Meet the finalists for Tampa's Urban Excellence Awards

The Tampa Downtown Partnership’s Urban Excellence Awards, an annual celebration of the people, businesses, and events that make downtown vibrant and unique, is coming up on November 6 at the Tampa Museum of Art.

The annual awards honor achievement in nine categories: Public Sector Project Award, Private Sector Award, Downtown Collaboration Award, Landmark Development Project Award, Downtown Experience Award, Activating Spaces Award, Marketplace Award, Arts & Culture Award, People’s Choice Award, and the Christine M. Burdick Leadership Award.

“We are really highlighting fine grain elements of downtown that other awards would not be covering,” says Tampa Downtown Partnership Director of Marketing and Design Ashly Anderson. “Categories such as the Activating Spaces Award are something that we uniquely can shed light upon and give praise to compared to another awards program because downtown is our job.”

Anderson says the leadership award named for former Downtown Partnership President and CEO Christine Burdick “embodies the spirit of the awards” more than any other honor.

“We really pride ourselves on that award always being an unsung hero for downtown,” she says. “It’s not always going to be a big developer or an elected official. It can be someone who affects your daily life by working in a store or owning a business downtown, anyone who makes the downtown experience fun, richer, more delightful, more entrepreneurial.”

This year, the three finalists for the Christine M. Burdick Leadership Award are downtown developer and business owner Carolyn Wilson, business owner and restauranteur Dave Burton and Gloria Jean Royster, a downtown resident and activist who brought renewed attention to the accomplishments of Fortune Taylor, a freed slave who became a prominent land and business owner.

Nominations are a public process. A jury of urban enthusiasts, including businesspeople, past winners, and Downtown Partnership board members, then selects three finalists in each category.

This year’s full group of finalists include:

Activating Spaces

  • Beautification and Activation of the John F. Germany Library Lawn
  • Channel District Community Alliance (CDCA)
  • Move on Marion – Downtown Tampa Pop Up Party

Arts & Culture

  • Straz Center for Performing Arts 2018-2019 Season, Inclusion of Hamilton & Arts Legacy Remix
  • Because of Sam The Movie Premiere at Tampa Theatre
  • Tampa Skyline Mural by Illsol


  • 13 Ugly Men Foundation Inc.
  • Tampa Bay History Center Historic Walking Tours
  • “Wiesn in a Box” hosted by The Barrymore Hotel


  • Mayor Jane Castor’s Inaugural Boom by The Bay
  • Friends of the Riverwalk 2018 Trick or Treat
  • Lizzo Freak Shake by Bake’n Babes

Landmark Development

  • Channel Club Apartments & Publix at Channel Club
  • Manor Riverwalk by Related Group
  • Sparkman Wharf


  • Indie Flea Tampa at Armature Works
  • The Modern Paws
  • Florida School of Woodwork

Private Sector

  • All for Transportation
  • Hampton Home2Suites + Starbucks by Liberty Group
  • Park Tower Renovation by Feldman Equities & Tower Realty Partners

Public Sector

  • Clean Air Fair by the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County
  • Harpoon Harrys at the Tampa Convention Center
  • The Sail & Big Rays Fish Camp/City of Tampa

There is also a People’s Choice Award. All 50 nominees, including the finalists are eligible. Voting is done online at the Tampa Downtown Partnership website. Tickets to the awards ceremony are also available for purchase through the website.

Tampa’s Modulo Design Studio designed and manufactured the awards, which depict the downtown skyline.

For more information follow these links:

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather, and Florida's wealth of outdoor festivals.
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