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1 hour ago, spenser1058 said:

I haven’t been lately (I want to visit) but downtown Tampa has struck me in the past as too corporate and sterile compared to downtown Orlando and St. Pete. 

If you’re all about the tall buildings, that was another story. Channelside was much the same - I need to do the Riverwalk.

If all that’s changing, so much the better. I hope to see more personality over there.

I’ve long considered it the most moribund CBD in Florida. Even more so than Jax. 

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Tampa building owner strives to save downtown blocks, including @JFW657 's favorite, Woolworths!

https://www.tampabay.com/news/hillsborough/2020/01/22/preserving-tampas-kress-and-woolworth-blocks-al-capone-a-bubbling-spring-and-racism/

From Tampa Bay Times

Edited by spenser1058

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Unlike our rather uninspired, blasé Woolworth building, the one in Tampa, though no major architectural gem either, at least has enough ornate detail to make it worth saving....

DcMVFUJX4AUf05b.jpg

Plus the fact that it's not located on one of the most high profile corners in the entire downtown area.

Good for them if they can save them.

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Our Woolworth’s was in fact a splendid example of beaux arts architecture but I agree that hopefully she’ll be successful.

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Thank you  for your honest feedback and candid photos. 

I agree with most of what you said, although I would rank Orlando much higher than  Tampa on vibrant downtown currently. 

I think Tampa will get transformed very well when the current projects are completed. Having lived in Florida all my life, I love living in DT Orlando , hate Miami, much of the creep north into Broward sucks too, although I love DT Hollywood, Jacksonville just stinks in general, Sarasota was beautiful, but too many old rich people that control everything, Tampa was usually dead corporate DT and slums but was changing, St. Pete was overpopulated with old people sleepy town, but downtown has become GORGEOUS! I would move there in a heartbeat. 

I am also looking at DT Winter Haven again as a micropolitan city. Great atmosphere and actual hills in Florida on the Lake Wales ridge and centrally located without being Lakeland (you would understand if you were from here). Maybe check it out next time. 

 

Edited by dcluley98
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Also, to be very clear, I have nothing against rich people or old people, haha. 

I just think that stifles a good vibrant fabric of community because of established status quo and lack of shared striving  and energy. 

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7 hours ago, KJHburg said:

Went to downtown Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Orlando this week in that order.  All have great points and all have things they can improve upon.  I can't help but wonder what if the Orlando Convention Center was downtown  how different your downtown would have been with large hotels, even more restaurants etc. 

Best skylines:  Tampa and Jax  (sorry height does matter)

Most improvement downtown in the last decade:  St Pete  lively street scene

Best street level activity: again downtown St Pete but I would say Tampa is making great strides (as I drove through last Sunday night and it was hopping downtown)

Best residential downtown:  Orlando and St Pete

Most need of improvement: Jax their downtown has so much potential but not much street activity tall buildings but I did not see a lot residential downtown either.   The river helps and hurts it divides the downtown south and north .

Best parks downtown:  Orlando with Lake Eola and the Tampa Riverwalk

Best for saving historical buildings: Orlando and St Pete

Best of the 4 overall:  shocking maybe to some but I do think Tampa has it all convention center, arena downtown, biggest hotels, the riverwalk, the office towers and now lots of residential and that Water Street development is no joke bigger than Brickell City Center in Miami and it is fully under construction .    Tied for 2nd place St Pete and Orlando and way behind the curve is 4th place is Jacksonville which is disappointing given their river frontage, large office towers etc. 

Orlando downtown needs to fill in the gaps between the Courthouse tower and Bank of America Tower and rest of the urban core closer further down Orange St by the Library.  Orlando has a lot of residential downtown and that needs to continue and looks like it is.  More office development is needed as office workers provide customers for downtown retail and restaurants.    All the downtowns in Florida maybe with the exception of Jax have made great strides in the last 10 years for sure.   

Thank you so much for doing this! I’ve lived in St. Pete and Tampa and have only been to Jax once and all of this occurred at least 4+ years ago, so I welcome your insight!

Tampa and St. Pete must have changed drastically since 2015. Tampa’s downtown was always pretty nice but sort of dead. I would put it squarely behind Orlando as a city and as a downtown, but Water Street must be transforming it. I wouldn’t mind moving back once all the construction is done.

On the other hand, I hated living in St. Pete (expensive, ugly homes for the cost, not a beach guy, and too segregated) but I always liked St. Pete’s downtown. Very classy and the waterfront is beautiful. Lots of bums though. No one wants to talk about that.

Jax has LOADS of potential. It’s sad how much the leaders of that city are failing its residents. Once they do something about The Landing, I hope downtown improves. Right now, Jax is just totally suburban. Nice buildings, but literally nothing else.

I forward to seeing how each city continues to evolve into the 2020s. Thanks again!

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7 hours ago, dcluley98 said:

Thank you  for your honest feedback and candid photos. 

I agree with most of what you said, although I would rank Orlando much higher than  Tampa on vibrant downtown currently. 

I think Tampa will get transformed very well when the current projects are completed. Having lived in Florida all my life, I love living in DT Orlando , hate Miami, much of the creep north into Broward sucks too, although I love DT Hollywood, Jacksonville just stinks in general, Sarasota was beautiful, but too many old rich people that control everything, Tampa was usually dead corporate DT and slums but was changing, St. Pete was overpopulated with old people sleepy town, but downtown has become GORGEOUS! I would move there in a heartbeat. 

I am also looking at DT Winter Haven again as a micropolitan city. Great atmosphere and actual hills in Florida on the Lake Wales ridge and centrally located without being Lakeland (you would understand if you were from here). Maybe check it out next time. 

