What's new and what's next in the Ybor City CRA

Twenty-one brand-new archway lights span East Seventh Avenue, the main drag in the Ybor City Historic District.

The 34-foot-long aluminum arches, adorned with a “Y” medallion at their midpoint and outfitted with energy-efficient LED lighting, replace decorative archway lighting that stood along Seventh for more than three decades. The new lights are part of the Tampa Community Redevelopment Department's ongoing efforts to use property tax revenues generated within the Ybor City Community Redevelopment Area boundaries to spruce up the district through public infrastructure improvements and programs that help businesses fund facade improvements. 

That effort has included a streetscaping project that put down new hexagon pavers along Seventh from Nuccio Parkway to 26th Street and erected a gateway monument at 26th Street to mark the eastern entrance of the CRA district. A recently- launched micro-grant program for businesses offers matching grants of up to $10,000 to upgrade storefront and building facades.

The archway lights are also a prime example of how the online survey of workers and residents that the Ybor City CRA conducts every other year helps guide projects. Ybor City Development Corporation Manager Courtney Orr says the archway lights project moved forward after it received strong support in a prior year’s survey. Workers and residents in the Ybor now have another chance to provide feedback that helps guide decisions on investing in new programs and services and maintaining established ones in the bustling historic district. The fourth version of the worker and resident survey launched online on June 12th. It is expected to remain open for four to six weeks.

Meanwhile, the city is also preparing to auction off the old archway lights removed from Seventh Avenue. This summer, the old arches will go up for bid on auction platform GovDeals.com in five sets of four, Orr says. Those interested in purchasing an iconic piece of Ybor City history should take note that each archway is 32 feet long and four feet high. 

Looking ahead, Orr says an ambitious plan to remake Centennial Park is in its early stages. The city has contracted with the New York-based landscape architecture and urban design firm !Melk, which has overseen major park redesign projects across the country, to work on the vision for that project.

“We want a ‘wow’ park,” Orr says. “We don’t want a standard park. We have been very clear we want a ‘wow’ park to match everything else going on in Ybor.”

For more information, go to Ybor City CRA and Ybor City worker and resident survey
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.