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Sarasota's Selby Gardens Flourishes With Renovations

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is abloom with renovations and upgrades designed to modernize and heighten the aesthetic quality of the beloved Sarasota landmark.

The Great Room by the Bay, the organization's private event venue and meeting facility, received a "floor-to-ceiling'' cosmetic makeover this summer, thanks to financial assistance from Selby Board Trustee Sandy Rederer, as well as in-kind services provided by Fawley Bryant Architects, Tandem Construction and Milton Shenk LLC.

The 3,600-square-foot facility, which features 60-foot-high west-facing windows with stunning sunset views of Sarasota Bay, has been a popular destination for weddings, parties and other private events since its construction in the late 1980s, but Rederer and the Selby staff felt that the space was in need of a cosmetic upgrade.

"It was just really dated and really needed a face lift,'' says Sarah Colandro, Director of Interiors at Fawley Bryant. "We wanted to capitalize on the architecture already there, but to neutralize the space and take out the outdated aspects like the patterned carpet and the wood beams, doors and trim that showed the age of the building.''

Renovations to the Great Room began in July, 2013, and were completed in August. The design and construction team replaced the outdated patterned carpet with new high-performance flooring in a neutral shade of charcoal that is versatile enough to complement a variety of themed decor, while the walls and ceiling received a makeover including new light fixtures, ceiling tiles and fire sprinklers, as well as a fresh, white finish to brighten the room and accommodate any event style. Upgrades were also made to lighting and fixtures in the restroom area.

The most visually intriguing aspect of the $121,000 renovation project is the addition of floating, illuminated white fabric kites that are assembled in the ceiling alcove of the Great Room. The kites can be accented with colored spotlight lenses for drama and effect during themed weddings and parties.

"These improvements will help Selby Gardens remain competitive and successful in attracting prime wedding and event rental income,'' says Selby Gardens CEO Thomas Butcher. "The revenue from private functions provides much needed support for ongoing operations.''

In addition to the renovations in the Great Room, a second construction team took advantage of the Selby Botanical Gardens' slow summer season to work on the highly anticipated Ann Goldstein Children's Rainforest, which is scheduled to open in early November.

The Ann Goldstein Children's Garden at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will include an educational waterfall and forest pool where all ages can learn about aquatic ecosystems and rainforest plants, a canopy walk and rope bridge, an epiphyte canyon full of rocks and the unique plants that grow on them, a research station that features field botany techniques and gadgets, as well as an amphitheatre, classroom and special exhibition spaces in the Rainforest Village.

The project is funded by donations from community foundations, including the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and other private donors, including Sarasota Philanthropist Al Goldstein, who contributed the lead naming gift to initiate the project, following his wife's death in 2011.

Hazeltine Nurseries, Tandem Construction and Milton Shenk LLC collaborated on the design and construction of the educational rainforest garden. The $5 million project began construction on March 1, 2013 and is scheduled for completion this fall. The Children's Rainforest will open to the public on November 9, 2013.

Writer: Jessi Smith
Source: Sandy Rederer and Thomas Butcher, Selby Gardens; Sarah Colandro, Fawley Bryant

Construction Begins On Water Works Park, Extension Of Tampa Riverwalk

The east side of the Hillsborough River just north of downtown Tampa is about to take on a whole new look and feel.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Casey Gonzmart of the Columbia Restaurant Group and community leaders will break ground Wednesday, Oct. 9, on a $7.4 million improvement project to extend the Tampa Riverwalk through Water Works Park, connecting downtown to the Tampa Heights neighborhood.

Angela Hendershot, architect with Rowe Architects, Inc. and part of the Biltmore Construction's design-build team for the park's renovation, expects the park to serve as an anchor and terminus of the Riverwalk. Park improvements are slated to include a play area, splash pad, dog run, performance pavilion, open lawn and multiple public boat docks.

Hendershot says park's design will be "a modern interpretation respectful of the historic Waterworks Building and other park structures.''

