Tampa council OKs sale of river land for 36-story condo
TAMPA - The City Council this morning approved the sale of an acre of city land near the Straz Center for the construction of a 36-story apartment tower. Council members voted 7-0 in favor of the sale after about an hour of discussion. Developers Greg Minder and Phillip Smith will pay the city $4 million for the property, which has a value of about $1.4 million, according to city officials. The property the city is selling lies just west of the John F. Germany Public Library and south of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. The land is fragmented by Tyler Street and an unnamed road spur linking Tyler with Cass Street.About $2.5 million of the sale proceeds will go into realigning the streets and reconfiguring the land for development. The land will have to be surveyed to determine its actual boundaries, said Bob McDonaugh, who oversees the city's economic development efforts. Developers Greg Minder and Phillip Smith proposed the tower last fall after Mayor Bob Buckhorn put out a call for possible uses of the property. Minder and Smith built downtown's Skypoint and Element residential towers in the mid-2000s. Minder and Smith said they hope to break ground on the new tower this summer. It will be "distinctly different" from their previous projects but the exact design hasn't been determined, Smith said. "We've just really scratched the surface on the design," Smith told the council. He and Minder told the council they may design the building in the New York Art Deco style, using the 38-story Fred French Building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan as an inspiration. The developers estimate their tower will generate $1 million or more in property taxes when it is fully occupied. Rather than directly into the city's budget, those property taxes will go to the Downtown Non-Core Community Redevelopment Area until at least 2018, when the district expires. Under the rules of the district, any new property taxes generated there by construction go back into the district to improve streets, utilities and other public property. The redevelopment district encompasses most of the Central Business District between Cass Street and Kennedy Boulevard. It also runs north along the river to Interstate 275 and south to Whiting Street. City officials plan to piggy-back the final leg of the Riverwalk on the tower project. The stretch of Riverwalk north of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park will leave the east bank of the river just far enough to cross the CSX railroad tracks and Cass Street adjacent to the apartment tower. The tower will include ground-level shops and restaurants.
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