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Monday, Sep 22, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Bayshore has no condo minimum

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Published:   |   Updated: June 4, 2014 at 07:27 AM

“The good news,” said the former Tampa city councilperson 20-odd years ago, “is that there won't be any more condos going up on the Bayshore. We've seen to that.”

Right. We were looking at the Bayshore from a yacht several hundred yards offshore on some PR cruise full of press and politicians.

That was a handful of condos ago.

This week we learned that a lot at Bayshore and Bay to Bay boulevards will be fenced so construction can begin on another one. This job is a 15-story tower called Aquatica, a glass-and-steel structure that would look pretty good ... if it were going up in downtown Tampa among similar buildings.

It has been a long time since the developers bought the land, and you almost hoped they might have gone broke or maybe left town. The lot became a place to park for those who use the Bayshore for recreation. The Bayshore Patriots have been gathering at the space every Friday since 9/11 to wave flags and show support for the troops. It's a gathering place that will be missed. But then, that's progress.

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Dr. Beach, the guy who annually selects the top 10 beaches in the world, isn't going to put Beer Can Beach on Gandy Boulevard on his list. Nobody ever is going to confuse the dirt road that runs along the mangroves for Clearwater Beach or any other sandy beach lined with resorts and condos.

For decades the strip has been more for those who like hanging out with beer and lighting bonfires, or maybe taking the dogs for a swim. It hasn't been the easiest place for law enforcement to patrol, and its risky reputation is well-deserved.

But it also has a certain cache that says freedom, a feeling that we can hang out, with no parking meters, keep-out signs or other restrictions.

That's changing now as the Department of Transportation is putting up signs with more no's than the Rays' offense. You can't even bring beer to Beer Can Beach.

You can understand the need for rules, but now it's just one more spot with too many rules; where hanging out has its limits.

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You had to be a little excited by the announcement that the federal government is pumping $4.8 million into the high-speed ferry project that will link South Hillsborough County with downtown Tampa, MacDill and Pinellas County.

About the only concern is that the governor will tell the government to send that ferry money to Kansas.

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Finally, if there's one thing we're good at, it's showing visitors a good time.

We proved it when the Republicans came to town and we sealed off the city for them.

We did it again six weeks ago when Bollywood rolled in for one of the more interesting events of the year.

This week we might have gone a little overboard with the firehoses that were sent out to create a wet welcome for a Japanese airline bringing a soccer team to town in one of those new Dreamliners.

Apparently, one of the hoses clipped a wing of the new jet and, once again, Tampa was in the international spotlight.

Next time just give them cigars or some guava jelly.

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