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Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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East Tampa lots could be used for grocery store

EAST TAMPA - Tribune staffThe purchase of two properties along 21st Street is critical to a long-range plan to bring a grocery store to the community. City officials are working with representatives of Save A Lot, who have expressed interest in building such a store. Today, Tampa City Council members will vote whether to buy the parcels -- 2925 21st St., and 2924 21st St. -- for $85,000 plus about $5,000 in closing costs. The sale would be funded with local property tax revenues collected within the East Tampa special tax district bordered by Hillsborough Avenue, Interstates 275 and 4, and the city limits. The sale previously won approval from volunteer members of the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership and city council members, collectively, in their role as the city’s redevelopment agency.
The goal in recent years has been to amass enough city-owned properties to clear the way for major redevelopment along 21st and 22nd streets, which intersect at about 21st Avenue. “I’m closing in on it,” said Ed Johnson, the city’s East Tampa redevelopment manager. If these purchases go through, only a couple of remaining properties would be needed. One is owned by Al Capote’s Cleaners at 2935 N. 21st St. A second is a house. Johnson said owners of both the properties are willing to work with the city. For the last six years the city has spent district property tax monies for parcels along 22nd and 21st. The purchases included the former Gene’s Bar – residents for years lobbied to close the notorious business -- and nearby properties. The city bought the bar and tore it down in 2007. Construction is ongoing along 22nd to redesign and upgrade the corridor to attract commercial development. The approximately $7.5 million project runs from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to 21st Avenue, and is a link between East Tampa and Ybor City. It includes new pavement, sidewalks and landscaped medians. A roundabout near the former Gene’s Bar site, in the vicinity of 21st, is under way. The latest proposed purchases on 21st street are south of the roundabout. In addition to a grocery store, Johnson said there might be space for additional shops.

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