility will be the center of the university's medical research into risk factors and new treatments for heart disease and related diseases of stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. The research is expected to boost local investment in high-wage jobs, business partnerships, patents and technologies that could lead to spin-off businesses in and around Tampa and Hillsborough County.

“USF is working tirelessly to make heart disease less of a threat to the health and well-being of our community. Today, we take a huge step forward in our efforts as we begin work on building our new USF Health Heart Institute,” says USF President Judy Genshaft. “We’re creating the scientific infrastructure that will make Florida a world leader in combatting devastating diseases.”
 
The Heart Institute will create a synergy for "bench to bedside to bench" discoveries that aid health care patients, says Stephen Liggett, Vice Dean for Research at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Liggett is co-acting director for the Institute along with Arthur Labovitz, chairman of Morsani College's Department of Cardiovascular Sciences.
 
Liggett describes the bench as the research that is translated into patient treatments at the bedside. In turn those treatments can reveal new avenues for additional productive research. The institute will focus on advanged diagnotics, clinical trials for new medicines, genetic and stem cell therapies and DNA tailored treatments based on a patient's genetic makeup.

USF Health recently began its first genomic trial in partnership with the American College of Cardiology by linking DNA analysis from blood samples to the cardiology college's heart disease database of millions of patients.

“The sharing of basic and clinical research data in both directions can lead to better outcomes,” he says.
 
Increased investment in research is intended to get to the root causes of heart disease. "Right now the pipeline for new drugs and new diagnostics is pretty dry," he says.
 
Heart disease among men and women is the leading cause of death and annually costs the United States more than $312 billion in health care costs, medicines and lost worker productivity, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Florida heart disease is second behind cancer as a cause of death.
 
The project is supported with nearly $22 million from the state and Hillsborough County. Another $30 million will be needed to complete construction. An opening date will be determined by how soon those funds are secured.
 
USF expects to invest as much as $25 million in faculty recruitment and resources for genomics-based medicine.
As the county's population ages, this type of research will become more important for the community, says Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe. "It's an excellent investment," he says.
 
Among USF's partners at the Health Heart Institute are Florida Hospital and its Pepin Heart Institute, Florida Cardiovascular Institute and Tampa General Hospital.
 
The construction contractor is Whiting-Turner and the architect is HOK.
 
The Heart Institute will be in the center of the USF Health complex located at the northwest corner of Holly and Magnolia drives. Nearby are the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, Moffit Cancer Center and Morsani College of Medicine. There will be an auditorium, offices, laboratories and a clinical care center.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Stephen Liggett, USF Health; Mark Sharpe, Hillsborough County

Tampa Solicits Bids For Hotel, Apartments In Ybor City

Infill parcels that have been vacant for nearly 30 years are being marketed to developers to build a hotel and a multifamily apartments in Ybor City.
 
Tampa City officials are seeking proposals for the hotel at 1212 Seventh Ave, and the apartments on East 12th Avenue between 16th and 17th streets, next to Interstate 4. Bids will be opened on Jan. 3.
 
"We hope it will be successful and spark new development," says Vince Pardo, president of the Ybor City Development Corporation, the city agency that oversees Ybor City's redevelopment areas. "It goes right into our vision plan for hotels for out of town visitors and more apartments for people to live here."
 
Proceeds from the land sales will be shared by the city and Hillsborough Community College based on a 1983 agreement when the college's board of trustees agreed to transfer the lots to the city through quit claim deeds. The agreement has been amended  twice, most recently in 1998.
 
Urban renewal and state highway widening projects sliced through portions of Ybor City leaving in its wake certain vacant parcels that then became the property of the city or the college. And in the case of the parcels now up for sale, there is joint ownership.

County  records show the market value of the hotel-designated property is about $173,000; the other parcel's market value is about $362,000. 

Money made on the sale must be re-invested within Ybor City's redevelopment area, says Pardo. But those revenues aren't as important as the longer-term economic and jobs benefits to Ybor from the proposed projects themselves, he says.

An unsolicited proposal from a Miami development group interested in building a hotel is what prompted the city's decision to seek bids on both properties. "The economy is getting better. People are eyeing property," says Pardo. "Why don't we go ahead with an RFP (request for proposal) on the second block?"

The hotel is proposed for a corner at Seventh Avenue and Nuccio Parkway that is at a gateway into Ybor City. A building at 1205 E. Eighth Ave also is up for sale by owner, the nonprofit Volunteers of America of Florida, and is potentially usable with the city's property. Volunteers of America paid $1.2 million for its property in 2004, according to county records.

Sociedad La Union Marti Maceo de Tampa uses the city-owned lot for parking. Pardo said the hotel is going to have to accommodate access into and out of the social club and nearby Chancey Design Partnership.

