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 Rogers Park Golf Course and the Hillborough River from above. - Julie Branaman
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Development News

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Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay Upgrades Homes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plans to update homes in Hillsborough County are also underway.

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

Port Of Tampa's Gateway Rail Terminal Wins Prize

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

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

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

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

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

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

AECOM Leases Space At MetWest International, Tampa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Tampa Independent Bookstore Attracts New Owner

As of Monday, April 1st, South Tampa's Inkwood Books has changed hands.

Opened 21 years ago, the locally owned bookstore has been satisfying the needs of Tampa Bay area book lovers long before the arrival of chain stores, online competitors and the e-book craze -- and now founders Carla Jimenez and Leslie Reiner are saying goodbye, welcoming long-time customer Stefani Beddingfield.

Situated inside of a small renovated bungalow at 216 S. Armenia Ave., Inkwood Books will keep the same name and location, continuing business as Tampa's only locally owned independent bookstore exclusively selling new books. Beddingfield says she will continue many of Inkwood's regular services and events, but has plans to spice things up with some new to-be-announced ideas.

“I am grateful to Leslie and Carla for this next chapter in my life and look forward to promoting Inkwood's passion for books, reading and community,” says Beddingfield, who has already made her local mark by starting the Freedom Playground Foundation.

In 2012, Jimenez and Reiner began quietly looking for the right person to sell the store to and were delighted to find an enthusiastic, long-time customer like Beddingfield to continue Inkwood's success; in addition to being an avid Inkwood's customer and event attendee, Beddingfield attended American Bookseller's Association Prospective Booksellers School.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to pass forward a vibrant, healthy bookstore to Stefani,” Jimenez says. “We are confident the new Inkwood will take care of our devoted patrons, as well as the new customers attracted by the fresh,  admittedly younger steward.”

Reiner plans to remain engaged in the local literary scene and will continue working part-time at Inkwood, along with booksellers Amanda, Lindsay and Christian.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Stefani Beddingfield, Inkwood Books; Carla Jimenez & Leslie Reiner

Tampa's "Bright Lights" Initiatve Shines On Sulphur Springs

Fulfilling Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's promise to complete a citywide lighting inventory, the first street lights as part of the “Bright Lights, Safe Nights” initiative have been installed.

Buckhorn, joined by Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas, cut the ribbon to streetlights installed in Sulphur Springs -- the first neighborhood to receive new lights. In total, 127 new lights have been installed in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood thus far.

“A well-lit city is a safer city,” says Buckhorn. “We’re illuminating streets across this city that are dangerous for motorists and pedestrians and the dark corners where criminals can hide.”

Dedicating $2.2 million over the next five years to this initiative, the City of Tampa will work with TECO to add approximately 8,400 new street lights to the city's overall grid, ultimately expanding the current street light network by 30 percent.

Plans call for the lights to be placed throughout Tampa, focusing on Community Redevelopment Areas and zones with high crime or crash rates.

“We've been lighting Tampa for 114 years and we look forward to doing our part to meet the mayor's goal,” Gillette says.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, early-morning and nighttime crashes can be reduced by about 35 percent with additional streetlights while two research projects by the Institute of Criminology at the United Kingdom's  University of Cambridge in 2005 found that documented crimes decreased up to 45 percent with the financial savings from reduced crimes exceeding the cost of lighting by up to 10 times.

Sulhpur Springs -- also the target for revitalization through the City's Nehemiah Project, which will demolish more than 50 abandoned, uninhabitable homes in the area -- is only the first neighborhood of many that will benefit from the “Bright Lights, Safe Nights” initiative.

The Jackson Heights neighborhood is slated as next to receive new street lights.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa & Gordon Gillette, Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas

Making Hillsborough Avenue Walkable, Bikeable In Tampa

Think Hillsborough Avenue could use some road improvements? The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) wants your input.

During a recent Crash Severity Reduction Study, the Hillsborough MPO analyzed county corridors, roadways and intersections with high crash rates, ultimately identifying a few areas that needed to be further studied, including Dale Mabry Highway and Waters Avenue, Waters Avenue and Hanley Road, nearly all of Fowler Avenue and East Hillsborough Avenue from I-275 to 50th Street.

"We did this overall crash analysis of the county and found that East Hillsborough Avenue could definitely use some help,'' says Gena Torres, project manager for the Hillsborough MPO. "There are some things we can do for cars, cyclists and people walking -- things that have been done across the country that need to be brought to Florida.''

Titled the East Hillsborough Avenue Corridor Project, the project will ultimately make traffic better and reduce crashes, says Torres. For example, after a lane was taken away to add bike lanes and bus pullovers on Nebraska Avenue, traffic slowed and crash rates dropped by up to 70 percent.

"Both traffic and crashes are a real problem here, in both the county and the state -- it's just not a good situation,'' Torres says. "We're trying to come up with inexpensive ways to ease traffic.''

