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Old February 13th, 2005, 07:03 PM   #1
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TAMPA | Franklin Street Development News

Note: I saw a city meeting where the owners of this block claimed htat they really do have a plan which they will bring out soon, which will involve some demolition but saving some buildigns. Also see bolded portion below:

Franklin Envisioned As Hub For Downtown
By ELLEN GEDALIUS egedalius@tampatrib.com
Published: Feb 13, 2005




TAMPA - The number of yellow and green ``condemned'' stickers along North Franklin Street easily rivals the number of ``open'' signs on the once- bustling shopping strip.
City officials, Tampa Downtown Partnership, developers and business owners envision something more.

The musty smell would vanish. The boards on shop windows would come down.

People would work on Franklin, and they also would live in condos there. After work, they would grab a drink, eat at a midpriced restaurant, see a flick at Tampa Theatre, admire the arts on Ashley Drive and walk - not drive - home to their urban lofts.

Today's sleepy and desolate Franklin would be tomorrow's hip and hopping place to be.

Why North Franklin Street? Why now?

Last week, representatives of the consulting company Hunter Interests Inc. told about 200 people gathered at Tampa Theatre of their plan to revitalize Tampa's urban core. Part of that vision plan centers on North Franklin, loosely between Kennedy Boulevard and Interstate 275. Company President Don Hunter proposes turning the corridor into an outdoor cafe district that would lure people to the streets after dark.

``You've got red brick, narrow lanes, landscaping,'' Hunter said. ``It's the kind of environment where if I was opening a cafe with umbrellas, it's exactly the kind of street I'd want to be on. A lot of the steppingstones to do this are in place.''

Consider:

* Franklin is home to Tampa Theatre, a historic movie house. People often look for a place to eat before or after the movie.

* TECO Plaza sits on Franklin, with the utility employing more than 700 people. Much of Franklin's revival depends on pedestrian traffic - people spilling out of the offices after work into restaurants nearby.

* Condos - and people - are coming. The condo project called Residences of Franklin Street will break ground in a few weeks. Construction is slated to begin on The Arlington, where condos sold out in a day and a half. Pradip C. Patel purchased the Maas Bros. department store buildings and, although he has no specific plans, residences and retail are options.

Those projects are in addition to the proposed Trump Tower Tampa, a condo project along Whiting Street and Ashley Drive.


The Forgotten Area

Franklin, a pedestrian mall between Jackson and Twiggs streets, has been ``Tampa's sort of forgotten area,'' said Stephanie Ferrell of Arlington Partners, the group converting the Arlington Hotel into 11 condos and eight offices. ``We're just beginning to do those interesting and exciting things that make a city vibrant and vital.''

In the cafe district, Hunter envisions a sushi bar next to a Greek restaurant next to an Italian eatery.

They don't have to be large restaurants, he said. Most could be mom-and pop places, although he speculates that some of the area's bigger restaurants might be interested in opening smaller spots on Franklin.

Large chain restaurants wouldn't be ideal, Hunter said. There's not enough room to park. Keep them in the suburbs, he said.

Retail also would be an important part of the mix, Hunter said.

Again, he doesn't anticipate high-end chain clothing stores. Rather, there would be art galleries and specialty shops, perhaps a florist or shirt and tie store.

To make that happen, Hunter would create a downtown development corporation, which would be charged with setting up a storefront office in the North Franklin area. The agency would try to lease five retail properties in its first year and another five a few years later. Old buildings would be rehabilitated and leased.

A foundering economy could jeopardize these dreams, said Rodney Kite- Powell, a historian at Tampa Bay History Center. Interest rates would climb. People would be less likely to invest in new condos. Banks would lose their ability to finance projects.

Besides renewing Franklin, the Tampa Downtown Vision and Action Plan outlines ways to boost the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center area and the city's proposed riverwalk along the Hillsborough River. area.

Christine Burdick, president of Tampa Downtown Partnership, hopes those districts play off one another: People could head to a restaurant on Franklin after watching a show at the performing arts center or walking their dogs along the riverwalk.


Past And Present

The Franklin corridor was at its business peak in the 1940s and early 1950s, Kite-Powell said. But by the 1960s, it had fallen victim to the suburbs. As people moved to Town 'N Country and Carrollwood, businesses and malls opened.

By the 1980s and early 1990s, more malls opened. With little population growth downtown, Woolworth's and other stores along Franklin struggled, Kite-Powell said.

With the influx of residences downtown, though, the historian predicts a revival.