Other hotels in Ybor City are Hampton Inn and Don Vicente de Ybor Historic Inn.

The board of the YCDC is in support of the hotel and apartment projects. Once the bids are open, they will be reviewed and a recommendation submitted to the city administration and Tampa City Council.
 
"As Tampa leads Florida out of the recession, it's the right time to bring new residential and commercial opportunities to Ybor," says Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "I will do anything I can if it stimulates development and is good for the surrounding neighborhood, and we believe these projects will do just that. As we continue to foster 24 hour a day, 7 day a week environment in historic Ybor City, both projects will activate spaces that are currently vacant."
 
Recent proposal requests already are sparking redevelopment projects in Tampa Heights and downtown Tampa. The Water Works building in Tampa is being leased by Columbia Restaurant Group. Construction is under way and an opening for Ulele Restaurant and Bar is expected in 2014.
 
Hotel Partners LLC expects to open Le Meridien Hotel in the renovated Federal Courthouse building on Florida Avenue in late spring 2014. And a high-rise apartment tower and shops along the city's Riverwalk project, at Tyler and Cass streets, is being developed by Intown/Framework Group.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Vince Pardo and Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa

Ex-Lawyer Follows Dream To Open Micro-Brewery

Small wooden kegs of beer sit inside the vast warehouse waiting to be tapped. They are filled with sample recipes for brews that owners of Coppertail Brewing Co. expect soon to be selling to local bars, restaurants and grocery stores.
 
In Kent Bailey's office, cardboard boxes are filled with coasters and T-shirts emblazoned with the message "Resist the Industrial Brewing Complex." It's a fitting challenge from a man who gave up a comfortable business law practice to follow a dream.

"I wasn't loving what I was doing anymore," says Bailey. His passion was for home-brewed beer crafted in his spare time in his Davis Islands' kitchen.

But he began to think, "How can I make this a career?"

He put together a business plan and a team to help make it work. In November he said goodbye to his law career. By March Bailey, 38, expects to open the brewing operations at Coppertail in a 34,000-square-foot warehouse at 2601 E. Second Ave., fronting Adamo Drive and sitting catty-cornered from Ikea. In past lives, the building has been home to Hellman's mayonaise, an olive oil company and a refrigeration repair shop. One month later he hopes to have a temporary tasting room open so he can offer tours. Longer range goals are to open a permanent tasting room and gift shop by summer or fall 2014. Outdoor space of about 32,000 square feet will be used for special events including beer festivals.

Right-of-way owned by the city of Tampa along Adamo Drive is slated for development as a greenway. That part of Coppertail's overall project needs additional city council approvals.

For now, offices and a front lobby are remodeled, with help from Schiller's Architectural Design and Salvage .The warehouse, building exterior and parking lot are works-in-progress. Hafner Ferlita Architects are the building's designers.
Residents in the East Ybor area are supportive. Initially there were worries that the establishment would be another bar.

"The fact that is not a 'bar-bar' is awesome," says Fran Costantino, president of the East Ybor Historic and Civic Association. "It's not going to bring in riff-raff."

Instead it will be an upscale business in an area that needs that type of new development, Costantino says.

Things are moving quickly. Approvals from Tampa City Council and the federal agency regulating brewery permits are in place. Brewing equipment from German-based Rolec is due to arrive in January.

Bailey is delighted that Rolec won the bidding contract for Coppertail's equipment. "Rolec really wants to be brewing in Florida," he says. "They don't have one here."

The award-winning company does have its equipment at several businesse in the United States including Brooklyn Brewing Company in New York and Lagunitas Brewing Company in California.

Bailey pitched his brewery idea to friend and home-brewer aficionado Robb Larson at WaZoo, a beer event at Lowry Park Zoo last year. Larson, who is a personal trainer, now is in charge of beer development and social media. The brewery's Facebook page is followed by about 1,100 people. They've also created a blog.

Coppertail's award-winning brewmaster is Casey Hughes, president of Master Brewers Association of America. Hughes moved from upstate New York at age 18 to Tampa. He worked with Key West brewing on the bottling line but worked up to a brewing job before he legally was able to drink alcohol. For many years he was head brewer at Flying Fish brewery in New Jersey before jumping at the chance to move back to Tampa and join the Coppertail brewing gang.

As a startup Coppertail's aim is to settle in with Tampa's growing micro-brewery movement. But Bailey says, "We've tried to give ourselves room here for the capacity to grow regional in 10 years or so. That's all a pipe dream now."

There is a camaraderie among local brewers much different from the corporate dog-eat-dog world of business law. "We've made a point of gettng out there and meeting as many brewers as we can," Bailey says. "Everyone has been kind and gracious."

