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Economic Development

Mayor's Heights Project

Revitalization of the Tampa Heights neighborhood north of the City's central business district is the goal of the Mayor's Heights Project. The five year program includes residential construction and rehabilitation, along with comprehensive treatment of environmental, infrastructure and business development needs. Tampa Heights is located in the Tampa Enterprise Community and State Enterprise Zone.

Housing objectives include new construction and rehabilitation numbering some 600 units over the course of the project. Approximately $10.5 million will be invested within the boundaries of the area and could result in about $18 million in non-residential development. Area-wide trash removal and landscaping will be provided to enhance the appearance of the neighborhood.

The Mayor's Heights Project is a new and innovative approach for the City to spark sector investment with substantial City, community and comprehensive support. This program will be used as a pilot program for future City actions. It will be a vehicle for banks to lend to an umbrella Development Corporation, which will coordinate with other service providers to revitalize and rejuvenate the target area.

Tampa Union Station

The Tampa Union Station, located at 601 N. Nebraska Avenue, was donated to the City by the rail freight company, CSX. CSX took title to the landmark station back from the preservation group after forgiving the mortgage on the property. Tampa Union Station Preservation and Redevelopment Inc. is a non-profit company, which owned the property and had overseen renovations to the two-story brick building since 1991. Altogether, more than $2.5 million in grants and loans have been spent for the purchase and renovation of this site.

The historic train station was built in 1912 but had been closed since 1982, due to structural deterioration. The City held a grand re-opening ceremony May 30th for the facility that derived its name from the union of two major downtown streets, Twiggs Street and Nebraska Avenue.

Currently, the City and AMTRAK are in the process of negotiating a lease for AMTRAK's use of the station.

German-American Club (Ybor Service Center)

Completed in the fall of 1997, several agencies currently leasing space in Ybor City and several City operations located in the Tampa Municipal Office Building were relocated to the German-American Club building.

This project was made possible through a favorable financial arrangement with TEDCO (Tampa Economic Development Corporation). The City deeded the property to TEDCO then TEDCO arranged for loans (approximately $1.2 million) to renovate the property and leased it back to the City. After twenty years, ownership of the land and building reverts back to the City. Lease payments are coming primarily from anticipated rent savings achieved from canceling current office leases.

Advantages of this move are: consolidating Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and Economic Development Resource Center (EDRC) staff from different offices into one building; providing easier access and parking for citizens paying utility bills; and restoring a historic Tampa landmark. As a side benefit, this move is allowing the Mayor's Office to relocate to the ground floor of the Tampa Municipal Office Building, with an anticipated move date of September, 1998. This will help make the Mayor's Office more accessible to the public. It will also provide more space for staff meetings, conferences and press announcements.

Enterprise Community/Enterprise Zone (EC/EZ)

In FY96, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided funding for Tampa's Enterprise Community (EC) and the Florida Department of Commerce funded Tampa's Enterprise Zone (EZ). These programs have a ten year designation and two year payout period. Beginning in early FY96, $2.95 million was made available for EC and $500,000 for EZ. Two and a half years into these programs approximately $2.28 million of EC and $389,000 of EZ funds have been spent.

The EC/EZ provides benefits to eligible area residents through job creation and improvement of community conditions. Policy for the EC/EZ is established by the Tampa Enterprise Community-based Partnership. The goal of the Partnership is to improve employment and economic conditions so that residents in the targeted neighborhoods can live and work in a safe environment and achieve a better future.

The Partnership has focused its programs on the revitalization of the following seven communities: Sulphur Springs, Belmont Heights, Jackson Heights, Ybor City, Palmetto Beach, Tampa Heights, and West Tampa.

One of the first accomplishments of the Partnership is the initiation of the Good Faith Micro-Loan Program. In FY96, this program created ten new businesses. These ten businesses hired thirty new employees in the Enterprise Community area. These business owners are required to complete 15 hours of business management sessions and attend monthly borrower's group meetings. In FY97, the micro-loan program produced four additional new businesses, resulting in eight new employment opportunities. In FY98 HUD recognized the Micro-Loan Program as one of the Blue Ribbon Best Practices in America.

The Partnership is working to encourage economic development in the area by creating jobs and empowering the community to identify and implement needed community programs. So far 742 jobs have been created or retained in the EC/EZ through new business activity.

Some other accomplishments occurring in the EC/EZ include:

The Neighborhood Environmental Action Team (NEAT) Program provides employment and training opportunities for youth in EC/EZ areas. The NEAT Program helps clean and maintain many inner-city neighborhoods. The NEAT Program was also selected as a Blue Ribbon Best Practice Program by HUD.

