St. Pete museum defines area as ‘world-class destination,’ wins regional award
The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art received top honors from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council at the organization’s annual awards breakfast.
Tom and Mary James, Harvard Jolly Architecture, Wannemacher Jensen Architects and Yann Weymouth, design director, were named recipients of the One Bay McIntosh Award, for their work in developing the downtown St. Petersburg museum.
Former legislator and Regional Planning Council chair Victor Crist received the Herman W. Goldner Award for Regional Leadership, and 18 projects from throughout the Tampa Bay area, including the Cross Bay Ferry, were recognized as category winners at the Friday morning ceremony.
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council works with 27 west-central Florida municipalities to help those communities as they make long-range plans related to the future of the Tampa Bay region. The council’s Future of the Region Awards program highlights projects and programs that exemplify regionalism, and recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions that benefit the regional community.
The James Museum, which opened in April 2018, houses some of the personal art collection of Tom James, chairman emeritus of Raymond James Financial Inc. (NYSE: RJF), and his wife, Mary James.
It required a transformation of an eight-story parking garage. The first and second floors of the structure now contain 81,000 square feet of museum space and 45,000 square feet of future leaseholding shell space, said Patrick Roff, 2019 vice chair of the Regional Planning Council.
“The museum has become more than a regional cultural attraction for Tampa Bay,” Roff said. “It has helped define the city of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay as a world-class destination for the arts.”
Crist is a former state representative, former state senator and former Hillsborough County Commissioner.
“For more than three decades, he has been shepherding regional thinking civic engagement, economic development, and innovative public-private partnerships to improve the quality of life,” said Barbara Sheen Todd, also a past chair of the Regional Planning Council.
Crist stressed regionalism in accepting the award.
“We are so much stronger as a whole than we are separately. The Tampa Bay area has so much to offer than no one frankly can compete … Together we are very strong,” he said.
Here are the category award winners:
- Capitol Theatre: The City of Clearwater, which owns the theater, and Ruth Eckerd Hall each financed half of the historic downtown landmark’s $10 million renovation in 2013. Since then, the 737-seat gem has bolstered tourism and economic development and was ranked the world’s 15th best venue with 800 or fewer seats by Pollstar magazine in 2018.
- Tampa’s Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park redevelopment project converted a 25-acre park that was in disrepair into a vibrant, engaging and sustainable public space. The project involved more public input than any another project in the history of the Tampa recreation department.
- The Seminole City Center, developed by NADG/Primerica Group One, opened in 2017, transformed a once-struggling shopping center into a thriving hub of commerce and community gatherings. Along with stores and restaurants, the 424,000-square-foot mixed use center includes play areas, green space and trellised walkways.
Community preparedness and resiliency
- USF-Dunedin Community partnership: Dunedin’s Community Sustainability Partnership with the University of South Florida utilized the university’s students, faculty and research capabilities to address important planning issues within the city. The students provided data-driven recommendations at a fraction of the cost of a private consultant.
- Manatee County EMS Raptor 1: Raptor 1 is a transportation unit for mass casualties or large medical transports. It repurposes and retrofits heavy-duty transit coaches that have reached the end of their useful life into multi-casualty transport units.
- Pinellas County Sea Level Rise Planning Tool: The planning tool is a step-by-step approach for considering sea level rise and storm surge-related vulnerability and risk for capital plans and projects. A GIS viewer was constructed for consultants and local jurisdictions to use so they can visualize at-risk infrastructure as they make decisions.
- LiveWell Dunedin, an initiative promoting better health created by Dunedin’s Parks & Recreation department last year, has been well received by many of the town’s 35,000 residents. LiveWell Dunedin focuses on more than weight loss. It encourages people to get moving, find emotional peace, connect socially and eat better. The city promoted snack guides, exercise classes, camps and clubs through many avenues including its Facebook page, which has 21,000 followers.
- Largo’s Library in Your Neighborhood Bookmobile issued 158 library cards, welcomed 509 visitors and checked out 953 items in the first few weeks after it opened last year. The Greater Largo Library Foundation raised $675,000 for the vehicle, materials and five years of operating costs. It regularly visits recreation centers, community centers and assisted living facilities.
- Move Safe Pinellas is a social media campaign created by Pinellas Public Works aimed at keeping bicyclists and pedestrians safer. Along with disseminating videos about safety, the program distributes bike helmets and makes sure they fit right, gives out bike lights and spreads the word through Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day and the Great American Teach-in.
Economy and energy
- Port Tampa Bay’s Big Bend Channel Deepening and Widening: The $63 million construction project is expected to bring bigger ships, new jobs and freight efficiencies to the area. The funding strategy is unprecedented, with private companies partnering with public entities to dredge a federal channel.
- Creating Together Bradenton: City of Bradenton and Realize Bradenton’s project facilitated a resident-driven planning process to create a Master Plan to double the length of the downtown Riverwalk and extend it into the neighborhood where Bradenton was founded.
- Hillsborough County Economic Development Veterans Florida Agriculture Program: In partnership with UF/IFAS Research and Education Centers, the 9-month paid internship teaches veterans the agriculture and agribusiness industries. Since its inception in 2016, the program has a 100% job offer rate for those who complete the program.
- Safety Harbor Waterfront Park: The City of Safety Harbor’s 13-acre Waterfront Park has been revived with the creation of a preservation area, restored critical habitats and protection of ecologically sensitive areas throughout the wetland portion. The park was previously deteriorating with the accumulation of debris and overgrowth.
- Gulf Coast Oyster Recycle & Renewal Program: Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START) worked with local restaurants to establish the first oyster shell recycling program in Manatee County. The project resulted in 15 tons of recycled shells that were used to create 800 square feet of new oyster habitats.
- Old Tampa Bay Water Quality Improvement Project: The Florida Department of Transportation embarked on a series of projects to test improving water quality in Old Tampa Bay. A portion of the Courtney Campbell Causeway is being replaced to benefit sea grass resources and restore tidal circulation.
Transportation and mobility
- Big Bend Road Preliminary Land Use and Transportation Study: Hillsborough County Public Works created a process to integrate transportation and land use policy decisions to direct development to help frame the Big Bend Road corridor in South Hillsborough County, which will soon have its first new high school in 10 years.
- The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority’s Planes, Trains, & Busses initiative is about connections. Tampa International Airport opened its new Rental Car Center last year with a 1.4-mile SkyConnect train for transporting travelers in under five minutes. The airport also added a new transit stop to enable five new bus routes, including HART’s first express bus from Pasco County.
- St. Petersburg’s Cross Bay Ferry has been extremely successful, carrying close to 23,000 passengers on a direct route between St. Petersburg and Tampa in the December 2018-January 2019 timeframe alone. This new option for regional transportation has surpassed expectations and is often booked days in advance on the weekends.