With plans for a condo tower, Bayshore users may have to find new parking spots
SOUTH TAMPA - Every afternoon, right around rush hour, a steady trickle of cars pulls into the lot at Bayshore and Bay to Bay boulevards. By about 6 p.m. the lot is full. Joggers take a minute to stretch before they take off running, and parents pack their children into strollers before heading out to Bayshore, Tampa's signature esplanade. The city for years has leased Bayshore Interim Park and parking lot. The dirt- and mulch-covered lot is the parking spot of choice for hundreds of people who regularly stroll, exercise or just take in the waterfront scenery along Bayshore Boulevard. But if plans to build a 15-story condo tower move forward, those Bayshore users will have to find somewhere else to park."That would be extremely inconvenient for my lifestyle," said Monica Carter, 20, who often parks in the lot when she skates or jogs along Bayshore. Plans to develop the lot into a luxury condominium building were shelved in 2006 because of the real estate crash, but Citivest Construction once again is marketing units at a half-million dollars each. Whether the firm can sign up enough potential buyers will determine if it can close on the financing and get to work on the project. In addition to the lot at Bay to Bay, the city advertises parking at Ballast Point Park and nearby Fred Ball Park. But the dirt lot, officially dubbed Patriot Corner, is in a prime location. It's near a water fountain and a stoplight and crosswalk for those who want to cross to the other side of busy Bayshore. For years the lot has been used by the Bayshore Patriots, a group that has gathered every Friday since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to wave American flags at passing cars. A sliver of the corner that is owned by the city is home to a flagpole and a 9/11 memorial plaque. Bill Hamblin, a founding member and president of the Bayshore Patriots, said nearby business probably will allow the group to park in their lots on Friday afternoons. "It's inevitable," Hamblin said of the planned development. "We're not really going to worry about it. I don't think it will really affect us much." It's the people who came to Bayshore for a walk or a run who are going to be affected, he said. Whitney Neal, 19, parks in the lot before her run on Bayshore early every morning. She said she lives too far away to walk from her house, which is the case for many people who come out to enjoy the scenic stretch. "It's definitely going to affect them in the long run," she said. Ebehrman@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7691 Twitter: @LizBehrmanTBO
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