Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Community Leaders to Break Ground on Perry Harvey Park - Park improvements to honor history of Central Avenue

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 Mayor Bob Buckhorn will join community leaders to break ground on Perry Harvey Park near Encore in downtown Tampa.

The event will be held in Perry Harvey Park on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. near the intersection of Harrison Street and Central Avenue. Please note there is significant construction in the area immediately surrounding the park; a map to the location is available on

“Tampa won a Choice Neighborhoods grant in 2012 because of our vision to create an active park that honored the community’s history for the new residents of Encore and the surrounding downtown neighborhood. While it has taken us longer than we anticipated getting to this point, we are ready to break ground and begin construction in earnest on the park that the community deserves,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Central Avenue has a special place in Tampa’s history, particularly for the African American community, and this park will be a place where generations can come together to share in that history and enjoy.”

The planned improvements for Perry Harvey Park are poised to celebrate the history of Central Avenue, its community leaders and cultural influences. The area was settled after the civil War, when freed slaves were relocated to an area northeast of downtown Tampa called ‘The Scrub’. Over time, the area grew to become a successful African American residential and commercial district. The cultural attractions became legendary, bringing nationally known artists to Tampa, including: Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Hank Ballard, and many others. In fact, the dance ‘The Twist’ was invented at an entertainment establishment along Central Avenue, inspiring the song created by Hank Ballard, which was later made famous by Chubby Checker.

The community’s history will be commemorated in the form of custom artwork, including am engaging “History Walk” located along Central Avenue, large scale statue commemorating Perry Harvey, Sr., and Leader’s Row featuring the community leaders, including Lee Davis, Robert Saunders, Christina Meacham, Moses White, Henry Joyner, Georgette Gardner, and GD Rogers.

The new park will feature an interactive fountain and great lawn space capable of hosting large concerts, festivals, and a variety of other special events. Additional improvements for the park include basketball courts, picnic shelters, and a skate park at the north end. All the new amenities will be connected by walkways and lighting, providing views of downtown Tampa’s skyline and Encore throughout.

Park renovations are being funded by the Choice Neighborhoods grant award in the amount of $6.95 million for construction. Site preparations began in spring 2015, and construction is anticipated to be complete in winter 2016, or in approximately seven months.

A map of the park improvements along with renderings of the artworks are available at in the folder named “Perry Harvey Park Art Renderings.”

For additional information, please contact: 
Ali Glisson, Public Affairs Director 
(813) 274-8262