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Richard Danielson
By Richard Danielson November 27, 2012

City unveils ‘InVision Tampa’ plan for center city

During his campaign, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn promised to create a master plan that would knit together downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods, with a focus on bringing activity and development to the Hillsborough River.

On Nov. 27, 2012, Buckhorn unveiled the InVision Tampa plan, which had been in the works for more than a year.

The city originally won a $1.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in October 2010 for a corridor study along Nebraska Avenue in anticipation of high-speed rail coming to Tampa. Then Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected high-speed rail funds.

Buckhorn's administration got HUD's permission to expand the scope of the grant to look at the entire downtown core. The project's budget was $1.43 million — the original $1.18 million federal grant, plus a $125,000 city match and $125,000 in in-kind support.

In November 2011, the city announced that it had hired AECOM, a Fortune 500 consulting firm based in Los Angeles, to work with the city on the project.

The formal launch of the InVision Tampa project came in April 2012. The city and AECOM gathered ideas and suggestions from more than 800 residents, businesses, property owners and others through a series of large public forums and neighborhood workshops. More than 1,000 people submitted online comments through social media and virtual town hall meetings.

The resulting plan is built around this vision: "a community of livable places, connected people and collaborative progress that embraces and celebrates its river and waterfront.”

The plan outlines five "building blocks” aimed at reimagining and refocusing activity along the Hillsborough River, creating livable neighborhoods in what the plan calls the "center city,” improving links between downtown and nearby neighborhoods, improving the environment for pedestrians and creating urban patterns that support transit.

It also identifies 10 "forward moves” -- initial steps the city can take in support of the vision and building blocks. For example, one of the moves would take Tampa Street and Florida Avenue -- now one-way streets dedicated mainly to moving commuters into and out of downtown quickly -- and remake them as local, two-way streets. With lower speed limits and on-street parking, the streets would be friendlier to pedestrians, have more of a neighborhood feel and thus be more welcoming to shops and other small businesses, planners say.

Another of the moves proposes creating a east-west "green spine” -- a walkable and bikable multi-purpose trail that could run generally from the V.M. Ybor neighborhood, down Nuccio Parkway, through downtown, over the river, past the University of Tampa and out to West Tampa.

As a candidate, Buckhorn promised a plan to guide the growth of downtown and as mayor, he has delivered the kind of blueprint he talked about. We rate this Promise Kept.

Our Sources

Richard Danielson
By Richard Danielson July 8, 2011

Federal grant to pay for consultant to work on plan

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says a $1.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help make his downtown master plan a reality.

The city originally won the federal grant in October 2010 for a corridor study along Nebraska Avenue in anticipation of high-speed rail coming to Tampa. Then Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected high-speed rail funds.\

"With the demise of the rail, we asked HUD to allow us to expand it, so we can look at the entire downtown core," including the area within 2 miles of downtown, Buckhorn said. The plan also is to include recommendations to promote transit-oriented development and an update of city development regulations.

"It came back to us with the okay to do it, so now we"re putting a (request for proposals) on the street for a consultant," Buckhorn said, "and that allow us to create the master plan."

We"ll wait to see more, but for now we rate this promise In the Works.

Our Sources

Buckhorn for Mayor, Economic plan, accessed July 8, 2011

City of Tampa memo received via e-mail from Thomas Snelling, the city"s acting director of growth management and development services, June 21, 2011

Interviews with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, June 21, 2011 and July 5, 2011

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