This week we chat with Donna Chen, who in April became the spokeswoman for the Tampa Downtown Partnership, an organization that promotes the downtown community.
Q: What big projects are coming to downtown this year?
A: It's hard to keep track of all the downtown projects under way! Those include the completion of the Riverwalk, the two hotel projects (the federal courthouse and Aloft), the UT Residence Hall, the Related Development 356-unit multifamily project, Circle Bayshore 367-unit apartment building, and the Encore 40-plus-acre mixed use project.
Q: The partnership is involved with what new events and projects this year?
A: The Downtown Partnership is completing our biennial downtown worker and resident survey. This will be our third study (results to be released this quarter). The first two helped guide downtown initiatives such as river accessibility, the outdoor market, museums, streetcar line extension, reopening of Curtis Hixon Park and more. Once completed, we will conduct a brand review and refresh for both our organization and how we market the downtown.
As part of our 2020 Strategic Initiatives, the Partnership will work to stimulate retail. Downtown retail, generally speaking, is not definable anymore. We will be working to determine what meets the downtown population demand, and study what is a viable retail business for an urban setting. We are currently working on cutting edge concepts that will bring a cool factor to the downtown in a big way. Stay tuned!
Q: What do you think downtown Tampa will look like in 10 years?
A: In the past decade, downtown has seen significant growth in cultural attractions, special events and residential. In the next 10 years, all three will continue to grow, as will urban retail. I expect we'll have a grocery store, another high-rise office building and who knows, maybe even light rail by then.
Q: What things are still needed to make downtown more vibrant?
A: A good circulator moving people around the downtown is critical to downtown's vibrancy. The Partnership has been a proponent of moving the transportation investment conversation forward, and will continue to do so.
Q: The Partnership recently scheduled a Zumba walk (postponed due to weather). What would it take to get you to dance through the city's streets?
A: Risking redundancy, I will say that you will see me dancing through the streets when we get some good downtown circulation. And of course I will dance in the streets sooner, when we reschedule our Do the Local Motion Dance-Walk. Although, I'm one who never needs an excuse to dance!