Middleton Magnet High School students recently put their classroom knowledge and skills to the test in the real world of urban planning and redevelopment.
They focused on a largely vacant lot on Hillsborough Avenue and created two projects that envision affordable apartments, shops, a park, a community center, a parking garage, offices and a green roof with shrubs and trees.
This week about a dozen students presented their ideas to Mayor Bob Buckhorn at a community workshop on how to improve the Nebraska Avenue corridor.
“We wanted to give back to the community and give something of value,” said Charity Sojourner Franks.
Franks was among the Middleton High students recruited more than a month ago to come up with development proposals for an approximately 4-acre city block bordered by Hillsborough, 17th and 19th streets, and Giddens Avenue.
They received hands-on guidance from Middleton teachers, professional planners with AECOM and Tampa officials who are creating a blueprint for Tampa’s future. Tuesday’s workshop was one of many planned for InVision Tampa, an ambitious, unfunded project meant to re-invent the downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods.
A redesign of Nebraska and Hillsborough avenues is among improvements being considered for the master plan.
“It really was good,” said Buckhorn of the students’ plans. “I wouldn’t mind doing this on everything we do. It might not work every time, but I like getting the perspective of folks who will inherit this (city).”
It is important that students have more opportunities such as this one, said Middleton Principal Owen Young. “It gives our kids real-life applications,” he said.