Community Outreach Program - A total of 801 people have received assistance through this program including: 78 completed employability skills classes, 611 received job referrals, and 91 received job placements.

Harmon's "Half-Way Home" started the Van Pool Employee Transportation Service Program Corporation. This program provides vans to transport low income residents to places of employment throughout the City. The EC/EZ residents receive discounted fares.

Youth Empowerment Program Tampa United Methodists Centers created a program to train inner-city youth in business management and operation. The students learn how to start, own and operate a small business. They also learn about computers, ways to manufacture and market a product, and will visit the worksites of major corporations.

Various projects in the EC/EZ areas receiving EC/EZ funds have assisted more than 6,000 families and individuals. An additional 2,100 families and individuals will receive service in the next year. The projects include dental, medical, education, counseling, self-improvement and family development services. Many of the Tampa EC/EZ projects have incorporated job training into their program model and address the problems of adult literacy, family literacy, basic education skills, and parents' involvement in their childrens' education.

Urban Federal Empowerment Zone II

The City of Tampa is applying for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community (Round II) grant. This $100 million grant, $10 million a year for ten years, is the second round of designation for this innovative approach to urban community revitalization. The primary effects of this grant would be the creation of community partnerships and the ability to leverage millions of dollars in private investment.

Section 108

The City is working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to utilize Federal Section 108 loan guarantee funds as incentives for economic development within distressed areas. The repayment of the Section 108 loans will be guaranteed with the City's CDBG entitlement allocation. Currently, the City has four active Section 108 projects in various stages of development:

The Floridan Hotel/Parking Garage

The existing 20 story, 169,898 square foot Floridan Hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located on North Florida Avenue in downtown Tampa. A private investment group recently acquired the Floridan. Current plans are to rehabilitate the structure and operate a high quality, historically significant hotel. Rehabilitation will require conversion of the current 316 hotel rooms into approximately 226 spacious suites. The ground floor will consist of an upscale restaurant and a coffee shop. The main lobby and adjoining grand ballrooms will be restored to the lavish style of the 1920s.

The City has received HUD's approval for $9.9 million of Section 108 funds for this project: $6.5 million toward restoration of the Floridan Hotel and $3.4 million for construction of a 325 space parking garage, with a swimming pool and exercise facilities. The Development Agreement is currently awaiting HUD's approval.

Kash n' Karry Supermarket

The 47,891 square foot supermarket features a deli, bakery, pharmacy, floral, seafood and meat departments. Located at Nebraska Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, in a minority and low-income neighborhood, the new store provides convenient accessibility for those residents who lack mobility and transportation. The new supermarket, opened June 30, 1997, employs 151 people including 50 full-time positions.

The $3.6 million acquisition and development financing for the supermarket includes a $.6 million land acquisition/equity contribution by the developer, a $1.5 million conventional first mortgage, and a $1.5 million Section 108 second mortgage provided by the City. The Section 108 funds, approved by HUD, are financial obligations of the Kash n' Karry supermarket operation , which are being repaid to the City.

The Kress Block Retail/Commercial/Office Center

The 44,500 square foot historic Kress Block is located in the north end of the downtown central business district and is occupied by three vacant buildings. The proposed development plan for the Kress Block calls for a mixed-use 147,900 square foot commercial office/retail project. This project will consist of street level restaurants and retail-market place shops, with upper floors housing health club facilities and quality professional office space.

The proposed acquisition and development financing for the $7.5 million Kress Block includes conventional first mortgages on the three Kress Block buildings and a $4.5 million Section 108 mortgage provided by the City. HUD has completed the initial review and additional information was sent to HUD for consideration. In November of 1997, HUD issued the formal commitment letter to the City approving the $4.5 million Section 108 Loan Guarantee assistance. The City and the developer have begun negotiation of the Development Agreement for consideration by City Council.

Centro Ybor Entertainment Retail Complex Project

The proposed plan is Tampa's first urban pedestrian development in its oldest neighborhood. The plan is for a 3.0 acre, $44.5 million Centro Ybor retail/entertainment center, located in the heart of the Ybor City's historic district. The redevelopment area consists of 234,474 square feet gross building area and 195,962 square feet of leasing area.

This two level, leisure time retail/entertainment complex will consist of a 20 screen multiplex cinema, numerous restaurants, European style sidewalk cafes, an assortment of national and local retailers, and exhibitions featuring the history of Ybor City, as well as the famous cigar industry. The completed center will provide 978 jobs, including 300 full-time permanent positions.

