Tampa Heights Riverfront development one step closer to reality
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11/21/13 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Tampa City Council, Charlie Miranda, Tampa Heights, Trolley Barn

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Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda - WMNF file photo


photo by Kate Bradshaw

A proposed development on the Tampa Heights neighborhood riverfront is one step closer to becoming a thriving community. During a meeting Thursday, Tampa City Council members approved zoning changes and road closures around the old Trolly Barn that pave the way for homes, retail and a hotel.

The proposed development would include 2,000 residences and more than 300,000 feet of retail an office space intended for smaller niche stores like those in Seminole Heights instead of big box giants. It would also include a grocery store in an area some see as a food desert. But at issue Thursday was whether or not to approve an alcohol permit for the shuttered Armature Works building, also known as the Trolly Barn. Lena Young-Green, an Ybor-area community activist, was one of three members of the public to speak in favor of approving a 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m. alcohol permit.

“We had our board meeting since the last hearing and also spoke with the chair of our CAC for the CRA and we all agree that we would like to see that the alcohol coverage for this area remain as broad as possible to encourage as many activities at this venue as could possibly occur and revitalize that entire area.”

No one from the public spoke against extending the alcohol permit for the building intended to be a hotel and city council voted unanimously to carry the issue to a second reading.

“But we’re also rolling the dice. What happens if we give all these alcohol licenses and the hotel doesn’t come. Anything can come there. They’ve the ground license. You see, alcohol zoning is the only type of zoning that can never be taken away unless you commit a crime and even then, it’s very difficult to move.”

That’s city council chair Charlie Miranda. He got into a bit of back and forth with city attorney Catherine Coyle over whether or not the city would get what it bargained for if the alcohol permit is approved.

“So, you can build a one bedroom hotel? That’s not – am I right or am I wrong? A bed and breakfast could be a hotel …

“A Bed and Breakfast is not a hotel.”

“I understand that, but what is the definition of a hotel?”

“A hotel is a transient use with multiple rooms licensed by the state.”

“Multiple rooms, what does that mean? What does that mean, multiple rooms? Two? Five? Four? I don’t know.”

“It has to also be licensed by the state…”

“I understand that, and anything is possible in life.”

Also at issue is an ongoing debate on how the city gives alcohol permits. They are considering rolling back bar closing times from 3:00 a.m. to midnight, but offering a business permit with several rules attached to it to negate the change. As it stands, the future hotel would be subject to the 3:00 a.m. closing time without a business permit, but that could change if council approves the new rules.

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