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South Tampa News

Tampa Jewish center requests rezoning for armory

Published:   |   Updated: April 23, 2013 at 09:28 PM
WEST TAMPA -

The Tampa Jewish Community Center and Federation is seeking a rezoning to accommodate its plans for the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.

The Tampa City Council on July 25 is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the request.

The JCC last year announced plans to pursue a 99-year lease with an option to buy the vacant armory building and about half of the surrounding site to provide a southern campus for its local operations. The organization has had a community center off Gunn Highway in Citrus Park for about 25 years.

The rezoning application recently was filed by the Armory Board of the State of Florida.

The National Guard moved many of its operations to Pinellas Park in 2005. But the guard plans to keep its maintenance operations on the northern half of the Tampa property at 522 N. Howard Ave. The Tampa site is about 10 acres.

The JCC is preparing a capital fundraising campaign for launch in the fall, said Jack Ross, executive director of Tampa Jewish Community Center. “We’re on our way,” he said.

The armory, a historical landmark, has been vacant more than seven years. The building was dedicated in 1941, one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Elvis Presley, The Doors and James Brown performed at the armory. It was a popular venue for wrestling. President Kennedy gave a speech there days before his assassination in Dallas.

The JCC plans to develop an events venue and a wellness center in the armory building.

The project also includes a preschool, a swimming pool, a children’s pool and splash pad, a kosher café, a theater for film and stage productions, and meeting rooms.

City officials and the JCC are drafting a lease to move the city’s Hyde Park Art Studio to the re-designed armory. The existing art studio, at 702 S. Albany Ave., is cramped and in disrepair.

In addition to its plans for the armory, Ross said, the JCC has offered to provide activities and programs for West Tampa residents at the nearby Vila Brothers Park, at 700 N. Armenia Ave. The park now “is essentially dormant,” he said. “We’re in discussions with the city.”


ksteele@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7652

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