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New City About To Spring Forth Along Franklin

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STEVE OTTO

Published: Mar 4, 2005

It helps when your walking partner is Mayor Pam.

People come out of offices to say hello. Even the homeless in Massey Park wave and say howdy to the mayor.

And you learn stuff.

Did you know that in the next 90 to 120 days, the new owner of the property that the old Maas Brothers store downtown occupies is going to demolish the whole thing? He has already said he is going to build a massive condominium project on the spot.

It's a bittersweet story when you consider the memories and what that old store meant to downtown Tampa. But it is a building that cannot be saved, and its demolition will be one of the catalysts to a new downtown.

Did you know that if the city gets an applied-for HUD grant, it will be working with the Doran Jason Group on turning the old Kress building into a twin- tower condo, and at the same time save and restore the wonderful facade of the Kress building in the middle of the two towers? I don't know if one tower will be named ``Five'' and the other ``Ten,'' but it would nifty.

We hiked up North Franklin, where they are working on the empty Badcock furniture building. ``See where it dead ends up there?'' the mayor pointed. ``We are going to make Franklin a through street that goes by the state office building on Tampa Street.''

That's only a part of the larger plan to turn the east-west roads into two-way streets again and to replace the parallel parking downtown with angled parking.

Another New Tampa

But the story the mayor wanted to put out was what was happening at the north end of downtown. We were crossing the street near the Arlington condo project and ran into a local developer who was standing on Royal Street just off Franklin. He said he is ready (city permitting) to construct an apartment complex. ``There's plenty of condos going up downtown already,'' he said. ``One thing retailers and restaurant owners like is apartment dwellers. They tend to eat out more often and use retail stores more than condo owners.''

It was a fascinating walk. The mayor pointed to an empty lot just north of the Goody Goody restaurant where a new senior living building is about to go up. Everywhere you look are the signs of things ``about to happen.''

They won't all happen. It doesn't work that way. And there are holes that may not be filled for a long time. The international owners of the old Floridan Hotel keep making noise, but nothing happens. There are plenty of empty storefronts that just sit and wait.

But it is the amount of activity that is going on that surprises you.

Shadows Of The Colossus

Lately the attention has been on Channelside and that colossus of condos that the Donald is about to put up on the river.

I'm telling you the real action is already under way on Franklin and the surrounding streets.

You can still walk in the middle of North Franklin Street in the middle of the day and not sweat getting run over by a car. But you can feel it coming.

If it was one or two developers with grandiose schemes, you might put it in the same basket with the dozens of other dreams that never happened.

Now people are talking to one another. The guy who owns one block is talking about parking with the people who own the next. Permits are being applied for, and real money is beginning to show up.

The Donald's tower is going to be getting all the attention in the coming months, but you might keep watch on what is about to happen on Franklin Street. It is a new Tampa.

http://www.tampatribune.com/MGBL8QQSV5E.html

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STEVE OTTO

Published: Mar 4, 2005

It helps when your walking partner is Mayor Pam.

People come out of offices to say hello. Even the homeless in Massey Park wave and say howdy to the mayor.

And you learn stuff.

Did you know that in the next 90 to 120 days, the new owner of the property that the old Maas Brothers store downtown occupies is going to demolish the whole thing? He has already said he is going to build a massive condominium project on the spot.

It's a bittersweet story when you consider the memories and what that old store meant to downtown Tampa. But it is a building that cannot be saved, and its demolition will be one of the catalysts to a new downtown.

Did you know that if the city gets an applied-for HUD grant, it will be working with the Doran Jason Group on turning the old Kress building into a twin- tower condo, and at the same time save and restore the wonderful facade of the Kress building in the middle of the two towers? I don't know if one tower will be named ``Five'' and the other ``Ten,'' but it would nifty.

We hiked up North Franklin, where they are working on the empty Badcock furniture building. ``See where it dead ends up there?'' the mayor pointed. ``We are going to make Franklin a through street that goes by the state office building on Tampa Street.''

That's only a part of the larger plan to turn the east-west roads into two-way streets again and to replace the parallel parking downtown with angled parking.

Another New Tampa

But the story the mayor wanted to put out was what was happening at the north end of downtown. We were crossing the street near the Arlington condo project and ran into a local developer who was standing on Royal Street just off Franklin. He said he is ready (city permitting) to construct an apartment complex. ``There's plenty of condos going up downtown already,'' he said. ``One thing retailers and restaurant owners like is apartment dwellers. They tend to eat out more often and use retail stores more than condo owners.''

It was a fascinating walk. The mayor pointed to an empty lot just north of the Goody Goody restaurant where a new senior living building is about to go up. Everywhere you look are the signs of things ``about to happen.''

They won't all happen. It doesn't work that way. And there are holes that may not be filled for a long time. The international owners of the old Floridan Hotel keep making noise, but nothing happens. There are plenty of empty storefronts that just sit and wait.

But it is the amount of activity that is going on that surprises you.

Shadows Of The Colossus

Lately the attention has been on Channelside and that colossus of condos that the Donald is about to put up on the river.

I'm telling you the real action is already under way on Franklin and the surrounding streets.

You can still walk in the middle of North Franklin Street in the middle of the day and not sweat getting run over by a car. But you can feel it coming.

If it was one or two developers with grandiose schemes, you might put it in the same basket with the dozens of other dreams that never happened.

Now people are talking to one another. The guy who owns one block is talking about parking with the people who own the next. Permits are being applied for, and real money is beginning to show up.

The Donald's tower is going to be getting all the attention in the coming months, but you might keep watch on what is about to happen on Franklin Street. It is a new Tampa.

http://www.tampatribune.com/MGBL8QQSV5E.html

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This area has always had enormous potential. I with brick-roads and landscaping, this could become a real landmark for downtown amongst the high-rises.

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Franklin Street is my favorite section of downtown Tampa, despite the decay. I always thought that it would have been a great idea to build the first phase of the streetcar all the way down Franklin and up to at least the Magnolia Street Transportation Center. If that had happened, development would be years ahead of its current pace in that section. Now there's no telling when the streetcar will be extended.

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Franklin Street is my favorite section of downtown Tampa, despite the decay.  I always thought that it would have been a great idea to build the first phase of the streetcar all the way down Franklin and up to at least the Magnolia Street Transportation Center.  If that had happened, development would be years ahead of its current pace in that section.  Now there's no telling when the streetcar will be extended.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I hope the rest of the people end up using the streetcar more frequently. Nothing worse than seeing that thing go by at 10 PM on a Friday or Saturday night and seeing 1 or two people inside. That's why I'm excited to have the condo projects to near completion so the residences will have no choice but to use them daily. The very least we can save on gas (my dang SUV is a gas guzzler).

Marc

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