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Group Assesses Urban Outlook

By JANIS D. FROELICH, The Tampa Tribune

Published: June 9, 2007

DOWNTOWN - David Jeffries says he's happy to leave behind the inconveniences of working in the inner core of downtown - the parking deck and the escalator followed by elevator ride to his high-rise office.

But what he's thrilled about is that his Fee & Jeffries law firm hasn't left downtown. The firm moved less than a month ago from the Bank of America building on East Kennedy Boulevard to the restored Arlington, a former hotel in the 1200 block of North Franklin Street.

'Being on the ground floor is great,' he said of the 6,000-square-foot space.

'This is an exciting place to be with lots of activity,' he said of the north end of downtown, also home to the Fly Bar & Restaurant since last summer.

The Arlington, which opened in late 2006 with a mix of offices and 21 upstairs condominiums, is listed as a highlight on the Tampa Downtown Partnership's Vision and Action Plan.

The plan was updated at a May 30 public meeting at Sam Rampello Downtown Partnership School. With 50 people in attendance, the discussion brought out the good and bad in downtown. A major sign of progress: 1,500 residential units are slated to open this year in seven condo projects in downtown and the Channel District.

'One thing we've learned from this two-year-old plan is Tampa doesn't sit still,' partnership President Christine Burdick said recently. 'This process really helps us to check in.'

Receiving the most flak at the meeting was the state of Herman Massey Park at Tyler and Franklin streets, down the block from the Arlington. To broad agreement, one person compared the chain-link fenced park to a war zone.

The park, with a decorative fountain, opened in 1987 to provide a shady spot for downtown workers but became a hangout for the homeless.

The park was closed in July 2005 and used as a construction staging area under an agreement with the developer of The Residences at Franklin Street, said Linda Carlo, the city's parks and recreation spokeswoman.

The park has been back in the city's hands since December but remains surrounded by the fence.

'We've kept it closed because we are going to redesign it to better suit the needs of residents who are moving into downtown,' Carlo said.

She said the city hopes to hire a designer.

The partnership's original 76-page plan, which was based on suggestions from public meetings and questionnaires, also concluded the long-vacant Floridan Hotel at Cass Street and Florida Avenue would be a good fit for affordable apartments.

Instead, the Floridan, which opened in the 1920s as the state's tallest building, has been bought by a developer who is restoring it into a condo and hotel complex.

That is 'very good for downtown,' Burdick said. 'It's being restored to its former grandeur.'


WHAT: The 21st annual meeting and luncheon of the Tampa Downtown Partnership

WHERE: Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, 700 S. Florida Ave.

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday

GUESTS: Mayor Pam Iorio and architect Stanley Saitowitz, designer of the new Tampa Museum of Art

INFORMATION AND TICKETS: Call Kimberly Finn at (813) 221-3686.

Reporter Janis D. Froelich can be reached at (813) 835-2104 or [email protected].

1,384 Posts
I think it is good for local businesses that things are slowing down. It would give businesses time to get downtown before the next wave hits.
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