TAMPA — City officials have hired a Denver landscape architecture firm to lead the redevelopment of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park on the west bank of the Hillsborough River.
Civitas Inc.’s first step toward renovation — listening to the public — will start soon after the first of the year, said James Jackson, Tampa’s city architect.
“The first piece is a five- to six-month journey,” Jackson said. “We should have a master plan by spring and recommendations for the first steps in the redesign.”
Redesign could start next summer, Jackson said.
Tampa City Council approved the $708,000 contract last week, but not without some reservations.
Councilwoman Lisa Montelione pointed out the cost of the contract would cover nearly half the cost of renovating and reopening Cuscaden Pool in East Tampa. The historic pool has been closed since it sprung a leak in 2010 following a $3 million renovation. City council members want it back up and running.
Despite that, council members approved the Civitas contract 7-0. The money will come from the city’s Community Investment Tax funds.
The total park renovation will cost about $8 million, said Bob McDonaugh, the city’s economic development chief.
The contract approved last week covers the cost of holding several gatherings to pick the brains of West Tampa residents regarding the future of the park.
“One of the concerns raised early on in the process was to make sure there was plenty of opportunity for public input,” McDonaugh said.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn has put the park on his to-do list for transforming the west bank of the Hillsborough River between Interstate 275 and Columbus Drive. It’s part of his InVision plan for revitalizing downtown on both sides of the river.
The 40-year-old park’s design includes several man-made earthen mounds, including one that contains an amphitheater.
Buckhorn has said those mounds need to go. He’d like to see new rowing features and possibly a restaurant for the park, which has views of downtown’s towers, several of the city’s bridges and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Buckhorn also wants to realign Laurel Street to open access to several acres between Laurel Street and I-275.
When Buckhorn put out a call for proposals last March, residents of the neighborhood demanded that they be included in the planning process regarding the park.
McDonaugh said that’s what Civitas plans to do under its contract. If the cost is higher than usual, that’s because of the amount of public input Civitas plans to seek, he said.
“Before they even put a pencil to paper, they’re collecting data,” he said. “One of the things that makes it more expensive is that it has a lot of public involvement.”
McDonaugh said the city chose Civitas over other companies because of its commitment to seeking public input and because of its experience working on riverfronts.
Civitas is currently working on a plan to bring life back to the concrete-lined Los Angeles River, among other projects. It will work with a variety of Tampa companies on the Riverfront Park redevelopment.