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Tampa's $43 Million RNC Makeover

If you've been to Tampa lately, you may have noticed the new landscaping on Bayshore Boulevard or the brightly lit bridges over the Hillsborough River.

You have the Republican National Convention to thank.

Much of the estimated $43 million improvements to the city are being paid for by the city and by a $50 million federal grant. Other private funders have chipped in as well.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how much is being spent because many of the projects expedited by the RNC were already on the drawing board. 

Also, others pitched in to cover costs. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have each spent $800,000 to upgrade their phone infrastructure in the convention center. Tampa Electric and TECO People's Gas are the founding sponsors of the "Lighting of the Bridges" project.

Here is a list of projects to be completed before the RNC from the city of Tampa.


Updates to the Tampa Convention Center

All of the media for the RNC will stage at TCC. So, the City has installed new signage  ($50K ), new landscaping and paint (20k), and new fiber optics and wi fi (800k). The fiber optics and wifi was a capital improvement project that has been in the works, but has been completed ahead of the event. 

Lighting of the Bridges

In January, Mayor Buckhorn unveiled the plans for "Agua Luces" ("Water Lights" in Spanish), a new, permanent art installation.  Chicago-based lighting artist Tracey Dear, who lit the bridges in Chicago as well as the Wrigley Building, was chosen for the installation through a juried process for "Lights on Tampa 2006." However, the project was not realized.

Bayshore Gateway

The enhancements include the use of colorful, low maintenance, Florida-friendly trees, shrubs and ground covers between Rome Avenue to Platt Street along Bayshore Boulevard. The total cost for all of the landscaping totaled $617k. 

Opportunity Corridors Project

Our "Opportunity Corridors" project is dressing up downtown by installing landscaping and lighting along the main transportation corridors going into downtown. The current project includes Ashley Drive, Doyle Carlton, and Orange/Jefferson I-275 Interchange among others. Prices for each project vary. 

Bayshore Boulevard Balustrade Improvements

The Bayshore Balustrade Improvements project repaired and restored the existing balustrade system along Bayshore Boulevard. The $1.2 million project also added additional protection from the effects of weather and the salt water environment. 

Demolition of Bayshore docks

36 dilapidated boat slips along Bayshore Boulevard were knocked down. They were originally a WPA project that had fallen into disrepair and disuse. 

Tampa History Museum Courtesy Docks and Harbour Island Sidewalk Connector

The boat slips behind the Tampa History Museum will allow boaters easy access to the museum, the Columbia café, Tampa Riverwalk and to downtown. Cost was $478,000. We have also added a sidewalk connection between Harbour Island (over Beneficial Bridge) to the Riverwalk. 

Riverwalk - CapTrust Segment

When complete, there will be continuous riverwalk from MacDill Park down to the Channelside area. Project is scheduled for completion in February 2013 although we hope that it will be completed in time for the RNC. 

Zack Street Promenade of the Arts

Zack Street Promenade of the Arts will increase pedestrian activity and connect Curtis Hixon to the Courthouse.  The $1.2 million investment consists of the construction of a pedestrian-friendly area with an emphasis on the integration of public art into the streetscape. The extended sidewalks, crosswalks, landscaping, and shade structures will be complete. All of the art will be installed after the RNC (that will include the bronze medallions, Gott's glass works, and the mosaic column at the corner of Zack and Ashley)

Restoration of Historic Clock Tower at Old City Hall

This is a $585k project to renovate the 100 year old clock tower on top of Old City Hall. The project includes removing and replacing the tower's leaking copper roof, rebuilding damaged columns, refinishing the metal clock face, and replacing lighting fixtures, the clock's hands, and the white filmed glass behind the clock face.

Renovating the Florida Avenue Mural (aka "Tampa Mural")

Carl Cowden is repainting the "Florida Avenue Mural," affectionately known as the "Tampa Mural," which evokes a vintage postcard depicting images of Tampa's past and present.  The mural was originally commissioned by the City of Tampa in 2003. Maintenance needed to be done to the surface of the wall the mural sat on. So, the mural was taken down, and the façade was refurbished. The mural is now being repainted, and will be complete by August 1, 2012. The cost to repaint the mural is $12k.

ADA/ Sidewalk Improvements in downtown

Improvements throughout downtown cost about $40k. We are replacing crushed sidewalks, ramps that did not meet ADA code, making repairs to bricks that have been damaged by tree growth. 


Sarah Pusateri is a former multimedia health policy reporter for Health News Florida, a project of WUSF. The Buffalo New York native most recently worked as a health reporter for Healthystate.org, a two year grant-funded project at WUSF. There, she co-produced an Emmy Award winning documentary called Uniform Betrayal: Rape in the Military.
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