HCC halts construction on Ybor campus extension

04/10/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Construction has stopped on an extension to Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City campus, after the school learned that the building’s 60-foot height exceeded city standards by 15 feet.

Ashley Carl, a spokesperson for HCC, says construction on the building has not yet acceded the height standard, but would if built as designed.

Patrick Mantiega is the editor and publisher of La Gaceta, the Ybor City based newspaper. In his weekly column, he’s blasted the school for trying to go outside the usual requirements for any business doing construction in the historic district.

The Student Service Center has already been a source of controversy. Because it’s a historic district, zoning requests go through a board known as the Barrio Latino Commission (BLC).

But HCC has ignored that review, angering Ybor City advocates, who recently went before the City Council to plead their case. Mayor Pam Iorio has agreed with the cchool and its president, Gwen Stephenson, that they can work outside what every other business in the district generally has to adhere to.

Carl says the college and the mayor are working on their own agreement.

Ybor City is one of only three National Historic Landmark Districts located in the State of Florida. That status,Mantiega says, is what makes it special. But the campus technically is outside the Landmark District, though just across the street from it. But he says the school is absolutely inside the local historic district.

Carl says the architect, HuntonBrady, is the responsible for the design mistake on student service center building, and they will be the ones who will take care of the problem. Carl said there is no timetable as to when the architect will produce their new construction design.

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Round one for the good guys.

HCC should be defending the integrity of Ybor, not trying to hasten it's demise. It is sad that an educational institution tries to use it's clout to undermine the culture it is supposed to protect. Oh, and it is no surprise Pam allowed this. Hey Pam, nice to see how your beloved "Riverwalk" is going. Have you ever considered that many of those "artists" you need to put Riverwalk on the map are veterans of Ybor's gutting, and that few of them will step out of Seminole Heights unless they see that you actually have respect for the arts, and the people who make them? Of course, all sorts of fake artists will flock to that geometric architectural mess that will be called "the New Tampa Museum of Art", it's not like those posers need actual art to work with. But you will not attract the people you will need to make Riverwalk anything but "Centro Ybor by the river." Meanwhile, the genuine architecture, the genuine art, is allowed to be threatened every day.