West River redevelopment continues new construction in Tampa

The redevelopment of the former North Boulevard Homes public housing complex into the mixed-use, mixed-income community of West River has reached a new milestone.

The Tampa Housing Authority and its project partners are starting construction on three new buildings that will each include a mix of market-rate and affordable housing over ground-floor retail space.

Combined, the three Boulevard Tower buildings will have 371 apartments and a little over 6,300 square feet of retail space, along with computer/library, fitness, and community/game rooms for residents.

“This is a very significant milestone for the overall West River development because it signifies the rebirth of West Tampa and heralds in a new vision for the future of the over-all West Tampa community,” Tampa Housing Authority Director of Public relations Lillian Stringer says in an email. “Historically, I can’t recall when three monumental ground-breakings were held at the same time, on the same site that would provide 371 multi-family units. Additionally, this new construction would contribute to the increase of more affordable housing that is critically needed in the City of Tampa.

The Tampa Housing Authority, the City of Tampa and various community stakeholders first eyed redevelopment of North Boulevard Homes, where barracks-style buildings housed more than 800 apartments in the city’s oldest public housing project since the InVision Tampa master planning process started in 2011. Their vision was to replace an isolated pocket of poverty with a vibrant, mixed-income, mixed-use community in a prime location along the Hillsborough River and close to downtown.

The long-term plan is to create a community of 2,100 mixed-income apartments, 90,000-square-feet of retail, 77,000-square-feet of office and 80 townhomes.

Two affordable housing complexes for seniors -- Renaissance at West River and a renovated Mary Bethune Apartments -- are currently under construction with Mary Bethune expected to finish in late Fall of this year and Renaissance in the Fall of 2021.

“Despite our best efforts, the need for more affordable housing is crucial,” Stringer says. “We are doing our part to put a dent in this need and encourage other entities to do the same. By working together, I believe that we certainly can accomplish more.

There was a public groundbreaking ceremony for the three new buildings on March 10 at the corner of North Oregon Avenue and West Main Street. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Tampa City Council members, representatives of developer the Related Group, builder Suffolk Construction, United States Department of Housing Urban Development officials, and a former North Boulevard Homes resident joined Housing Authority officials at the event.

For more information, follow these links: Tampa Housing Authority, West River Redevelopment

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 the wealth of outdoor festivals.
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