TAMPA — The legend of Kennedy Boulevard being the great dividing line between Cool Tampa and the rest of the city may be fading.
The latest evidence? A residential boom appears imminent in North Hyde Park, a neighborhood of former warehouses and light industry just north of Kennedy that has been targeted for several new apartment, town home and mixed-use projects.
“There’s just a buzz of activity in the North Hyde Park area that we hope is continuing,” said Stefan McSweeney, a director with St. Petersburg-based Cardinal Point Management, which is proposing a mixed-use project at 301 N. Rome Ave. “For us, it’s a mix of the demographic of people that want to be in an infill location. It’s close to the highway (Interstate 275), close to downtown, close to South Tampa. We see that as good long-term potential for our project and a lot of other ones in the immediate area.”
The Cardinal Point project would have 23 town homes along North B and Fig streets and light retail facing Rome between those two streets. It joins a series of proposed and recently completed projects in the same strip.
Southport Financial Services has filed paperwork for a 90-unit apartment complex at 707 N. Rome Ave.
Construction continues on Lennar at West End Townhomes, with 39 units ultimately for sale along Oregon Avenue and Lemon Street.
Phase II of the recently completed NoHo Flats apartment complex between Gray and Fig streets will get underway this summer, with the 274-unit Havana Square apartments rising across Rome Avenue from NoHo Flats.
Those complexes join Vintage Lofts at West End, a seven-story complex with 528 units at Rome and Cypress Street that was built before the recession.
Though downtown Tampa, with the University of South Florida medical school relocation and developer Jeff Vinik’s megapresence, has received the lion’s share of attention in redevelopment circles, the city has been looking west.
It has established a West Tampa Community Redevelopment Area that includes North Hyde Park, a designation that earmarks future tax revenue from increased property values to improvements within the area. It has a West River Redevelopment Plan intended to diversify and economically integrate that area, and the city has allocated $8 million with an expected total pledge of $30 million for a dramatic revision of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.
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The city’s InVision plan, a 20-year blueprint for making downtown Tampa and its surrounding neighborhoods a community of livable places, describes the North Hyde Park area as “emerging as a new opportunity for significant transformation.”
“I think the real estate community was paying attention,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “I think they realized that this was an opportunity to create a livable, walkable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood with retail and residential. It’s an established neighborhood, it’s within walking distance of downtown, and it’s got great view corridors. I think the market was following the city in this case and realizing this was a neighborhood that offered a lot of potential.”
Anthony Everett, director for central Florida for Pollack Shores Real Estate Group, said Kennedy Boulevard no longer is the symbolic barrier it once was. The original Hyde Park and south-of-Howard Avenue, or “SoHo,” neighborhoods remain among the city’s elite addresses, but skyrocketing home and land costs are pushing development north, he said.
“I think that line has now moved to (Interstate) 275,” said Everett, whose Atlanta-based company breaks ground this summer on the Havana Square project. “I think that barrier has now been broken, and I think the natural path of development and just the need for housing broke that.”
Another key development driver in the North Hyde Park area is Tampa General Hospital, which is in the final planning stages for a satellite facility on the site of the former Ferman auto dealership in the 1300 block of Kennedy. That four-story facility, including an urgent care center, clinical diagnostics lab with full imaging services, ambulatory surgery capability, a pharmacy, procedure rooms and two floors of physician offices, is expected to be home to several hundred medical personnel, said Michael Gorsage, TGH’s senior vice president for strategic services and business development.
Meanwhile, the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center is emerging from the old Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory on the neighborhood’s western border. It will include a preschool, recreational amenities, health and wellness services and art space.
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The city may have acknowledged the potential of North Hyde Park, but neighborhood groups say the area needs more than just words in a master plan.
Ben Buckley, head of the North Hyde Park Civic Association, said city codes adopted in automobile-centric post-World War II Tampa are an impediment to creating a live-work-play environment.
He and Rob Dubsky, past president of the New Hyde Park Alliance business group, point out the lack of sidewalks and streetlights and severe flooding issues along Cass Street, which has been identified as a key segment of the city’s “Green Spine” car-bike-pedestrian route from the Glazer Family JCC to Cuscaden Park.
Buckley and Dubsky are pushing for a city planner to assume a role similar to that of Jeff Speck, a renowned urban planner hired by Vinik to marshal the Tampa Bay Lightning owner’s plan to develop the downtown core.
“We need an orchestra leader, if you will. We need somebody to work with all the different departments in the city, all the neighborhood associations, the city council, all the codes. Everything has to be re-thought, and there needs to be one person that understands this new concept.”
Dubsky said he was thwarted from opening a North Hyde Park retail shop because of antiquated parking requirements. His target customer base would have been pedestrians in the bustling Rome Avenue residential stretch.
He remains sold on the area and holds three properties within North Hyde Park.
“I knew that the area would change. Well, lo and behold, it has,” Dubsky said. “You’ve got millions being pumped into that Julian B. Lane park, you’ve got Tampa General Hospital coming around this summer on the old Ferman lot, the University of Tampa on the southeast side just blowing up, and on the west side, the Jewish Community Center coming.
“It’s surrounded by ‘happening,’ ” he said. “It’s a no-brainer.”