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Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
Letter of the Day

Tampa City Council must save Harbour Island

Published:

Harbour Island is in eminent danger of overdevelopment. Two new towers are planned on the last two vacant lots. Each will be 22 stories high, with the addition of 340 new units in one and 230 units in the other, totaling close to 600 additional units in the north corridor of the island.

To put that in perspective, let us review the facts on the ground: Harbour Island spans 177 acres. The two main communities are the south neighborhood and the north neighborhood, separated by the main road, Knights Run Avenue.

The south gated neighborhood occupies close to two-thirds of the total area of the island and consists of 600 residential units. It enjoys plenty of open space, landscaped with shade trees and four ponds.

The north neighborhood is a narrow corridor that occupies less than one-third of the island’s acreage. It already houses more than 1,800 residential units in mainly high-rise condominiums. A network of narrow private roads accesses the buildings.

The addition of 600 units to the north corridor challenges the sustainability of the island and raises the following concerns:

♦ Negative impact on available resources, including, but not limited to, drainage, sewage, traffic, parking, safety, evacuation in the event of hurricanes or fire, parking and environmental issues.

♦ The planned new buildings do not provide adequate open space. This would result in a lopsided, overbuilt and overpopulated north neighborhood.

♦ The planned new building on lot No. 401, Knights Run Avenue, is designed with its entrance on Harbour Post Drive, a narrow street shared with the entrance of another high-rise condominium, creating a situation of traffic accidents waiting to happen.

Tampa City Council can save the island by considering the following:

♦ Limiting the number of units proposed for the new towers, perhaps to a total not exceeding 150 units for each.

­♦ Mandating the provision of adequate “open space.”

♦ Ascertaining that enough parking is provided for the new residents and their guests.

­♦ Requesting that access to the new buildings not clash with the access to existing ones.

Now is the time for the city to save Harbour Island for future generations.

Ismail Kazem

Tampa

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