WEST TAMPA - A developer's effort to be reimbursed for cleanup costs at the former site of the West Tampa Convention Center has crossed an initial hurdle.
A meeting took place July 12 at which residents could ask about the land's onetime use as a city dump. The Tampa City Council next will get involved, holding two meetings - likely in August and September - about the site's former use as a landfill.
A "brownfield" designation for the site, at 3005 W. Columbus Drive, would allow developers to apply for state tax incentives for partial reimbursement of cleanup costs. There also could be bonuses because the planned use of the site - a Dollar General store - will produce jobs.
The convention center building was torn down in April.
Much of the cleanup, including removal of old dump materials and partial installation of wells to monitor for methane gas, already has happened. Additional wells will be installed, and they will be monitored for at least a year, said environmental consultant Robert Stephens of ATMAB Inc.
Cleanup crews found "concrete, rubble and odds and ends," Stephens said. Materials were removed and the area back-filled with clean dirt, he said.
Dollar General officials initially predicted a late fall opening. Stephens now says the store will open in August. "It is imminent," he said.
The property is one of 49 known former dump sites in Tampa. Some were operated by the city but others had private landowners who gave permission to bury trash and debris on their properties.
Many have been paved over or were redeveloped as shops or apartments. Uncle Bob's Self-Storage and CVS Pharmacy, nearby on Columbus, were built on old landfills, Stephens said.
Much of the development along Boy Scout Boulevard also was atop dumps, he said.
If approved, the former convention center location would be the city's 27th designated brownfield.
"This is a program to facilitate cleanup and promote economic development," said Dan Fahey, a city engineer who supervises the city's brownfield program.
The convention center was built in the 1970s after the dump closed. It was a gathering place for about four decades on what is known as "Boliche Boulevard," a commercial district of Latin businesses and restaurants along Columbus Drive.
Centro Espanol de Tampa, which bought the property in 1987, was founded more than 120 years ago in Ybor City as the first mutual aid society to offer recreation, education and health-care services to workers in the fledgling cigar industry. Board members decided to sell the property because the society could not afford an estimated $2 million in repair costs.