``The key is people,'' he said. ``If people move into downtown Tampa, businesses will follow. There's not a Publix on the Pasco County line because cows want to shop there. People do.''

Current business owners look forward to more vibrancy on Franklin.

Leland Cool of the Nature Shop wishes Franklin would resemble lower Manhattan. When Tampa residents see boarded-up businesses on Franklin, he said, they steer clear. His flower store relies heavily on Internet and phone orders.

``It affects us because people don't come into the area,'' Cool said. ``If there's just one or two businesses, there's no reason, no destination point'' for shoppers.


`A Good Time To Get In'

When Elliott Acosta laid the groundwork for opening his casual eatery, Mr. Empanada, on Franklin, he noticed a strong, moldy odor and water leaking from the Maas Bros. building next door. The problem was mostly fixed, although a smell lingers.

``You can't put a table out there because they'd get dripped with moldy water,'' Acosta said. But, of opening a restaurant on Franklin, he said, ``It's a good time to get in.''

Ferrell, when talking about her condo and business plan for The Arlington, feels the same way.

``We want to do something that's very good and make money at it,'' Ferrell said.

Having a downtown development corporation coordinating efforts should help spur revitalization, Burdick said. Until now, landowners have been operating independently, she said.

``It's difficult for a single retailer to go in there and be successful,'' Burdick said. ``And I'm not sure they've all been trying. Successful retail requires synergy.''

Before long, she and Hunter hope, Franklin will thrive the way it did when people shopped at Woolworth's and Maas Bros.

``There's no reason some of this community development can't happen in Tampa,'' Hunter said. ``We think that's a reasonable thing.''


Researcher Diane Grey contributed to this story. Reporter Ellen Gedalius can be reached at (813) 259-7679
http://www.tampatrib.com/MGB2MGMM45E.html
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Old February 14th, 2005, 07:25 PM   #2
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A friend of mine told me yesterday that Franklin residences is well over 50% sold, so maybe it really will go soon. They should update their website.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 07:30 PM   #3
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There was also an artile in the business journal of a two story office going up on between Florida-Franklin near Tyler. NOt huge, but any space that gets filled in with something decent and bigger than 1 story is fine by me right now. Get some momentum going and more will come.
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Old February 15th, 2005, 03:04 AM   #4
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Does it take up a whole block, or just a portion of one?

A two story building could make perfect sense. It's big enough that they can make more in rents than they could in parking revenues in that area, and the building is a relatively small investment, which could be bulldozed for something which maximizes developable space when the market is stronger.
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Old February 15th, 2005, 03:13 PM   #5
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No, I think it is about a quarter block or half a block. Looks kind of nice in the bad rendering. Something to give life. There is enough open and underused space on the north of downtown that it worries me little.
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Old February 15th, 2005, 05:27 PM   #6
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I don't think the importance of the 30-something story Novare tower can be overstated in terms of the development of North Tampa. I think once that project is underway, people (ie government and developers) will see some tangible movement in this area. Restauranteurs will be more attracted to this newly dubbed "cafe district" and the risk won't seem as great to open a business on Franklin.

Anyone heard any news on this project, other than the website that doesn't give any specifics? Are they opening a sales center soon?
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Old February 15th, 2005, 06:33 PM   #7
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^Opening the sales center when site demo is done and they can get it built, from what I've heard.
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Old February 15th, 2005, 06:53 PM   #8
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Developer told me it was going to start in MArch - the building that is. I have no real idea how, but that's what they said in January without qualifications.
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Old February 16th, 2005, 01:01 AM   #9
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does anyone know whats up with the arlington conversion?
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Old February 16th, 2005, 02:11 AM   #10
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SOld out - I think work is being done now
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Old February 17th, 2005, 06:18 AM   #11
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http://www.tampatrib.com/Business/MGBPEOFDA5E.html
Downtown High-Rise Is Ready For Takeoff
By SHANNON BEHNKEN sbehnken@tampatrib.com
Published: Feb 17, 2005

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TAMPA - Donald Trump's plan for luxurious condominiums may be the talk of the town, but it's the 32-story SkyPoint development that is on track to break ground soon.

If all goes as planned, construction will begin in April - making it the first residential high-rise in downtown's central business district.

Gregory Minder, of Novare- Intown Tampa Development LLC, said Wednesday that the company is close to obtaining the project's $80 million in financing and plans to open a marketing office March 5.

