Riverwalk Gets $10.9M Federal Grant, Tampa

The City of Tampa is making significant progress on making downtown Tampa a place for residents to live, work and play.

In addition to the new 20-story Southgate Tower office building planned for 2016 near the Tampa Bay Times Forum off of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway -- the first new office building in downtown Tampa in 20 years -- significant progress will soon be made in an attempt to complete Tampa's 2.6-mile riverfront walkway along the Hillsborough River.

Thanks to a $10.9 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, the City will be able to make way on filling in two major gaps in the Tampa Riverwalk: one segment going south of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park under the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge and a second going north from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts to Water Works Park.

The total construction cost for both segments is $13.7 million with the portion under Kennedy Bridge costing approximately $10 million alone.

“The Kennedy Boulevard Plaza segment is the key link,” says Lee Hoffman, development manager for the Riverwalk. “Everything has been designed and permitted, we were just waiting on funding.”

Construction on these portions will create approximately 200 temporary construction jobs, in addition to becoming a catalyst for investment along the Hillsborough River. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn calls the TIGER grant a “game-changer for downtown Tampa,” emphasizing the Riverwalk as a key element in the effort to revitalize the downtown urban core.

Construction on the newly funded segments is expected to start by the end of 2013.

Recently, Mayor Buckhorn cut the ribbon to two new sections of the Riverwalk: the Brorein Street Underpass and the Brownstone Segment, which extended the southern part of the existing walkway an additional 550 feet. These sections brought the length of contiguous Riverwalk walkway just shy of one mile. Currently, 1.5 miles of the Riverwalk are in place for the public to enjoy.

According to Bob McDonaugh, administrator of economic opportunity for the City of Tampa, the City has also been successful in getting grant funding from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to put in docks behind the Tampa Bay History Center as part of the Riverwalk project. The docks will service the History Center, Forum and Channelside area and is expected to see completion by early August.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Lee Hoffman & Bob McDonaugh, City of Tampa
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