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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
Central Tampa News

Four redevelopment plans proposed for West Tampa neighborhood

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WEST TAMPA — Tampa housing officials are discussing the future of a 44-acre site of North Boulevard Homes, an aging public housing complex that is slated for demolition and redevelopment.

The Tampa Housing Authority also is looking at how the property plans might fit within a broader plan to redevelop portions of West Tampa and Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. Those efforts dovetail with an even grander scheme, known as InVision Tampa, which Mayor Bob Buckhorn is promoting to re-invigorate downtown Tampa and surrounding neighborhoods.

On Tuesday housing authority officials will present four redevelopment scenarios at a meeting of the Hillsborough County School Board.

The proposals generally aim for greater public access to the Hillsborough River. One deals only with the housing authority’s project to replace North Boulevard Homes with a mixed-income, mixed-use community and excludes any city or county properties. Two entail moving ball fields including those at Stewart Middle School.

A fourth option calls for tearing down and relocating Stewart Middle and Just elementary schools. The new locations would be about one block south of Main Street and one block closer to Blake High School. Ball fields also would be moved.

Blake and Dunbar Elementary schools would remain at their existing locations.

The intent would be to create an “education corridor,” said Leroy Moore, the housing authority’s chief operating officer. “You have a sense of a campus,” he said.

Tuesday’s presentation will be the first time school board members formally have seen the proposal, said Cathy Valdes, the school district’s chief facilities manager.

“There are a lot of things to discuss,” she said.

The housing authority doesn’t have a preferred option among the four scenarios, Moore said. It is a process of narrowing down choices to reach a final plan, he said.

A series of InVision Tampa workshops were held at Blake to get residents’ thoughts on what they want to see happen in the West Tampa river area. “InVision Tampa is the impetus for what we are refining,” Moore said. “It’s growing out of that process.”

Costs have not been determined. And, Moore said, “Nobody has money to do anything.”

If the schools were relocated, Valdes said their demolition and reconstruction could take up to two years and cost $50 million.

Valdes said: “Any plan they propose would have to be cost neutral to the school district.”

Housing authority officials next year expect to apply for a federal grant to cover cost of moving about 1,800 residents from North Boulevard Homes and building infrastructure, such as utilities and sewer lines, for new development on the site.

Reaching agreement on a vision and securing design and construction dollars will take teamwork and collaboration from city, county and housing authority entities, Moore said. “They (school board) are a key partner,” he said. “With a good plan ... with political will, we’ll find opportunities (for funds) to come in the future.”

ksteele@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7652

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