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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Politics

Tampa affirms ‘yes’ vote on Harbour Island parking bridge

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Published:   |   Updated: July 31, 2014 at 05:54 PM

— The Tampa City Council declined to reopen debate on an elevated walkway — a skybridge — it approved last month as part of a new residential tower planned for Harbour Island.

The bridge over Harbour Island Place would link a 21-story, 340-unit tower proposed by South Florida-based Related Group at 402 Knights Run Ave. with a parking garage across the street.

The tower is one of two proposed for Harbour Island and one of five on the drawing board for the city’s urban core during the next few years.

Related Group developed the Pierhouse residential project in the Channel District.

Council members approved an easement to allow construction of the proposed Harbour Island pedestrian bridge on June 26. That proposal passed 4-1 with Councilman Frank in dissent. Council members Yvonne Yolie Capin and Mary Mulhern were absent from the vote.

A few weeks later, residents of the nearby Plaza Harbour Island and ParkCrest Harbour Island condominium developments urged the council to reconsider its vote.

On Thursday, opponents urged the city to force the developers to put their parking within their proposed building as many other developers have done. They said the bridge represented special treatment.

“I think you need to reconsider the bridge,” Bill Queenan said. “It doesn’t need to be that way. They can park in-house in their own building.”

Related Group president Steve Patterson told the council his company was trying to make better use of the 800-unit parking garage that sits empty at night. Adding 600 new spaces to accommodate the new tower’s residents would invite more traffic onto the island, he said.

Patterson said the proposal has gone through four months of city review.

“They have looked under every stone,” he said.

Related Group officials agreed during that review to leave the development’s branding off the walkway — a cosmetic issue that cropped up after the developer submitted a rendering of the walkway.

John Grandoff, attorney for the residents opposed to the bridge, asked the council two weeks ago to reconsider the easement it granted the developers to build over the road.

He made his case again Thursday, asking council members to reopen debate on the bridge at an upcoming meeting. He argued that the skybridge decision was premature, though the project meets the city’s zoning rules and local standards for Harbour Island.

Under the council’s rules, one of the four members who supported the skybridge easement had to ask for it to be reconsidered. When Council Chairman Charlie Miranda asked his colleagues if anyone wanted to reconsider the June 26 decision, no one spoke.

Council members and city officials spoke very carefully during their discussions about the skybridge. Both Miranda and City Attorney Julia Mandell reminded hinted that the case may end up in court.

Grandoff said later he and his clients were “evaluating several avenues of appeal” of Thursday’s council decision or previous ones involving the same project.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, council members:

♦ Delayed until Sept. 18 a hearing to decide whether the city should revoke the alcohol permit for Coyote Ugly Saloon in Ybor City. The revocation hearing was prompted by police reports that the bar’s weekend crowds exceeded the number that requires the bar to hire off-duty law enforcement officers to handle security.

♦ Delayed until Sept. 4 a review of parking waivers and valet leases in the SoHo entertainment district along South Howard Avenue. The lack of public parking on weekends has led bar owners and valet companies to contract with many other business owners to use their spaces during their off-hours. Those contracts sometimes violate city parking rules.

♦ Denied a request by the owners of SoHo Backyard, 610 S. Armenia Ave., to extend its operating hours to 3 a.m. Council members approved a 2 a.m. closing in May. Nearby residents objected on Thursday that the extra time would erode the quality of life for the bar’s neighbors.

kwiatrowski@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7871

Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO

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