Bailey sees craft beers as a growing trend that is benefitting from people's desires to grow and buy local food products.
 
"People are fed up with beer as an industrial product," he says. "They want it to be local, naturally flavorful again, and like it used to be. People are very focused on local and natural. Craft beer plays into that very well.''

As for the Coppertail name, Coppertail is a fantastical sea creature that lives in Tampa Bay where he protects swimmers and battles pollution.

Bailey's now 6-year-old daughter Sofia is the one who came up with the name after a talk with Bailey about the earliest explorers of Tampa and the kinds of creatures they might have seen." A lot of them reported seeing sea monsters which I thought was hilarious," says Bailey. "Coppertail is something impossible, about imagination and a lot about Tampa Bay."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Kent Bailey, Coppertail

Historic Figures Take Their Places Along Tampa Riverwalk

For the second year, six bronze busts of people who made a difference in Tampa's history have been added to the Tampa Riverwalk by Mayor Bob Buckhorn and members of the nonprofit Friends of the Riverwalk.

The latest honorees are Newspaper Publisher C. Blythe Andrews, Attorney Cody Fowler, Civic Leader Kate Jackson, Attorney Peter O. Knight, Cuban Civil Rights Leader Paulina Pedroso and Businessman G. D. Rogers. Their likenesses will be added to the six already installed last year on the city's Historical Monument Trail at the Riverwalk. Eventually city officials anticipate more than 30 people will be recognized for their historical contributions.

"The whole concept is to make a trail to honor as many of the people as possible who made Tampa what it is today," says Attorney Steven Anderson, president of the Friends of the Riverwalk. "It's just a great program. People love the monuments."

A 9-member committee makes selections each year looking back over 150 years of Tampa's history. It costs about $120,000 annually to finish and install the busts, Anderson says.

Most of the funds are privately donated. Hillsborough County provided a matching grant based on the project's historical preservation mission.

Last year's honorees were the Mound Builder Indians, who were the first settlers 10,000 years ago; cigar magnate Vicente Martinez-Ybor; shipping tycoon James McKay; nurse Clara Frye; railroad trailblazer Henry B. Plant; and suffragist Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain. Anderson said the committee has begun selecting next year's six honorees.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Steven Anderson, Friends of the Riverwalk

Construction Begins On New Transit Center In Pinellas Park

Bus riders will have an easier time of figuring out schedules and making connections when the new Pinellas Park Transit
Center opens in the summer of 2014.

CHTR Development, LLC, is in charge of construction after winning the contract with a low bid of $359,000. The new facility will replace the current transit center at 70th Avenue North behind the Shoppes at Park Place.

It will be manned with transit employees who can sell tickets and provide information at a customer service window. There also will be restrooms and water fountains for the hundreds of riders who get on and off the buses. It will be the first time central Pinellas has had such a fully equipped center, says Bob Lasher, spokesman for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

The new transit center is an effort to modernize bus service and increase ridership.

In November 2014 voters will have a chance to vote on a referendum for a 1 percent sales tax to pay for a 30-year plan to improve transit service and potentially have light rail service connecting St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Bob Lasher, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

New Grille To Open In MetWest In Tampa, Offer Rooftop Dining

Del Frisco's Grille is opening its first Florida West Coast location at Tampa's MetWest International on Boy Scout Boulevard in 2014.

Offering an innovative twist on American comfort classics, Del Frisco's Grille, an award-winning Texas-based restaurant, has signed a lease for a 9,700-square-foot space at MetLife's mixed-use development in Westshore.

The new restaurant is expected to seat 450 guests, including 160 on a rooftop deck with a retractable roof -- the first of its kind in the Westshore Business District.

"We are thrilled to bring Del Frisco's Grille and our warm, genuine hospitality to MetWest International Tampa,'' says Mark S. Mednansky, CEO of Del Frisco's Restaurant. "Whether you're headed to a Tampa Bay Bucs game or checking out the Yankees during Spring Training, our roof deck will be the perfect place to enjoy Ahi Tacos and a cold local beer or prime steak and an amazing glass of wine.''

Del Frisco's Grille is the newest restaurant concept of the Del Frisco Resaturant Group, drawing inspiration from bold flavors and market-fresh ingredients. Everything about the concept -- from the interior design and seating to the easy-to-share food and handcrafted drinks -- is built for creating a unique local experience.

The menu is slated to feature dishes like hand-crafted flatbreads, Cheesesteak Egg Rolls and Ahi Tacos, rounding out with a selection of prime steaks, hearty salads and sandwiches, and chef-inspired entrees.

The Grille's weekend brunch menu will include Red Velvet Belgian Waffle and Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs with Chorizo Gravy.

