Tampa — one step forward, two steps back; but not this time.

Editor's Note: Spencer Kass is a new Fix It Now blogger, a neighborhood association president (Virginia Park in Tampa), and a fixture at Tampa City Hall meetings. We wrote about Spencer and his brother, Jarrett, in 2006 when they proposed a creative re-use of the aging Fort Homer Hesterly Armory: "Spencer and Jarrett Kass of Landmarc Realty are transplants from Long Island via Boca Raton, but they have quickly ingrained themselves in West Tampa as developers and real estate and mortgage brokers. Their energy is high; their understanding of the plight of West Tampa thorough." Spencer is going to contribute occasional posts on the special challenges that Tampa faces:

First I want to thank Wayne and Creative Loafing for giving the residents of Tampa a place to discuss some of the fundamental issues facing the city and its future.

Tampa is a city of contradictions: we want to lead the way into the future, as long as we go second; we want to prevent urban sprawl, but not at the expense of our residential districts; we want affordable housing, as long as it conforms to our regulations. It is these and many other contradictions that make people scratch their heads when looking at Tampa. A city of unsurpassed potential, Tampa has remained stuck in somewhere between neutral and reverse, leaving many asking: Why? And even more saying: No longer.

Urban density is one of the fundamental issues facing Tampa, and while some are ready to embrace the city's place in the future, others have remained stuck in the past, worried that development will change place they have always known. In the upcoming months, city officials and interested residents will begin discussions of its comprehensive plan, the road map for the city’s future. It is this discussion that will guide Tampa’s growth and development for years to come. In the past the city has handled these conflicting interests by playing an unfortunate game of splitting the baby, and treating these seemingly contradictory views — the past and the future — as a zero sum game, with only winners and losers. It is this approach which has led to years of animosity between neighbors, builders, businesses and government and left none better off for it.

In the upcoming weeks and months ahead I look forward to discussing changing the fundamental nature of the questions about density, growth and economic development and showing how it is not about picking winners and losers but about bringing growth and prosperity to all the citizens of Tampa.

(file photo: Nick Ledford/some rights reserved) 

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