The proposed acquisition and development financing includes a $29.4 million conventional first mortgage; a $9.1 million Section 108 second mortgage provided by the City and a $6 million equity contribution by the project developer. In April, 1998 the City received the formal commitment letter from HUD for the requested Section 108 Loan. The City and the developer have successfully negotiated a Development Agreement, which has been approved by the Tampa City Council. The Funding Approval Agreements have been transmitted to HUD for approval.

Economic Development Grant

In FY97, the City of Tampa was awarded a $750 thousand U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant. This grant, matched with $1 million City funded capital improvement projects, will be for the Ybor City business district. The $1.75 million will help create over 850 new jobs. This is the first major grant that Ybor City has received since the revitalization program began in 1989. The grant will help implement a variety of projects, including one that has been identified as a major infrastructure need for the past decade, the 7th Avenue Streetscape project.

Other projects include:

  • Constructing a gateway at the intersection of 7th Avenue and Nick Nuccio Parkway;
  • Installing destination signs;
  • Additional historic street lighting;
  • Traffic safety enhancements;
  • Improving City-owned parking lots and common areas;
  • Expanding and upgrading water service lines for fire protection; and
  • Improving the sanitary sewer system.

This grant will enhance an already successful revitalization program for Ybor City. All the projects are underway and should be completed in the Summer of 1999.

Qualified Target Industries

In FY96, the City agreed to fund job credit payments to the State of Florida Qualified Target Industries (QTI) Tax Refund Program. This program was established to encourage further business development, investment and job creation throughout the City of Tampa. QTI is available to all areas of the City. Private businesses, which create new job opportunities and serve to relieve regional negative economic impacts, will be given top priority.

Applications for QTI can be approved at the state level for refunds up to $5,000 per qualified new job creation. The

refunds are earned over a four year period with the state program requiring the local government to provide 20% of the total tax refunds and the state paying the other 80%. Thus, for businesses locating within the City limits, Hillsborough County and the City each contribute 50% of the 20%. However, if the business locates within the City's Tax Increment Financed area boundaries, the County contributes 10% and the City contributes 90% of the 20%.

Corporations using this opportunity so far have been USF&G, Met-Life and Aerial Communications; creating up to 340, 300 and 375 jobs respectively.

Residential Development

Residential development and redevelopment are on the rise throughout the City. New residential construction permits are at an all time high, projected to be up 30% over FY97, thus exceeding previous highs of FY94 and FY72. New Tampa continues its rapid growth with developing single family community subdivisions. This accounts for over half of the overall new residential growth. More growth is projected in the future due to continued expansion of existing residential developments.

While North Tampa continues to grow, central and south Tampa are undergoing major redevelopment. Harbor Island has completed its build out of Phase I Island Homes and Phase II is underway. In south Tampa, older homes are being replaced with larger, hurricane resistant housing. Rehabilitation/redevelopment efforts continue in historic central Tampa neighborhoods such as Sulphur Springs and Seminole Heights as well as other neighborhoods throughout the City.

Code Enforcement

One of the main goals of the Department of Business and Community Services is to improve residential living standards. To better assist the department in its mission, four code inspectors were added in FY98 and an additional six code inspectors are planned for FY99. They will focus enforcement efforts primarily on rental certification; illegal signage; noise abatement; assisting the Neighborhood Improvement Action Team; and providing additional inspection coverage for the Channelside and Central Business Districts.

The present staff has been unable to perform systematic inspections or actively enforce the rental certification program. With the hiring of four additional inspectors, the division will be able to re-establish systematic inspections to work in conjunction with the rental certification. This task can be completed within a three year period.

While one of the Neighborhood Improvement Division's main responsibilities is investigation of zoning complaints, the majority of the division's resources and manpower has been dedicated to environmental and structural issues. With the additional inspectors, the division will be able to aggressively pursue various types of zoning violations.

One area to be addressed involves businesses operating illegally in residential areas. This has resulted in numerous complaints, especially in regard to large commercial vehicles staying parked in neighborhoods after normal business hours. A major interest of the administration has been stronger enforcement of the sign ordinance. One code inspector will be assigned full time to this task and will coordinate a team of inspectors to help reduce illegal signage throughout the City. Also, Business and Community Services, in conjunction with the Legal Department, will be revising the current noise ordinance. This is primarily to address complaints from Ybor City neighborhoods regarding excess noise levels generated from local businesses during the weekends. After enactment, two inspectors will be assigned to enforce this ordinance as well as provide better inspection coverage in the Ybor City, Channelside and Central Business Districts.

