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Politics / Issues

Height Restriction Waived for River Tower

straz_tower_cropped.jpg
Framework Group, LLC.

Tampa City Council Thursday night approved a controversial 36-story apartment tower planned along Tampa's downtown riverfront next to the Straz Center for Performing Arts.

The vote waived a 120-foot height restriction so the 400-foot skyscraper can go up, streets closed and traffic rerouted.

Critics said the project, planned on an acre of city flower beds and street intersections behind the Germany Library,  will add traffic and block the library's view. Others don’t think an apartment complex belongs in the Arts District and dense residential development should be kept east of Ashley Drive.

Council member Harry Cohen voted for the development saying the density of 380 apartments and 10,000 square feet of restaurants and retail space belongs in the downtown.

“Read something interesting recently in the Tampa Bay Times which absolutely editorialized against this project,” Cohen said. “But when they came out in support of the Lens on the other side of Tampa Bay (laughter) and I'm not, I'm not comparing the two projects other than to say this statement that they made: Innovative designs for iconic public places are often initially controversial and revered by future generations.”

Toward the end of the rezoning meeting that lasted more than three hours, Tampa Council Chairman Charlie Miranda, who also favored the development,  said he remembers when downtown Tampa was active and even had a grocery store.

“When you look at business, you can compare it to government. You see if a business does not grow, it's dying and if a city does not grow it is also dying,” Miranda said. “This city has prospered through the worst of times and looking forward to the best of times. This is not the end. This is the beginning of something.”

Tampa City Council will hold a second and final vote on the rezoning and land variances the morning of August 22, 2013. Developers previously conceded to not start construction until the Straz Center's Broadway series is finished next spring.

Voting against the rezoning were council members Yvonne Yolid Capin and Mary Mulhern. Other members who approved the project were Mike Suarez, Frank Reddick, and Lisa Montelione.

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