After a year-long study, the Westshore Alliance has unveiled its master plan for the growing West Shore business district.
The plan, developed by the University of South Florida’s Florida Center for Community Design and Research, provides a framework to make the West Shore district more pedestrian-friendly as new businesses and residents move to the area.
The economy is improving and local officials are talking about turning the area into an even larger hub, said Ron Rotella, executive director of the alliance. With all the projected growth, he said, now is the time to plan for the expansion of the state’s largest business district.
“You really need a master plan to talk about how it evolves,” Rotella said.
Wider sidewalks, pedestrian bridges, public event space and landscaping are among components outlined in the plan.
The West Shore area stretches about 10 square miles, and is bordered by Kennedy Boulevard the south, Hillsborough Avenue to the north, Tampa Bay to the west and Himes Avenue to the east. It is home to two shopping malls, Tampa International Airport, Raymond James Stadium and about 4,000 other businesses.
The Westshore Alliance, a business group representing various companies in the district, jointly funded the $62,000 study with Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa.
Trent Green, an associate professor at the University of South Florida, presented the plan for the district at two public meetings Wednesday. He showed renderings of pedestrian bridges over major intersections, wider sidewalks and crosswalks, and added benches and bike racks.
The West Shore area is unique because it is both a commercial and residential neighborhood, he said. The plan is to make the area more appealing and convenient for everyone.
“This is a trend nationwide,” Green said. “The suburbs are growing up; they’re maturing.”
Rotella said feedback the alliance has heard so far about the plan has been positive. He said the group met both with businesses and nearby neighborhood associations throughout the study to gauge their opinions.
He said the plan is not completed and will continue to change over time, taking into account new growth, the widening of Interstate 275 and possible mass transit facilities.
“This is a concept that needs to be further refined,” Rotella said at one of the meetings. “But I think it’s a great one.”