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Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Skypoint resident sues Tampa to preserve view

TAMPA — A resident of downtown’s Skypoint condo tower has filed a lawsuit seeking a halt to plans for the Residence at the Riverwalk tower, saying it will spoil his view.

Attorney John P. Baker filed suit against the city Sept. 20, less than a month after the Tampa City Council rezoned an acre of city-owned land straddling the junction of Tyler and Cass streets to allow for the 400-foot high-rise.

At that same meeting, council members voted 5-1 to vacate part of Tyler to allow the west end of the street to be relocated as part of the tower project.

Both decisions drew strong support from residents of downtown and the Channel District.

In his lawsuit, Baker is asking Hillsborough County Circuit Court to overturn those two decisions and block the city from proceeding with the Residences tower.

Tampa City Attorney Julia Mandell declined to address the specifics of Baker’s suit.

“We will vigorously defend this matter has to the regulatory entity and the property owner,” Mandell said.

Baker argues that the council’s actions were a “rushed and haphazard process” that went against the city’s long-range plan, which encourages low-rise, non-residential uses in the city’s riverfront Cultural Arts District.

The district encompasses the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the John F. Germany Public Library and the Tampa Museum of Art. It also stretches south to include Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Kiley Gardens.

The plan is currently being revised, but an earlier version, published in 2003, includes a 200-unit residential tower in an unspecified location within the Cultural Arts District.

In his lawsuit, Baker says he bought his 15th-floor condo partly for the sweeping views of the Hillsborough River and Cultural Arts District.

“These views were very important to Mr. Baker when he selected his unit,” the suit says, adding that Baker relied on the promise of the long-range plan when he decided to buy his condo unit.

Building a tower 600 feet from his own tower, Baker argues, will impair his view and decrease his property value. Baker paid $255,000 for his condo in February 2012, according to county property records. The previous owner paid $438,800 five years before.

The dust and noise from construction of the proposed Residences tower will also harm Baker’s quality of life, the lawsuit says.

The Residences project began last year when the city sought proposals for the one-acre site between the Germany library and the river.

Intown/Framework LLC, the partnership that developed Skypoint and The Element tower, was the only group to answer the city’s request.

The developers have said they’ll wait until next summer to begin work on Tyler Street to avoid disruptions to the Straz’s Broadway series of shows.

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Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO

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