The neighborhood now consists of several public housing complexes, older homes and is situated along the Hillsborough River. Many of the residents are low income African American. The president of Urban Strategies, Sandra Moore is a consultant on how to best transform the community.
Residents will be at the forefront of the decision making process. For a community, a developing community, a housing authority and the City to commit to, that is a big deal.
The lead urban planner on the project is a company called AECOM. Peter Sechler is a designer and planner for the company. He says his goal is to unify downtown and the neighborhood across the river.
”So this is really about developing a neighborhood that is physically connected, and physically stitched into its surroundings, so that there is a mutual benefit between the investment here and investment thats happening around us in the form of people reinvesting in their homes and reinvesting in their businesses.”
The Tampa housing authority owns housing projects in the area and its president and CEO, Jerome Ryans says that with funding from Congress, the community could be improved.
”I think its also important to realize that real change is not going to happen over night. Its not imminent, we dont have any money at this time to do it, but I think you got to have a plan, you have to have a starting point, and the mayor is absolutely right, but we have been partners for a while and we believe that we will make it happen, we will get it done.”
Sandra Moore, the consultant, says that transparency and partnering with the residents is a core principle of the redevelopment. She calls is a human capital plan.
”We have got to get parents and caregivers working in this community. We can tear down the buildings, we can rebuild it, but if we bring back all of the families who are living with subsidy without having them transitioned to a working position, part time, full time, within the scope and range of their abilities, this will not work.”
She also says its important to keep the community, including children, families and seniors involved.
”Seniors aging in place, you got a senior building there, you can not tear it down and not have a really logical and implementable plan for whats going to happen to those seniors.”
“Community policing, hot spotting, resident engagement committees around safety, youth interventions- all of those things, but it is from inside of the community, not out.”
InVision Tampa, the Tampa Housing Authority and urban developers will share their master plan and accept feedback from the community at an open house this evening at 6:00 pm at Blake High School.