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New Master Plan Starts For Downtown Tampa

A new blueprint for downtown Tampa development for the next 20 years is in the works.

The City of Tampa will soon begin contract negotiations on a $1.43 million master plan and primary transit corridor plan targeting present and future development for Tampa's urban core. One of the plan's focuses will be guiding future growth.

“There has never been a comprehensive study of the downtown area that's looked at connectivity between major projects, design guidelines, amenities, funding strategies, zoning and land use and growth strategies,” says Bob McDonaugh, the city's economic and urban development director, who will be spearheading the project. “The plan will take a holistic approach to all of the various disciplines and future requirements, tying them together into one study.”

The study area for the Downtown Area Conceptual Master Plan is generally within two miles of the center of downtown Tampa. The study for the transit corridor master plan is generally an area along Nebraska Avenue from downtown Tampa to Hillsborough Avenue; then east along Hillsborough to 22nd Street, extending about one-third of a mile from each side. As the project gets underway, study boundaries will be more specifically defined.

“There has never been as much interest in living and working in Tampa as there is right now,” says McDonaugh. “It is important that we have a sustainable plan to guide us through this growth period and into our future.”

According to McDonaugh, it's the expectation of those involved that the Hillsborough River will become the center of the urban core -- instead of the western city boundary -- as the city continues to grow.

AECOM, a professional technical and management support services firm specializing in providing transportation, planning, environmental, energy, water and government services, was chosen by a panel to design both plans for the city. AECOM was one of 10 firms that responded to the city's request for qualifications.

"The panel was impressed by the breadth of experience that they demonstrated and the in-house expertise that they have in a variety of disciplines," says McDonaugh.

Funding for the $1.43 million project will come from a $1.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and $125,000 from the City of Tampa; an additional $125,000 will come as in-kind support.

City staff plans to bring a contract to the Tampa City Council for approval in January 2012. Slated to formally begin in February 2012, the project will be designed to provide opportunities for residents to get involved in the development process during the 18 to 24 months it will take to complete.

“Public outreach will be an important part of the process as the citizens of Tampa will be engaged throughout, their vision for our city becoming an ingredient of this plan. Public meetings will be a cornerstone of the process,” says McDonaugh. “This is a very exciting time in Tampa. I was a student at the University of Tampa in the early 1970s and have witnessed the growth and change in our downtown during the last 30 to 40 years. The changes in the last five have been the most dramatic that I've seen and I can't wait to see the next five.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Bob McDonaugh, City of Tampa
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