Tree innocence

As a follow-up to our Feb. 14 story about Tampa's Leigh Shein and his fight with City Hall to protect trees on his Davis Islands property ("Getting to the roots of a Davis Islands tree dispute"), the city's Code Enforcement Board ruled on Feb. 28 that contractor Don Hughes was not guilty of violating city codes when he built a house next door to Shein's. Shein and city officials believed that Hughes' construction had fatally damage the roots of an oak tree on Shein's property, but the Board didn't agree. Shein has been fighting to save the tree (and another on his property that he says was damaged by construction) for almost a year and blames city officials for not taking more forceful and timely action to save the oak.

Armory Hotel

Florida's top National Guard leaders have ratified the selection of a group that wants to make over the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory site into a luxury hotel and European-style market. ("Wrestling for the Armory," April 12, 2006; "Elvis has left the building," July 19, 2006) The $100-million project, called Heritage Square, still must go through negotiations with the Florida National Guard, which owns the site on N. Howard Avenue in West Tampa. "We're just thrilled with the good news," said project spokeswoman Chris Duffy-Waldman. She said Heritage Square's developers haven't lost interest in the project, despite a lengthier-than-expected selection process. "We knew we were in this for the long haul," she said.

Duffy-Waldman added that Heritage Square, headed by Coast Dental founder Terek Diasti, has not received details yet from the Guard about negotiations or requirements for the next round of talks, asnd she did not have a timetable for when the project could be completed.

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