 

@dcluley98, does this mean you just want to hang out at Legoland? *grins* Also, has the average age in Winter Haven decreased?  For the last couple of decades it seemed to be orienting itself to retirees.

I did always like that they kept their downtown Maas Brothers longer than anyone else.

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@KJHburg, a splendid comparison of the four cities and thank you for taking the time to share with us.

Tampa’s convention center is a nice downtown perk. It is, however, infinitely smaller than OCCC (depending on the year and who’s counting, we’re in the country’s top three for conventions -Tampa is way down the list).

The voters of OC had the wisdom in the late ‘70’s to prefer the I-Drive site (even though the road didn’t exist south of Sand Lake Road then). Had the downtown site prevailed (today’s Creative Village) and given the state of downtown at the time, most of what was preserved just a few years later would have been plowed over and our historic downtown would just have become an extension of International Drive.

As it turned out, I think we have our cake and eat it, too. We benefit from the taxes and economic stimulation of the conventions, have the high end dining option on Restaurant Row, while keeping downtown as a livable option with a variety of housing types within close proximity.

I posted a video recently about cities like Paris and Venice being loved to death by tourists and causing all manner of problems. Thanks to Walt building in the swamps (albeit with a much different goal), we keep our tourists at bay. Altogether a win-win, imho.

One additional note: I also much prefer the location of our DPCPA in the center of downtown to the location of the Straz Center in Tampa.

Edited by spenser1058
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2 hours ago, spenser1058 said:

@dcluley98, does this mean you just want to hang out at Legoland? *grins* Also, has the average age in Winter Haven decreased?  For the last couple of decades it seemed to be orienting itself to retirees.

I hope to retire and head to the hills in 3-4 years. 

It is close enough to Orlando and Tampa that I can go there if I want, and I can ride my bike in peace every day.  

Sometimes less is more. 

Edited by dcluley98
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11 hours ago, KJHburg said:

Went to downtown Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Orlando this week in that order.  All have great points and all have things they can improve upon.  I can't help but wonder what if the Orlando Convention Center was downtown  how different your downtown would have been with large hotels, even more restaurants etc. 

Best skylines:  Tampa and Jax  (sorry height does matter)

Most improvement downtown in the last decade:  St Pete  lively street scene

Best street level activity: again downtown St Pete but I would say Tampa is making great strides (as I drove through last Sunday night and it was hopping downtown)

Best residential downtown:  Orlando and St Pete

Most need of improvement: Jax their downtown has so much potential but not much street activity tall buildings but I did not see a lot residential downtown either.   The river helps and hurts it divides the downtown south and north .

Best parks downtown:  Orlando with Lake Eola and the Tampa Riverwalk

Best for saving historical buildings: Orlando and St Pete

Best of the 4 overall:  shocking maybe to some but I do think Tampa has it all convention center, arena downtown, biggest hotels, the riverwalk, the office towers and now lots of residential and that Water Street development is no joke bigger than Brickell City Center in Miami and it is fully under construction .    Tied for 2nd place St Pete and Orlando and way behind the curve is 4th place is Jacksonville which is disappointing given their river frontage, large office towers etc. 

Orlando downtown needs to fill in the gaps between the Courthouse tower and Bank of America Tower and rest of the urban core closer further down Orange St by the Library.  Orlando has a lot of residential downtown and that needs to continue and looks like it is.  More office development is needed as office workers provide customers for downtown retail and restaurants.    All the downtowns in Florida maybe with the exception of Jax have made great strides in the last 10 years for sure.  

Thanks for the excellent analysis.  I agree with basically all of this but I do think that Tampa has done way better with historic preservation compared to Orlando.  I don't think that's even close.  They also have an excellent downtown street grid (like Jax), which is mostly intact (compared to Orlando).

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On 1/24/2020 at 6:15 AM, spenser1058 said:

One additional note: I also much prefer the location of our DPCPA in the center of downtown to the location of the Straz Center in Tampa.

I think with the extension of the Riverwalk north of the interstate, water works park, Armature Works, surrounding development and (hopeful) redevelopment of housing authority land across the river, I think the Straz Center location will just keep getting better. 

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I agree that the Lee Roy Selmon is the bane of downtown Tampa pedestrians and definitely is an unseemly cut in the fabric of their core.

As a driver, however, I do marvel at how close the road meanders through cheek by jowl with several of the major buildings in town. 

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The Sentinel takes a look at all the fun stuff to do around Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid in Highlands County as well as nearby Zolfo Springs (oddly, they left out the generous supply of prisons and mental health facilities, but I digress).

Perhaps the most interesting thing for UP’ers is to scroll down to the vintage Jacaranda Hotel, which is still operational after close to a century.

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/explore-florida/highlands-county/os-tr-sebring-florida-peaceful-weekend-getaway-art-nature-liststory-20200130-36qcn5j5xncrpmewahxqchcqsa-list.html

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An American Trainaissance? A look at how private (like Brightline) and public (like Amtrak) approaches to rail are changing attitudes in the US about trains.

Bottom line: for travel of 200-500 miles, trains are the most efficient transportation mode but it will require big investments in modern infrastructure.

https://youtu.be/Rsend-1FbaM

From Bloomberg News

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Had to go to DT Tampa for work this week. 

Haven't been DT in a while, and it is a quite a bit different, as referenced above. The Riverwalk is AWESOME!  There is a bit more vibrancy than I remember, but still not as walkable as Orlando. It feels big-city but not very to scale and unified, and very car-centric. They have some similar problems with the Selmon Expressway as a barrier to the bay and  blocking the street movement around downtown. The riverwalk somewhat helps that, and was very active the whole time I was there. There was actually quite a bit of foot traffic, despite a cold and windy day, but that was because there was a convention  in town and their convention center is right smack downtown and there is no tourist district. 

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Edited by dcluley98
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