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Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Otto: Is Kress building a sign of Tampa’s future?

On Tuesday, Mayor Bob, on the heels of turning the Hillsborough River green for St. Patrick’s Day weekend, has decided to explain the state of our city from inside the old Kress building downtown in the mayor’s annual state of the city report. I wondered if talking about the condition of the Big Guava from inside a long-shut down five and dime store might be a hint that belt tightening is on the way. But no, the mayor said he only was trying to draw a little attention to the building Samuel Kress put up in 1929. “We’re trying to draw attention to buildings like this, hoping developers might be creative, like we are doing with the federal courthouse, ‘’ he said. The mayor is right on, on this one. Everyone loves the great façade of the Kress, which Sam Kress eighty-odd years ago admitted was as much a desire to bring art to the community as a retail store. Preservation efforts such as the hotel going into the courthouse, the Tampa Theatre and the magnificent restoration of the Floridan Hotel are giving the downtown real character.
Last week’s discussion on transportation at the weekly meeting of the Hillsborough County Commission not only drew a crowd to County Center, it filled up my mailbox. It’s an issue that that affects all of us and, as we approach gridlock, needs leadership and action now. Here are a few samples of your thoughts: “Mr. Otto, You are correct. The entire Tampa Bay region should be considered when talking about mass transit. It makes no sense to talk about a 24-mile light rail from St. Pete to Clearwater, which would be a complete failure. — Please do not use my name.” “Steve, total and complete lack of political leadership in the region at all levels. When a Bass store creates such discussion you have to know that this area is trolling for small fry. No vision whatsoever from any entity is quite pathetic. — Jim Conefry” “Steve, Thanks for your article. The transit dialogue will go on for some time, but there is a building interest in finding ways to move goods and people around Tampa Bay. Your comments set the right tone for the discussion. — Bill Roberts” “Steve, You overlooked a few (basic) things, namely that: The cornucopia of (often contradictory) transportation strategies underscores the synergistic defects between the MPO mandarins and their counterparts at HARTline, while MPOers are prevaricators, their opposite numbers at HARTline are simply dysfunctional – and that’s putting it kindly. “The Tampa City Trotskyites view the citizenry of unincorporated Hillsborough as part of their Kolchosen that should be more than willing to pony up any amount of taxes to fund streetcars to nowhere, for the prestige of their fair epicenter. … Yeah, Steve, the people in unincorporated Hillsborough have seen and heard, and noted and ignored, the Hillsborough’s Professor Hills and his Music Men too many times; and, oh by the way, we have a HARTline bus in Sun City Center – but no bus station – another sad tale. — Jim Harkins, founder, South County Roundtable” “I always thought that building things from the top down was not generally good! — James Agnew (who included a long letter on transportation he says he has sent to every governor the past 30 years.)”

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