Local Tampa officials praise Castor as they bask in a $38 million grant to rebuild Central Park Village

But obviously not all of those who used to live in the dilapidated housing project will be allowed back.  The current plans for the Encore project call for 667 affordable and public housing housing rental units  and over 800 market rate units.  The Encore plan also calls for a hotel, museum and grocery store.

Mayor Pam Iorio was in an ebullient mood at the event.  She seconded Ryan's promise that those former Central Park residents will be allowed the opportunity to live in Encore Village.

The Mayor called the the area, which is located east of downtown Tampa but south of Ybor City, as being "one of the most critical sites in the city of Tampa."   Iorio said she loved the city, and "I want every part of it to grow and prosper."  Speaking to public housing residents, she said "you live in dignity, with respect in a good clean safe neighborhood."

Local city governments over the years have tried to phase out traditional public housing projects like Central Park Village, which Iorio said in its dilapidated condition in its last year was "unacceptable" to live in.

Congresswoman Castor, as the point person in Washington who was pushing for the project to get federal funding, was the recipient of much love from the other public officials on the dais.  Tampa City Council Chairman Tom Scott said the city was lucky and blessed to have her representing in Washington.

The plans to redevelop Central Park Village go back to 2003, with the ill fated "Civitas" project, which went down to defeat at the hands of the Hillsborough County Commission.  It's been stalled since 2006, when the first signs of the economy going south started to develop.

This morning in Tampa, Mayor Pam Iorio, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and Tampa Housing Authority chairman Jerome Ryans were among the officials who spoke in near ecstatic terms today, a day after learning that the Obama administration had awarded $38 million to Hillsborough County - with $28 million going directly into funding the long delayed plan to redevelop the former Central Park housing complex into a mixed-use affordable housing project.

The funds come by way of the controversial $787 billion stimulus plan passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last winter, and will be used to build a village of apartments, offices and stores. Bank of America is the private entity involved in the  public/private project.

Central Park Village was razed in 2007.  There were approximately 1,300 residents who lived in around 380 apartments, all of whom were relocated to other public housing facilities.   In a message to those former residents, THA director Ryans said, "If you want to come back, you can come back."

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