Since our offices are in West Tampa, we've taken a special interest in this neighborhood, which has a long and storied history. I even put it on the cover with a story about its revitalization.
It is a hyperlocal story, but West Tampa's rebirth has ramifications for every single neighborhood in Tampa Bay, as well as mass transit. It's because West Tampa is the ideal candidate for regrowth at much higher densities than currently exist, especially along Howard and Armenia avenues, where 3- to 4-story homes could create a very European feel and would be appropriate for making a dense enough neighborhood that could effectively be served by mass transit and light rail.
One of the major players in rebuilding this lower income, racially mixed neighborhhood is former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, whose InTown Homes is constructing historically appropriate, low-cost housing for residents who agree to live in them for a period of years and not just flip them for a profit, as speculators do in other gentrifying neighborhoods.
Turanchik had run into some trouble in trying to introduce a new, less expensive design and had been rebuffed by the West Tampa Community Development Corp., a nonprofit that acts as a civic association-meets-chamber of commerce. The CDC is dominated by some older neighborhood residents who, frankly, are less ambitious and less aggressive about change. Last week, the CDC voted against Turanchik's plan, a recommendation that then went to City Council.
It looks like, though, the City Council came through and approved the change, which amounts to allowing Turanchik to build a Mediterranean model with a flat roof instead of the historic-overlay-required slanted roof. Bill Sharpe of Sticks of Fire has a good account of the decision here.