Tampa City Council approves proposal for Hair of the Dog park and bar

The potential hub for pups and their owners in Seminole Heights is "no longer a question of if."

click to enlarge A rendering of Hair of the Dog's recycled shipping container, which will serve about four local drafts. - via Facebook
via Facebook
A rendering of Hair of the Dog's recycled shipping container, which will serve about four local drafts.

Thanks to collective support from the community, Hair of the Dog will likely become a new hub for pups and their owners in Seminole Heights.

As CL covered earlier this month, the dog park and bar, which is about a quarter of an acre, was proposed for the corner of North Nebraska Avenue and Genesee Street, where it's set to take shape now that it's received the OK from Tampa City Council. Hair of the Dog's lot is currently vacant, aside from some parked cars from Kingdom Auto Repair, located next door.

The dog park has been a dream of Todd Goldfarb and his wife Dr. Mara Balda, a psychiatrist at the University of South Florida, for more than a year and half. Their project made two visits to the City Council before it was approved during a third appearance on March 23.

"We fell in love with the [lot]," Goldfarb said at the public City Council meeting last week. "We knew this was the place to be."

The park's dog runs will stay lush with trees and grass, which is important to Goldfarb. For the safety of dog owners and their four-legged best friends, he said Hair of the Dog will close on Mondays for maintenance work — like flea and tick repellants, mowing and general cleanup — and that security cameras and fences are planned.

Owners will also need to apply for park membership, and that's meant to ensure all pooches are fixed and up-to-date with vaccinations.

Leading up to Hair of the Dog's latest City Council appearance, Goldfarb stressed that community support would be essential to the project landing permits. He and Balda partnered with Brew Bus on Florida Avenue to throw a pre-party of sorts that offered attendees a free craft beer and a ride to the council chambers downtown. Balda signed in nearly 40 people, and Goldfarb said he "could have filled up more busses."

The still-growing popularity of Seminole Heights has more people situating themselves in the area. Giddens Dog Park is an option for the neighborhood's dog lovers, but some supporters at the March 23 meeting — such as Frank Ender, a 15-year Seminole Heights resident and a Southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association member — said Giddens is too small.

Throughout the session, Hair of the Dog's benefits to pups and people were praised, and 10 attendees stood and gave testimony as to why the project would be a win for Seminole Heights. There was one letter of opposition to the Council, and two in-favor letters, with the writer of one pro-park letter showing up to support the proposal in person as well.

When it was mentioned that the dog park and bar is seeking 59 percent less parking spaces than what's typically required for parks, the Council had questions. Many supporters mentioned they wouldn't have a problem walking to the park, and that it'd make large dog owners' lives easier.

"I want to walk and not fuss with a car," said Kasondra Arone-Miller, a wife, mother and dog owner living in Seminole Heights, in the council chambers. Arone-Miller also added that she'd like to see the lot in better shape, because now it "is overgrown, unkempt and forgotten."

According to Kimberly Overman, who owns the Heights Exchange and serves as president of the Heights Urban Core Chamber, Nebraska Avenue is perfect for Hair of the Dog's plan to keep parking to 27 spaces; Nebraska has a street plan complete with bus stops and pedestrian walkways, Overman said, fit for residents making their way to the park. She also claimed that Kingdom Auto Repair was in code violation for parking cars on the park's future home since 1995, an act a few neighborhood residents at the meeting agreed has created an eyesore.

So, instead of an eyesore, Hair of the Dog is on its way to becoming the newest addition to Seminole Heights, showcasing a big and little dog run; a reclaimed Tampa shipping container bar with a rotating tap list of about four local brews; and a place for dog owners to gather. In the future, Goldfarb said he hopes to have events for animal shelters and rescues, as well as breed meetups.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who came out. It was the great turnout and wonderful testimony of everyone there that made this thing happen," reads a portion of a March 24 update posted to Hair of the Dog's Facebook page. "This was a collective neighborhood effort. We know we could not have done this without you. There's still the second hearing in a couple weeks, and then we have to build it, but it's no longer a question of if, it's just when."