Intowngroup of Tampa is working with the Atlanta- based Novare Group to build the condominiums. Minder said he hopes to attract 25- to 40-year-old professionals looking to live in an urban environment. Many of these units, he said, will offer an alternative for those who cannot afford the high-end homes planned for the area.

``The top end of our product is where some others begin,'' Minder said.

Company officials have kept the details quiet until now, but there has been increasing speculation about what is planned for the downtown site, which is surrounded by a plywood fence. The Tampa Electric parking structure was demolished last month and the property is being prepped for construction.

The 381 units at 777 Ashley Drive would be one- and two- bedrooms, priced from about $170,000 to more than $400,000, Minder said. The building, which would be directly across the street from the proposed new Tampa Museum of Art, would play off the cultural environment planned for the area.

Residents would be able to view and choose their favorite paintings from a virtual gallery in the lobby. The selections would be encoded in their access key. When the key is swiped at the front door, plasma screens in the lobby would display their art.

When the key was swiped to enter the elevator - which would take residents to their floor only - the television in the elevator would change to the station of their choice. The selections would remain for five minutes before the next resident's selections appear.

``The same technology that makes this a safe building is used to make it fun,'' Minder said.

The units generally would range from 745 to 1,310 square feet. The average condominium would be 900 square feet but won't feel small, Minder said, because of 10-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

A pair of two-story penthouses also are planned for the top of the building.

SkyPoint amenities would include a 24-hour concierge, a covered parking garage, a pool, fitness center and a common kitchen for entertaining. The interior of the units would feature wood floors and granite countertops.

The ground floor would feature 10,000 square feet of storefronts and restaurant space.

SkyPoint is one of four high- rise condominium projects planned for the downtown business district. In nearby areas, 24 condominium projects of varying sizes are either in construction or proposed for the Channel District, Harbour Island and Bayshore Boulevard.

The majority of the units at SkyPoint would range from $200,000 to more than $1 million. By contrast, units at the planned 52-story Trump Tower Tampa start at $700,000 and run to more than $6 million.

Intowngroup also is involved in the Meridian condominium development under construction in the Channel District. The Novare Group has done projects similar to SkyPoint in Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, the company said.

Minder said a model unit will be built inside the marketing center in the Colonial Bank building at 400 N. Tampa St. so buyers can see what they are purchasing. Condominium developments typically take reservations on units before construction begins, but Minder said his company will do contract sales only.

Reporter Shannon Behnken can be reached at (813) 259-7804.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 06:29 AM   #12
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What a spectacular rendering ! This one's really growing on me.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 02:27 PM   #13
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I think it's going to be a great project! To see the daytime rendering, or register for more info, go to www.tampa.novaregroup.com.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 02:34 PM   #14
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Ah, some quick math - 10 foot ceiling means 11 or 12 foot heights per floor, at least so in the 350-400 range - let's hope the 32 does not count that silliness on top and it gets to 400. That would be nice.

Not sure how they will get started by April - always wondered about that - but hope they do. I like it - though the rendering angle emphasizes height rather than wisth. From another side it will look a bit more squat, but that's ok.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 04:37 PM   #15
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BTW... I thought something looked a little funny, so I downloaded that SkyPoint rendering and counted the floors...There were 35-36 floors, depending how the top is arranged. And then there is the spire thing, which is a solid 40-50ft.

If the building really has grown a few floors (which seems entirely believable if their sales claims are true), then it is definitely going to be 400ft+. I think at this size, this building is going to really stand out, if it is done right. They definitely need to light the top in some interesting way.

If it really is 36 floors now...then that puts the hieght projection right at 400-410ft. Hmmm, I wonder if they can push it to 450-475?
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Old February 17th, 2005, 04:44 PM   #16
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Of course, renderings are notoriously inaccurate but yea, that pic is 34 or 35 stories. My guess, it will be just under 400', just to be annoying.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 04:46 PM   #17
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In any case, this one should be quite dominant from 275, no ?
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Old February 17th, 2005, 05:01 PM   #18
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^That's what I'm talking about by saying it will stand out. More important is the fact that its location is such that the sw to nw views are practically gauranteed longterm.

I personally think this project is going to be serious sleeper investment. People won't fully grasp how great the location is until the building has actually been there a while.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 05:05 PM   #19
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I think Novarre's found the formula for sure.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 05:15 PM   #20
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This is the one that my parents are mulling buying a unit in, and might help me out on one, if they can swing it (probably not, because they're looking to get one of the larger units).
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