In addition to the park improvements, the Columbia Restaurant Group is in the process of transforming the nearby historic Water Works Building into a Native American-inspired restaurant and brewery.

Named after the bubbling spring that flows into the Hillsborough River in Tampa Heights -- what was Tampa's first source of drinking water -- Ulele will serve unique foods and sprits, featuring items indigenous to this area’s waters and farms.

"This is a city building that was sitting vacant and will be put back onto the tax rolls and have a productive use. It's going to put some people to work and add to the tax base,'' says Bob McDonough, manager of the Channel District and Downtown Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA). "Combining this with the nearby Water Works Park project will make for a great destination.''

Initial construction on Ulele began in fall 2012 and will be completed as part of the park improvements. Completion is slated for spring 2014.

"We're looking forward to the development of the property,'' McDonough says.

Of the $7.4 million budget for park improvements, $6.5 million in funding comes from Capital Improvements Tax (CIT). Additional dollars will come from a SFWMD grant and the site's designation as a brownfield. It's estimated that $2 million will be put into the Water Works building redevelopment project.

"Both projects will enhance the waterfront," says Principal Rick Rowe of Rowe Architects.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Bob McDonough, City of Tampa; Angela Hendershot and Rick Rowe, Rowe Architects

Love Your City? Participate In Local Tactical Urbanism Workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Synergy Health Moves From North Tampa To Downtown

A leading provider of specialist services, the British firm Synergy plans to relocate from its current 45,000-square-foot corporate American headquarters at 12425 Race Track Road in Tampa to downtown Tampa's iconic SunTrust building.

"This move to downtown Tampa is part of our plan to become more involved in the Tampa Bay community,'' says Group CEO and founder of Synergy Health Dr. Richard Steeves. "The new location also makes business easier and more convenient for our international colleagues with increased proximity to Tampa International Airport.''

The relocation is set to include 100 existing employees while creating approximately 40 new jobs within the next year in Hillsborough County.

"We're working to create an active, vibrant downtown that serves as a hub of innovation and commerce,'' says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "Synergy Health's decision to become part of our downtown community is more proof that our efforts are paying off. I look forward to welcoming the company and its employees to downtown Tampa.''

While no financial incentives were involved in the company's decision to relocate, the move will help Synergy become more active in promoting innovation in the life sciences industry, including the MediFuture initiative launched by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. earlier this year.

"Earlier this year, we welcomed Synergy Health to Hillsborough County and celebrated the arrival of another significant industry partner,'' says Chairman of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Ken Hagan. "Their commitment is a key step in creating a critical mass in Tampa Bay's life sciences industry.''

Plans to sell the existing Synergy Health facility, previously occupied by SRI Surgical, are underway; the property is assessed at $3.5 million. Representation will be provided by Cassidy Turley of Tampa.

The U.K.-based Synergy Health provides sterilization services to hospitals in Europe, Asia and across America for surgical instruments, reusable operating room textiles and sterilization services for medical devices. In 2012, the company acquired SRI Surgical, and in April 2013, announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters for the Americas from San Diego to Tampa Bay. Synergy Health currently employs 5,600 individuals worldwide.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Richard Steeves, Synergy Health; Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa

Channel District Gains New Apartments, Downtown Tampa

Miami's Related Group is celebrating the grand opening of Pierhouse Apartments, an artsy enclave with an industrial flair, in the Channel District of downtown Tampa.

"We chose the area because we're excited by the job growth of the Tampa area, as well as the up-and-coming artsy edginess of the Channel District,'' says Arturo Pena, Pierhouse project manager and VP of Related Development. "Pierhouse brings more residents to an area that is growing more and more popular as it reaches critical mass. We are proud to play a part in this.''

With four, four-story wood frame buildings, the project includes 365 apartments, an expansive pool/sun deck area with a bar and poolside grilling areas, two-story gym, therapy room, event meeting/dining room, catered kitchen and dining room, double-height club lounge, gated parking garage and an urban art park located directly in the middle of the development.

