Tampa considers turning over land for river apartments
City Council members this evening will consider giving up ownership of the Cass and Tyler street intersection in the first formal step toward building a new 400-foot-tall residential tower along the Hillsborough River.
The 6 p.m. council session at Old City Hall will also include a rezoning request from Intown/Framework Group LLC, the developers planning to build the tower. The rezoning would allow the tower exceed the 120-foot height restriction in the city's Central Business District.
Intown/Framework developed the city's Skypoint and Element towers during the residential building boom of the last decade. Both buildings struggled for occupants after the housing collapse in 2008 but have emerged in recent years as popular addresses.
Today, both are fully occupied – Skypoint by condo owners, Element by rental tenants.
Developers Philip Smith and Greg Minder have said the new tower will cater to rental tenants.
They proposed their project last fall when Mayor Bob Buckhorn put out a call for ways to use the one-acre, city-owned site bounded on the north by the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and on the east by the John F. Germany Public Library.
Under the deal with Buckhorn, the pair will pay the city $4 million for the lot the tower will occupy on the north side of Cass Street. The payment will cover the city's cost of reorienting the streets around the building.
The sale of the lot depends on the project winning approval for its rezoning, street vacation and development plan, said Bob McDonough, the city's director of economic opportunity.
The project calls for turning Cass into a two-way street between the river and Orange Street. Tyler will be straightened and dead-end in a new parking area outside the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
The project sits in Councilman Frank Reddick's district. Reddick said Wednesday he has no objection to the items up for discussion tonight but is concerned about how the building will interact with its neighbors.
Of particular concern, Reddick said, is maintaining rear access to the library. Visitors can now enter the library from the back through the walk-over between the library and the city-owned Poe parking garage.
“If there's any indication they plan to eliminate that portion, I'm going to have a problem,” Reddick said.
Plans for the new tower could alter the existing walk-over, which cross Cass and Tyler on its way to the Straz Center. Tentative plans the developers revealed last fall call for eliminating the segment over Tyler. The segment over Cass would remain, and Straz visitors would travel through the building to reach the street.
Smith said Wednesday the developers are working on redesigning Cass and Tyler to carry two-way traffic. They're also circulating an early draft of their development agreement within the city's regulatory departments, he said.