Lastly, the City is working in conjunction with the County organizing a special damage assessment team to respond to storm, hurricane, flood and wind damage. A grant has been submitted to equip this team which will consist of approximately ten inspectors.

Operation Clean-Sweep

"Operation Clean-Sweep", initiated by the Mayor in October of 1996, was the first phase of the City's Neighborhood Improvement Program to clean up the City by rehabilitating or demolishing condemned homes, apartment houses and other abandoned buildings that attract vagrants, vandals and drug addicts.

The program uses the resources of the many City departments in order to carry out this program. The Department of Business and Community Services, Division of Neighborhood Improvement, identifies buildings condemned through the Code Enforcement process. The Department's Community Redevelopment Agency provides rehabilitation loans through non-profit agencies to owners of homesteaded properties. Affordable housing will be built on the cleared lots through the Mayor's Challenge Fund Loan Program. The Parks Department administers the NEAT (Neighborhood Environmental Action Team) program. Crews of employees and inner-city youth clean rights-of-way and vacant overgrown lots. The Solid Waste Department coordinates regular neighborhood clean-ups with civic groups and volunteers to remove accumulations, haul large items not normally accepted on weekly pickups and clean the areas on a lot by lot basis.

During FY97, the City allocated more than $500,000 in City and federal Community Development Block Grant funds to cover the cost of demolishing 92 condemned structures, including five large commercial structures. The State Department of Corrections demolished another 42 structures for the City. Other condemned homes have been rehabilitated by owners with the aid of City operated loan programs.

For FY98 Phase II, the City has allocated $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds and $261,000 in City funds for a total of $661,000, with a goal of demolishing another 250 structures. The total number demolished in the third quarter of FY98 is 127, of which four were commercial. The State Department of Corrections demolished 27 condemned homes.

Currently, FY99 Phase III's goal is to demolish another 250 structures. Again the same funding sources will provide $661,000 for the program.

Neighborhood Environmental Action Team (NEAT)

For two years this Parks division, created by the Mayor and the Parks Department, has been cleaning up the City. The NEAT program is a cooperative effort of neighborhood associations, City departments (Business and Community Services, Solid Waste, Stormwater, Neighborhood Improvement, Community Affairs, Publications, Police, Mayors Office), and the judicial system.

Among the duties of this division are mowing and trash removal in thoroughfares, rights-of-way, and alleys. Other tasks are removal of graffiti City-wide, removal of weeds, spraying of herbicides in concrete medians, removal of illegal signs in rights-of-way, maintenance of unkempt vacant lots and mowing of grassy medians.

This project includes salaries for the 45 full-time equivalent positions and purchase of minor equipment, supplies, and tools. Every attempt was made to maximize production. This NEAT division works in different areas of the City every week in conjunction with neighborhood clean-ups already established by the Solid Waste Department.

NEAT crews work seven days a week. Friday through Monday, crews clean up neighborhoods, working with THAN (Tampa Homeowners Association of Neighborhood), Mayor's Beautification Program, Neighborhood Associations and/or Homeowner's Associations, VISTA, Americorps, Neighborhood Crime Watch, Peer to Peer, and the individual neighborhood volunteers. These crews also maintain on a regular basis the City's inventoried thoroughfares. Crews working Monday through Thursday are responsible for continuing and finishing the volunteer cleanup from the previous weekend.

A total of 37 full-time and 16 part-time at-risk youth are employed. The City works closely with the Salvation Army in coordinating the Community Services workers who are used extensively throughout the program. NEAT also works with Bay Area Youth Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Family and Juvenile Court Program of the 13th Judicial Circuit to employ at-risk youth.

From January 1997 to December 1997, NEAT completed 41 cleanups. Currently, from January to June, 1998, 20 cleanups have been completed. Listed below are a few statistics which reflect NEAT's work:

 

1997

1998 YTD

Litter/Debris Removed (tons)

3,248

1,234

Illegal Signs Removed from Right-of-Way

3,305

946

Linear Feet Cleaned

2,424,056

838,464

Number of Volunteers

400

78

By maximizing the City work forces effectively and utilizing associations and volunteers with specialized weekend clean-up projects, the Mayor's Parks NEAT division is projected to meet its stated goal of making the City of Tampa look clean again.

Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) Repayment Program

The Urban Development Action Grant Repayment Fund was established for repayment of UDAG loans made by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the City of Tampa in prior years. However, during FY98 the funding source sold the UDAG backed property, thus paying off the outstanding loan. A portion of the loan proceeds will be utilized to cover the City's economic development commitment to the Qualified Target Industries Program. The remaining balance may be utilized to fund a downtown park.