Featuring five large, heavily landscaped courtyards, the park showcases specially commissioned sculptures for the development. Keeping in line with Related’s commitment to the arts and promoting green spaces, Pena expects the park to be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of urban living.

"Residents and visitors will be able to both admire the views and artwork within the park or simply go for a stroll through it,'' he says. "We are confident Pierhouse will be a signature project in the area and look forward to becoming an active part of the neighborhood.''

The project also expects to add nearly 4,800 square feet of retail. Plans for amenities that can both benefit residents and the neighborhood are in the works, including a sandwich shop, coffee house and/or wine bar.

"We want Pierhouse to continue to build on the transformation of the Channel District -- from its working marina, nautical past to a cool, artsy 24-hour district offering residents a place to live, work and play,'' Pena says.

Designed by MSA Architects, construction began on the new 4-story Pierhouse Apartments in December 2012. Leasing began in April, with the interior and common areas designed by world-renowned interior designers RTKL. Walker and Company acted as general contractor. The project worked with a more than $550 million budget. It is among 11 multifamily projects in Florida announced by Related.

Writer: Alexis Chamberlain
Source: Arturo Pena, Pierhouse Apartments

New Port Richey's Hacienda Hotel Ripe For Restoration, Redevelopment

The historic Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey awaits its future after the city gave it a recent makeover with the help of the local community.
 
In January 2013, City leaders identified the Hacienda as a community project and organized a cleanup of the 86-year-old hotel property. With the help of nearly 400 community volunteers working over two days, the City cleaned both the interior and exterior of the hotel.

"We had to turn people away due to the limit on the number of people allowed inside the building at one time,'' says City Clerk Doreen Summers. Following the elaborate cleanup, the City completed the black topping of parking and painting of the Hotel's exterior walls using city funds. Original pieces of the Hotel's fountain were restored with the help of donations from the Holiday Rotary Club.

The City of New Port Richey bought The Hacienda Hotel at the height of the real estate boom in 2003 with the intention of restoring the historic icon to its former glory. Since then the City has been looking for willing buyers who can convert it into a boutique hotel and help revitalize the City's Downtown.

Designed by Thomas Reed Martin, the Hacienda Hotel is influenced by the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The two-story building is symmetrical in design with pink stucco exterior walls, red-tiled roofs and arched windows with wrought-iron balconies. In the 1920s, the City of New Port Richey was known as the "Hollywood of the East'' and the Hacienda Hotel was a popular among many film stars like Thomas Meighan and Gloria Swanson of the silent era movies.

The Hacienda, remained a thriving hub of the local social scene until the late 1970s after which it was converted to an assisted-living facility. In 1996, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and in recent decades, fell into decline. It has been vacant since 2006.

Recently, with the hope of turning things around, the City hired the Pasco County Economic Development Council to evaluate proposals and develop marketing strategies for the Hotel.

"The business model is going to be the key deciding factor,'' says John Hagen, President of the Pasco County EDC. "Although the City is keen on owning the Hotel, it is also open to other ideas. Currently, there are three developers, who are interested in Hacienda.''
 
The City won't pick a general contractor until additional funds can be identified to conduct an architectural study that is required before commencing the restoration work. Readers interested in helping defray the costs can visit Citizinvestor, an online crowdfunding website that is collecting funds for the project.

The total cost of renovation can only be estimated after the study, which involves assessment of structural and environmental issues associated with restoration. Alternative uses such as banquet facilities, restaurant, retail, museum, or art gallery, Bed & Breakfast are being considered for the Hotel's reuse.

Located on Main Street and within close proximity to key urban elements such as the Sims Park and the Cotee River, the Hacienda Hotel holds great potential for attracting additional visitors to the City's downtown and triggering the redevelopment of Main Street.

Summers points to the City of Safety Harbor, where the restoration of one of its historic buildings into a hotel and spa, helped in revitalizing of the entire downtown.

"The renovation of the Hacienda Hotel is one of the key elements in the revitalization of New Port Richey downtown,'' Hagen agrees.

