Old Tampa Courthouse To Get New Lease On Life

A Tampa courthouse that's been closed for 13 years could soon reopen its doors -- this time, as a hotel.

Built in 1905 as a post office, the building became a customs house before transforming into the 106-year-old Classic Federal Courthouse it is today.

Located at 611 N. Florida Ave., the three-story courthouse features towering windows and enormous columns, as well as marble, stone and oak throughout -- assets Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn thinks would transform perfectly into a boutique hotel with approximately 120 rooms.

“For too long, Florida developers have torn down old buildings to put new ones up,” says Buckhorn. “The federal courthouse is a historical and cultural landmark and it's important to not only preserve it, but to also utilize it in a way that people can enjoy it. It represents our history and will anchor downtown's future. It adds to the unique flavor of Tampa.”

Now city-owned, the courthouse was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1974, but closed in 1998 shortly after the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse opened two blocks north at 801 N. Florida Ave. A study done in 2008 by the Tampa chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) estimated a full renovation including solutions to asbestos and water damage would cost approximately $18 million.

“The renovation and reopening of the hotel will benefit practically everyone: Developers will have the opportunity to create a unique hotel that will hopefully draw in a lot of business, construction workers will be hired for the project, staff will be hired to run the hotel, surrounding businesses will benefit from increased traffic and citizens will benefit from the additional dollars on the tax roll,” says Buckhorn. “Our urban core is long overdue for activity and this hotel would activate a piece of our downtown that has been vacant for too long.”

The City of Tampa recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the long-term lease and redevelopment of the courthouse. Specifically targeting development as a hotel, proposals in response to the RFP will be accepted until December 8th at 4 p.m.

To obtain a copy of the RFP package or to learn more about the Classic Federal Courthouse, visit the City of Tampa official website.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn
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