CRA DESIGNATION FOR 4 TAMPA NEIGHBORHOODS-Andrew Stelzer

05/20/04

In an effort to provide improvements in some of Tampa’s lower income neighborhoods, the city council today created 4 Community Revitalization Areas, or CRA’s. WMNF’s Andrew Stelzer was at city hall and filed this report. --------

Once an area is designated a CRA, a greater percentage of the taxes paid by that area’s residents will go back into that neighborhood for its needs. Although the council was considering four Community redevelopment Areas, they spent the majority of their time discussing two of them. First was East Tampa, an area for which the planning process has been taking place for much of the last year. The largely African American neighborhood was one a thriving business and residential area, but the lack of investment and infrastructure over the years have resulted in increased crime, poor roads, not enough sidewalks, and numerous building violations on homes and businesses. The designated borders for the East Tampa CRA are I-275 to the west, Henry avenue to the north, I-4 to the south, and 56th street to the east.

Samuel Kinsley is the chairperson of the East Tampa Community revitalization partnership.

ACT “By any measure you use, east Tampa is in bad shape and needs help…east Tampa is in great need of your support..those of us in the community will be watching very closely..and they wont allow these funds to be spent, we’ve been short changed for too many years..�

Council member White said that East Tampa residents should not worry about their money coming back into the neighborhood.

ACT “This money to be used for east Tampa and Tampa only…�

Tony Daniels an East Tampa resident, brought up the point that often when the redevelopment of black communities happens, it ends up gentrifying the neighborhood, making it too expensive for black people to continue to live there. He does not want that to happen to East Tampa.

ACT “All you have here is civitas here all over again�

Connie Burton, another east Tampa resident who also hosts a WMNF program “straight talk�, voiced her concerns about the empty promises of redevelopment that don’t end up benefiting the black community. She used the example of a house in east Tampa that’s currently being renovated.

ACT “We saw what the census tract laid out…one address…�

Council member White reassured Ms Burton, and added that a tour she had recently given him of Robles Park had been helpful for him to understand the need for jobs among the residents.

ACT “We can’t revitalize any part of Tampa without creating jobs..it seems that solid waste..not just the city we talking about some pilot projects that will allow young men and women, not just youth�

The second CRA up for approval was the channel district, bordered by Meridan avenue to the west, the Lee Roy Selmon expressway to the north, and the Ybor channel to the south and east. For over 20 years, there have been plans to make this largely industrial area into a place where people can live, work and shop. Now with commitments by some builders to put up condominiums, and the aquarium finding greater success, the council is hoping that the CRA designation will help attract thousands of people to move to the channel district, which can then connect downtown to Ybor City.

In his presentation to the city, Michael English, representing the planning committee, told the city that in redeveloping the channel district there is a tremendous need for basic infrastructure, such as paved streets, and better sewers.

ACT “A detailed analysis of the infrastructure…cruise ships…greater than the entire central business district were in the middle of inviting thousands of people to live there.�

When council member Alvarez asked where the city is going to get the money to finance the needed infrastructure, she was told by Mark Huey, the city’s economic development administrator that they should just establish the CRA and the money would be found later. After some of the council members suggested that the developers should pay for infrastructure, Barry Karpay, a home developer with West field Homes told the council that if its left to developers, it will be done cheaply and inefficiently.

ACT “There are guidelines the channel district has set up…the carts before the horse…if the infrastructure is turned over to the developers…..�

Karpay said forcing the developers to put in infrastructure will also increase the prices they charge for the housing they build. Potential apartments in the channel district are already priced at between 185 and 850 thousand dollars. Michael English from the planning commission acknowledged that the blueprints for the new district have no plans for affordable housing, which is usually a defining feature of a “blighted� neighborhood.

ACT “In the channel district most of the new housing will be quite expensive, it’s important…�

And two other citizens accused the council of fraud, claiming that a map on the grant application submitted by the council in relation to the channel district was changed after it was approved by council.

The Drew park area was also approved as a CRA; Drew Park is a neighborhood with about 2000 residents, the borders are Hesperides street in the west, Hillsborough to the north, Dale Mabry to the east, and Tampa Bay Boulevard to the south. The neighborhood is said to have an increasing crime rate, and garbage frequently all over the street.

The fourth and last CRA area that gained the councils approval was the Ybor II district. Ybor city is already a CRA, the Ybor II district consists of two areas, to the Northwest and Southeast of the heart of Ybor. Although the area is not a standard shapes, the borders of one area are roughly Nebraska Avenue, 1-4, palm avenue, and 15th street. The second areas borders are roughly Nuccio parkway, I-4, Adamo drive, and 26th street. Geraldine William Smith is president of the east Ybor historic civic association; she said the area has to begin by receiving some very basic needs.

ACT “We’ve never had any kind of play area, but our sidewalks stop…�

The council approved all 4 districts, meaning they agree that there are enough problems to consider the areas “blighted�. Next the council will have to consider what needs to be done, and how to pay for all the improvements.

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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