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Sources: Doreen Summers, City of New Port Richey; John Hagen, Pasco Economic Development Council

Invision Tampa Invites Input For Nebraska Avenue

The Invision Tampa team is ready to present a draft Nebraska Corridor Master Plan to the public.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., the team invites the public to join in a discussion about the planning results responding to community feedback from previous one-on-one meetings, group workshops, neighborhood meetings, surveys and research, as well as to consider preliminary concepts, ideas and strategies suggested by stakeholders. The meeting will be held at the Children's Board in Ybor City, at 1002 E. Palm Ave.

“Connectivity between urban areas has always been a part of the Mayor’s goals and this project ties in nicely,” says City of Tampa Economic Opportunity Administrator Bob McDonough. “Until now, there had never been a comprehensive study of this area that looked at connectivity between major projects, design guidelines, amenities, funding strategies, zoning, land use and growth strategies. This plan will take a holistic approach of all of the various disciplines and future requirements and tie them together in one study.”

Ultimately, the InVision Tampa project is designed  to create a better downtown Tampa: a walkable, bikeable community with a public transit system and increased population in the downtown urban core; a city with strong, safe neighborhoods, more parks and connections to a riverfront with clean waterways.

“It is a very exciting time in Tampa!” McDonough says. “I was a student at the University of Tampa in the early 70s and have witnessed the growth and change in our downtown during the last 30 -- almost 40 -- years. The changes in the last five years have been the most dramatic that I have seen and I can't wait to see the next five.”

Invision Tampa is working toward creating a new master plan for downtown Tampa, the Nebraska Transit Corridor, Hillsborough Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods. Spanning from downtown Tampa to Ybor City on the east, Armenia Avenue on the west and north along Nebraska and Hillsborough Avenues, the area under study includes the University of Tampa (UT), North Hyde Park, West Tampa, Tampa Heights, Ybor City, V.M. Ybor, downtown Tampa and the Channel District.

"InVision Tampa is going to create a blueprint for downtown Tampa for the next 25 years. We are literally studying how people live in Tampa today and how they will tomorrow,'' says Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "InVision is looking at how we can improve Tampa's urban core through community participation and proposed ordinance changes.''

The Invision Tampa project is funded by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Bob McDonough and Mayor Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa

BIG Boost To Waterfront In Gulfport, Madeira Beach

The cities of Gulfport and Madeira Beach in Pinellas County will soon realize significant improvements for recreational boating and their waterfronts following the award of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG).
 
Both cities, on a project cost basis, received BIG Tier-1 fund totaling $380,750 and $822,066 respectively. The total amount awarded includes the BIG grant and a proportionate amount as non-federal funding.

Gavin Shire, a Public Affairs Specialist with USFWS in Arlington, VA, says the "Tier-1 is a smaller and a noncompetitive program awarded to each applying State, while, Tier-2 is a nationally competitive funding program meant for large-scale projects.''

Funded by the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, the BIG grant gets its revenue from excise taxes collected on fishing equipment, yachts and gasoline.

Gulfport is using the Grant to construct an ADA compliant (Americans With Disabilities Act) floating dock made from composite decking and designed for eight boats.

"Construction is expected to start by January 2014,'' says Denis Frain, Gulfport's Director of Marina Operations. Any unspent funds from the grant will be returned to USFWS after July 2015. According to Frain, "The funded dock will be free of charge and open to the public for use.''

Madeira Beach plans to upgrade its waterfront facilities for vessels, with an increase in 14 slips and four moorings, and other amenities such as pump-out stations and a fuel dock.

Apart from investing in boating infrastructure facilities, both cities may use the funds for production and distribution of educational materials about the program and recreational boating.
 
By creating diverse recreational opportunities, new jobs and a multitude of small businesses, BIG grants can have a significant impact on the local economy.

The BIG grant is crucial to Gulfport, as "it will not only improve boating facilities, but also help the City in its Downtown revitalization efforts,'' says Frain.

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Sources: Gavin Shire, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service; Denis Frain, City of Gulfport

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
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