Tampa Housing Authority's Encore project ahead of schedule
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10/26/11 Sarah Curran
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

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The area was home to Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles. The twist has its Roots there. Now The Tampa Housing Authority and The US Department of Housing and Urban Development are bringing new life into what was known as Central Park Village in Downtown Tampa. Today, the city gave a tour of the development that is 5 months ahead of schedule with more than 95 percent of the infrastructure completed.

“It consists of about 1500 units. Half of them are markets units half of them are affordable. It has a commercial component. We are gonna build a hotel, we are gonna build a grocery store. It has a plant over here which will heat and cool the place. It's a brand new community within a community”

Encore President and CEO Jerome Ryans says the development will act as a bridge between main hubs in the Tampa Bay area.

“We got downtown to the west and you got Channel side to south and you got Ybor city to the east and we are the connector. We are gonna bring all of this together, this is gonna be the focal point of downtown.”

Despite economic troubles the city has managed to incorporate sustainable and green designs. The development will include a storm water management system on site, street lights run with solar power, renewable energy for three main structures. Almost 9,000 jobs will be created by the project. HUD assistant secretary Mercedes Marquez says Tampa is on the cutting edge of innovative public housing.

“To get an approval on Encore, 28 acres so close to the downtown. To honor its African American roots, its just beautiful to see. I look forward to coming back when its all done and welcoming families to there new home.”

Construction has already begun on housing for seniors. Officials estimate 15 months of construction before the building is complete. They say work on the next building – for low-income and affordable public housing - will start within the next six months.

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