According to Torres, this particular section of the road has been studied by many different agencies for different reasons: HART is looking to put in one of their new MetroRapid systems, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recently installed new medians and the East Tampa Redevelopment is looking to do some work to make the lower-income, high-minority East Tampa community a more vibrant place to live, work and play.

"Whether residents walk, bicycle or are dependent on transit, someone in the community does these things and we need to be concerned about making Hillsborough Avenue a better road for everyone to use,'' Torres says. "Residents should be concerned.''

What will make East Hillsborough Avenue safer, walkable and bikeable? Lighting? Diverting traffic? Making space for on-street parking, buses and trees? Your thoughts will help determine the outcome of what the MPO presents to the FDOT for implementation. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 30th, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ragan Park Community Center at 1200 E. Lake Ave.

"We really need to determine the goals and objectives of the community and I think people have some really good thoughts that we won't be able to think of.''

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Gena Torres, Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Condos, Townhomes On Snell Isle, St. Pete

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

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

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

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

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

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

Completion of the project is slated for June 2014.

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

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

CoCreativ Opens New Coworking Space In St. Pete

A drop-in workspace for freelancers, entrepreneurs and on-the-go professionals in the Tampa Bay region, CoCreativ will open on Second Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg.

CoCreativ President and CEO Joseph Warren says he plans to redefine the modern workspace, promoting coworking in St. Pete with a cheap, alternative to typical makeshift offices and meeting spaces like Starbucks and Panera.

“Working on the go just got a whole lot easier,” Warren says. “People use makeshift office and meeting spaces because they have no place else to go. CoCreativ provides them with a flexible and professional workspace they can drop into as needed.”

Promoting an energetic and supportive community, CoCreativ's 5,500-square-foot pilot space is on the 12th floor of the Wells Fargo Plaza at 150 2nd Avenue North in downtown St. Pete. The space will feature a lounge area, private meeting room and conference room, as well as several rooms and cubbyholes for “heads down” work. CoCreativ's new space will also include a large multipurpose room for classroom training.

No long-term contracts and unlimited monthly acccess are among some of CoCreativ's features. Members simply drop in, plug in and begin working.

“Coworking spaces already exist in Tampa at places like Oxford Exchange, CoWork Tampa and FirstWaVE Venture Center, but up until now, St. Pete did not have a coworking space to call its own,” Warren says. “With all of the amenities that today's mobile professionals desire, such as great restaurants, cafes, nightlife and cultural variety, downtown St. Pete is the perfect place to launch our concept.”

CoCreativ will officially open the doors to a temporary location at the Wells Fargo Plaza on March 18th with plans to move to a larger, ground floor space in the near future; a pre-launch party and open house will be held on March 15th from 5:00 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Coworking is being driven by a growing and more cohesive tech ecosystem that is quickly gaining national attention as a great place for start ups to launch,” Warren says. “We think we have a pretty solid understanding of our customers' needs and desires. Heck, we're part of our own target market for CoCreativ -- we designed this space for us too!”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Joseph Warren, CoCreativ

Restoration To Give New Life To Historic Hacienda Hotel, New Port Richey

Thanks to community input and involvement, New Port Richey's historic Hacidena Hotel may get a new lease on life.

Built in 1927 and originally known as a “Bit of Old Spain Amid the Palms,” the 55-room Hacidena Hotel, at 5621 Main St. in New Port Richey, was used as a hotel visited by silent film stars for years before becoming an assisted living facility.

The old hotel has been vacant since 2006, but recent projects are putting community volunteers and donations to work on restoring the historic New Port Richey structure.

"This property is a key to the revitalization of downtown,'' says City of New Port Richey Interim Manager Susan Dillinger.

More than 400 volunteers recently gathered for two community clean up days at the hotel, where residents, city staff and city council members pitched in to beautify the grounds inside and out by painting, repairing and replacing windows, removing broken glass and installing irrigation lines.

Now, funds must be gathered and more work must be done to assess the structural and environmental issues in need of correction to restore the hotel before renovation work begins. Dillinger says the next step would be to have the interior evaluated -- the plumbing, air conditioning, elevator, electrical system and the structure itself.

"Once we evaluate the interior, we can then begin the rehab so we can lease out space,'' she says.

The project is seeking approximately $37,800 through Citizinvestor, an online crowdfunding service for civic projects, to complete the evaluations and renovation work. Contributions can be made by following this link.

Additionally, the building must undergo a termite inspection and treatment, asbestos survey, air quality test, mold inspection and lead-based paint survey. Special attention will be made during evaluations and repairs to meet requirements of its  National Register of Historic Places designation, which the building received in October 1996.

"This project has great community support as evidenced by the members who came out to clean up days,'' Dillinger says. "But we still need support via funds for planning, evaluation and the actual rehab process itself.''

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Susan Dillinger, City of New Port Richey

Former Bern's Chefs Open Italian Restaurant In Channel District, Tampa

A new Italian restaurant will soon make its way to Grand Central at Kennedy in the Channel District.