The Grille's wine list will feature more than 350 wines carefully selected by David O'Day, Del Frisco's Director of Wine.

"MetLife is proud to welcome a fourth new restaurant to Tampa Bay at MetWest International, which has become a dining destination for Tampa residents, as well as the tenants of the development's 750,000 square feet of office space,'' says Chuck Davis, regional director of MetLife's Tampa real estate investment office. "Del Frisco's Grille, with its unique rooftop bar, nicely rounds out the dining options at MetWest, joining Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, Texas de Brazil and Kona Grill.''

The Del Frisco's Grille deal was brokered by Kalyn Brandewie of Florida Retail Partners representing MetLife and co-broker Ted Speros of ATS Realty representing Del Frisco's Grille. This will be Del Frisco's Grille 11th location in the country and the first in the Tampa area.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Mark S. Mednansky, Del Frisco's Restaurant; Chuck Davis, MetLife

Clothing Store, Cosmetic Surgery Center Find New Homes On Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa

Designer consignment boutique, Mosh Posh, and Premiere Center for Cosmetic Surgery, are taking advantage of more space and greater visibility at new storefronts on Kennedy Boulevard.

Both are relocating from South Tampa addresses to the corner spot at Kennedy and Armenia Avenue where for more than 17 years Second Image Thrift Store sold its second-hand goods, furniture and clothes. Second Image Manager Pam McCoy said the shop, at 2419 W. Kennedy Blvd., moved to Pinellas Park in August..

"Kennedy was an up and coming place," McCoy said, and it was inevitable that newer shops would take hold.

Mosh Posh opened at its new location Friday. The local, family-owned business got its start on South Howard Avenue about four years ago. The designer consignment shop sells pre-owned luxury clothes for women and children from high-end stores and designers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Michael Kors, Louis Vitton, Chanel and Neiman Marcus.

The boutique's shelves also are filled with shoes, handbags, sun glasses, jewelry and other accessories.

On Monday afternoon about a half-dozen shoppers browsed the racks. Merchandise also can be bought on the company website.

Premiere Center's cosmetic surgery office, in a suite next to Mosh Posh, is being remodeled. Plans are to open by early January. The current location at 300 S. Hyde Park Ave. will close.

"We needed a bigger facility," says Marketing Director Stephanie Montanez. "And it's right on Kennedy."

The new offices will have more space for consultation and skin care rooms. It will have a staff of about 20 employees. Board certified physicians perform a range of services including plastic surgery, breast augmentation, liposuction and BOTOX.
In addition to the Tampa location, Premiere Center also has offices in the Miami area.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Pam McCoy, Second Image Thrift Store; Stephanie Montanez, Premier Center for Cosmetic Surgery

Madison Street Park Next For Channel District In Downtown Tampa

For years, Tampa City officials have envisioned a booming Channel District: one with luxury apartments, multiple shopping opportunities and even open-air parks to keep the community active. And with the City acquiring nearly nine-tenths of an acre in the northern end of the District, that vision is closer to becoming a reality. 
 
In addition to Washington Street Park at the corner of 12th Street and Pierhouse Apartments’ nautical-themed art park at what used to be 11th Street, two new pieces of land — one being purchased by the City for $1.56 million and one which will be given as a donation -- total 43,000 square feet and are expected to become Madison Street Park.
 
The donated portion of land is coming from a company controlled by developer Ken Stoltenberg of Mercury Advisors, who has city approval to build the 24-story Martin at Meridian tower next door. For now, Stoltenberg has a proposal for the now-vacant land between Twiggs and Madison streets.
 
“My vision is for an active sports park that can be highly programmed to meet the needs of the growing number of young urban professionals,” he says. “Right now, if you want to play basketball, sand volleyball or take a boot camp or CrossFit class outdoors, you need to leave downtown — and that’s a shame.”
 
Stoltenberg envisions the almost one-acre space to be divided into a basketball court, dodge ball area, two sand volleyball courts, two boot camp areas and a dog park. He says he, as well as other developers and City officials, have been told time and time again that a park is an amenity people look for when considering living in an urban environment.
 
“Residents will have access to all of the aforementioned activities and won’t have to drive anywhere,” he says. “Additionally, the restaurants in the neighborhood will benefit from increased business, thanks to evening and weekend park visitors.”
 
Soon, Stoltenberg and his team will break ground on The Martin, a mixed-use development expected to add a little more than 300 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space to the area; BDG Architects/Urban Studio Architects and Hardin Construction will work with Stoltenberg on the project. 
 
The Martin at Meridian will join The Place at Channelside, The Slade, Bell Channelside and the currently under-construction 356-unit, $550 million Pierhouse At Channelside apartments.
 
Source: Ken Stoltenberg, Mercury Advisors
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