Hope for downtown’s biggest eyesore

We’ve heard some very welcome news.The long-stalled Strand building project at 1100 Cleveland has apparently been resurrected. The owners have received a $22 million loan to complete the development after sitting untouched for years.

Not only will this remove downtown’s biggest visual blight (well, other than the Harborview and its “gray field”), it will add another 132 apartments to our downtown neighborhood.

In our view, apartments are what we need the most right now. Apartments have full-time residents. Condos, on the other hand, are often second homes. For example, in Water’s Edge, only half are full-time residents. Another advantage to apartments-dwellers in urban cores is that they tend to skew younger, leading to more demand for dining and nightlife. And that’s what leads to a vibrant downtown!

City Investment in Downtown

InvestmentThe City’s investment in downtown has been significant. Since the most recent downtown development plan (2004), the city has invested $40 million (not including the library, which had previously been planned and funded).

Here is the breakdown of the major projects:

  • Streetscape: $15 million
  • Marina: $12 million
  • Capitol Theatre: $10 million

Still to go: the future centerpiece of downtown, Coachman Park/Waterfront/Bluff!

Waterfront park – thinking outside the box in Nashville

Nashville parkThis is inspiring. Not long ago, Nashville’s riverfront park was boring, under-utilized, and pretty much vacant most of the time. Much of it was a massive asphalt slab. (Hmmm… sounds familiar!) The city had a vision and wisely decided to make it the first phase in regenerating and reinvigorating its downtown waterfront.

The way they went about it was especially interesting. They chose to to make it an adventure park rather than just a lot of empty green space, or the other extreme, a commercial development. Link to article.

Phase 1 (Done): A beautiful adventure park that incorporates water features, climbing walls, river overlooks, trails, picnic lawns and other features, turning the park into a new city landmark that attracts both tourists and locals.

Nashville amphitheaterPhase 2 (Underway): An outdoor music pavilion (debuting this month), a new inland recreational waterway, including waterfront restaurants, sports fields, a festival lawn, river walks, bridges, and a boulevard with multi-modal transit options.

Phase 3: Transforming an industrial-like surrounding area into an integrated small business option for entrepreneurs and a simple residential neighborhood.

Phase 4: Ecological restoration to recover natural areas that will remain untouched by tourists and visitors.

We’re envious. This could be our downtown waterfront. Or dare we say… will be?

Downtown’s worst eyesore – on its way out?

StrandThe City is taking firm action with the repulsive Strand “building” at 1100 Cleveland Street. The Strand had been previously labeled an abandoned building and the owner has been fined accordingly. But now the City has gone a step further and labeled it an unsafe structure.

If the owner doesn’t bring it up to compliance (at no small cost), the City can proceed with demolition. It will not be allowed to remain in its current state. The City is dead serious about this and is already soliciting demolition estimates. To which we say… Hooray!

Click here to read an informative article about it in the Tampa Bay Times.

Church of Scientology announces major project

Plans have been announced for the construction of L.Ron Hubbard Hall, an auditorium that will seat thousands. It will be located on Fort Harrison Street next to the Flag Building, fronted by L. Ron Hubbard Park.

The auditorium may eventually have some availability for public use such as banquets, benefits and conferences, but it is intended primarily for Church functions.

We’ve been told that fundraising is underway but it’s still too early to set a target date. In the meantime, the Church is moving quickly on other projects along Fort Harrison Street in the first few blocks north of Cleveland.

We’ve got to hand it to them. While others are talking about investing in downtown, they are really doing it.

The following photos are courtesy of www.scientology.org. Here is the link to the article about the occasion of the announcement. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

LRH hall 1


LRH hall 2


LRH hall 3



SkyView condo building update

The SkyView project is converting the old AmSouth office building (directly across the street from Capitol Theatre) into 51 modern high-style condominiums.

Pablo Picasso once said: “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction”, and that’s certainly the case here. The building is being reduced to its bare bones before being brought to life in a new incarnation. It’s a fascinating process to watch.

We spoke to the developer and were told that the targeted completion date is next January. Upon its completion, three of the four corners of Cleveland & Osceola will be downtown showcases.


AmSouth condos

Condo plans gel for former AmSouth building

Skyview2The plans for The SkyView condominium project are moving along rapidly.

The old AmSouth building, directly across the street from the Harborview Center, is being converted into 51 condos with a modern flair. The current (ugly) exterior will undergo a stunning transformation.

Check out their website to see floor plans, amenities, etc. Be sure to watch the video!

The SkyView Condominiums

Capitol Theatre update

Capitol Theatre rendering 2

Opening December 18

Jeff Hertzog, the director of operations for the Capitol Theatre, addressed the Downtown Development Board on July 31.

Jeff reports that construction is on schedule for a December 18 opening.

The total number of seats is being raised from the previous 450 to 735 (63% increase), which means the Cap can book a higher caliber of acts. There will be the same mix of acts as before: rock, country, classical, comedy, plays, etc., but the quality will be higher than ever.

In the first year, Jeff expects to offer 100 live performances. (This does not include supplementary events such as movies and community rentals.) Within 3 years, he estimates 200 to 250 live events per year.

Applause logoThose of us who live nearby have the pleasure of watching the impressive progress of the construction up close and personal. We applaud Zev Buffman, Jeff Hertzog and the Ruth Eckerd staff for their professionalism. And we applaud the City for their critical support of the project. Without a doubt, The Cap will be the foundation of downtown’s resurgence.

Prospect Lake development news

Conceptual rendering of possibilities

The Prospect Lake parcel is the large vacant lot on Cleveland just east of Myrtle. It’s nearly 7 acres and it’s a prime spot for residential development. The search is well underway to find a developer to build a complex of more than 200 upscale apartments to attract young professionals.

Downtown is already one of the larger neighborhoods in the city with more than 500 homes and this project would increase that number by half. The expectation is that these renters will be full-time residents who are likely to work and play downtown.

Please see this Tampa Bay Times article for more details: Link to article.