Located at 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd. across from Pour House, the 1,900-square-foot Cena Restaurant will provide Channel District residents and visitors a modern, fresh and simple Italian dining experience. Italian for the word "dinner,'' Cena plans to provide dining from the roots with real ingredients, traditional dishes and attentive service.

Former Sidebern's chef de cuisine Michael Buttacavoli will act as executive chef at the new restaurant, whipping up dishes like spaghetti and veal, pork or beef meatballs; duck confit; shrimp scampi; pan seared steak; braised oxtail gnocchi; and lobster risotto, to name a few.

"The food is to die for,'' says Grand Central at Kennedy developer Ken Stoltenberg of Susan Bianchi and Romeo Patron's new concept.

Stoltenberg approached dining aficionados Bianchi and Patron of South Tampa's Bianchi's Enoteca-- who met while working at Bern's Fine Wine & Spirits-- in hopes of developing an interesting dining concept for Grand Central at Kennedy.

"The area is growing tremendously and we are excited to be a part of the development of the entire downtown Tampa area,'' says Bianchi. "I think there's a huge market with a really great cross section of people living in downtown and the Channel District.''

Plans call for a soft opening of the 40-seat restaurant on Friday, March 15th, with hours running Wednesday through Sunday.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Ken Stoltenberg, Grand Central at Kennedy; Susan Bianchi, Cena Restaurant

New Apartments To Offer Affordable Senior Living, St. Pete

An affordable senior apartment development is making its way to downtown St. Pete.

DDA Development's $18 million, 96-unit Campbell Landings project will offer Tampa Bay area seniors affordable rents in an active, urban location. Located on 6th Street South in St. Pete, qualifying seniors 55 and up will soon be able to take advantage of rents ranging from $280 to $680 monthly, depending on income.

Working with St. Pete architect Tim Clemmons of Mesh Architecture and general contractor Winter Park Construction, Campbell Landings will be developed under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program with additional financing from JP Morgan Chase and a $120,000 deferred payment loan from the City of St. Petersburg.

"St. Pete has always been known as a nice place for seniors and we like what has been done with the downtown area,'' says DDA President Bowen Arnold. "Campbell Landings will help make downtown St. Pete a desirable, urban place to live.''

The apartments will be located in the heart of St. Pete, less than a quarter mile from Bayfront Medical Center and in close proximity to public transportation, attractions such as the Mahaffey Theater, Dali Museum and Jannus Landing; and public parks. Arnold says the development will offer amenities typically found in market rate apartments, but with significantly lower rental rates.

DDA hopes to set a new standard for affordable housing in neighborhoods near downtown St. Pete, offering features such as a lounge, cafe bar, exercise room, library computer lab, tenant storage area, covered parking, elevated outdoor deck, community garden, pass-key protected entry and energy-saving appliances.

Campbell Landings aims to attract seniors whose incomes don't exceed approximately $30,000 per year.

"We genuinely enjoy the opportunity to provide a nice, safe, affordable environment to seniors,'' Arnold says. "We hope to positively impact downtown by providing a high-quality senior development at affordable rents.''

DDA Development has developed more than 2,000 apartment under the tax credit program.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Bowen Arnold, DDA Development

Cooper's Hawk Winery, Restaurant Opens First Florida Location, Tampa

Offering award-winning wines and a contemporary American menu, Chicago-based Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant will open the doors to its first Florida location in Tampa on Monday, March 11th.

Tampa Bay region's newest winery will move into an 11,229-square-foot space at MetWest InternationalMetLife's 32-acre mixed-use development in Westshore at 4110 W. Boy Scout Blvd.

Featuring a traditional winery setting, Cooper's Hawk will also act as a full-service restaurant offering contemporary American cuisine with signature dishes such as pistachio crusted grouper, red wine and mustard short ribs and Mexican drunken shrimp.

"Each dish on our menu has been created with our proprietary wines in mind,'' says Melanie Pierce, Cooper's Hawk manager of marketing communications. "Florida is a long ways from California, but we have the ability to bring a taste of California Wine Country to Florida.''

The Tampa location will mark the company's 12th opening with an additional location set to open in Orlando by the end of 2013; a third Florida location is planned for 2014.

With the capacity to seat 400 guests in a one-of-a-kind winery atmosphere, Tampa's Cooper's Hawk will feature a Napa-style tasting roomwine club and retail shop. According to Pierce, one of Cooper Hawk's goals it to give guests a unique experience, capturing the romantic world of wine in an approachable manner.

"Our goal is to make it fun and easy for people to learn more about wine and food, try new flavors and expand their palates,'' says Tim McEnery, Cooper's Hawk founder and CEO. "We've brought together some of the best talents in winemaking and the culinary arts to create inventive, flavorful food and wine pairings. At the same time, we want to be affordable.''

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant will offer lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Melanie Pierce & Tim McEnery, Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant

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
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