A struggling neighborhood in Tampa sees a brighter future with city and private investments, including the opening of a new healthy food restaurant.
“The city of Tampa has undertaken several steps to improve the Sulphur Springs neighborhood,” says Bob McDonaugh, Economic Opportunity Administrator for the city of Tampa. “Sulphur Springs was a neighborhood particularly hard hit during the real estate crisis and had a large number of foreclosures which contributed to blight in the neighborhood. The city of Tampa is determined to assist this neighborhood to get back on its feet.”
Keith and Vanessa Malson also see the potential in the neighborhood, which is why a few months ago they opened the Sulphur Springs Sandwich Shop
“We love the Sulphur Springs area. Its where we live and we wanted to bring some positive energy to the neighborhood,” Vanessa Malson says. “Currently there are mostly fast-food restaurants here, so we wanted to offer an alternate that is reasonable priced but also offers healthier options.”
The new restaurant features all homemade food, made from scratch daily.
“We don't necessarily believe that food has to be expensive or organic to be good for you, we believe it just needs to be homemade,” she says.
This is the first restaurant the couple has opened. Between the two of them, they have 25 years of restaurant experience. With 800-square-feet of space in their new establishment, the duo serves lunch Monday through Saturday, and also takes carry-out orders.
In an effort to bring more businesses and residents to the Sulphur Springs neighborhood, the city has demolished abandoned homes, focused more attention on enforcement of rules regulating maintenance and upkeep of properties and trimmed back trees that were interfering with the effectiveness of street lights.
“As part of the citywide 'Bright Lights Safe Nights
' initiative, the city, working with Tampa Electric, added 400 streetlights to the neighborhood,” McDonaugh says. “Studies show that increased illumination in neighborhoods lowers crime rates. In conjunction with efforts by the Tampa police department, Sulphur Springs has experienced a 20 percent reduction in crime.”
McDonaugh goes on to say, that the vacant homes that were demolished by the city are in the process of being replaced by new homes.
“Home ownership tends to stabilize neighborhoods and to date, the city has invested $1.4-million building new homes in Sulphur Springs,'' says McDonaugh. "This will not be a short-term effort, but the city will continue its efforts to assist this historic neighborhood.”