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Tampa moves ahead with plan to relocate municipal building

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The proposed Hanna Project. Illustration provided by Adam Smith, City of Tampa.

In early 2021, Tampa’s city council agreed to enter the pre-development phase for a proposal to relocate the city’s municipal services building from downtown to East Hanna Avenue.

The plan is an effort to expand city offices and revitalize surrounding neighborhoods. Its pre-development phase will include architectural services, traffic studies and demolition of the abandoned warehouse currently on the 13-acre property at 2515 E. Hanna Ave.

Next, the city will work with the offices set to inhabit the new space on drafting a plan for the building itself, before its move in early 2023. 

A fact sheet provided by Tampa’s Director of Communications Adam Smith estimated the project’s total cost at $59 million.

Adriana Colina, director of logistics and asset management for Tampa, is leading this redevelopment, nicknamed the Hanna Project, and says the planned move is partially a matter of necessity, and partially an effort to bring city services to a new part of town.

“The (current) building is just not conducive for what we need,” Colina said. “So we needed to find a new home, and owning the property that we had on Hanna, and seeing the positive impact we could have in that community, an area that has not had a significant investment like this in decades, it just made perfectly good sense.”

Hanna Avenue sits adjacent to the East Tampa Community Redevelopment Area, which despite some private investment in years prior, remains largely undeveloped by the city and other businesses. The Hanna Project would bring an estimated 500 city employees to work in the area.

Another goal of the complex, according to Colina, is to improve accessibility for East Tampa community members seeking city services. Among the six offices scheduled to move to the new site is the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department, which oversees the Equal Business Opportunity Office. Colina clarified that the Tampa Police Department will not be moving to the new facility.

The Tampa official also said the community reception has been positive, citing several public meetings at the site where locals shared their thoughts on the new development. 

According to members of the Lee Davis Neighborhood Development Corp, a community advocacy group in East Tampa, the community has been asking for this type of redevelopment for over 30 years. 

In St. Petersburg, similar conditions with the city’s municipal building and the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area are leading some officials to propose similar plans.

In June, City Council Member (and mayoral candidate) Robert Blackmon wrote a guest essay in the Catalyst’s Community Voices section to advocate moving St. Pete’s municipal services center from downtown to Tangerine Plaza on 22nd Street South.

According to Blackmon, the city discussed selling the site of its current municipal building, at 1 Fourth St N, for an estimated $12.2 million, and building a new downtown location for upwards of $40 million. The mayoral candidate and real estate investor thinks moving the building to the existing Tangerine Plaza would save money and serve as an anchor for other businesses to thrive around it.

“The purchasing power by replacing the current building will actually allow for real economic growth from the free market,” he said. 

Tangerine Plaza once housed a Sweetbay supermarket, followed by a Walmart Neighborhood Market, which moved out in 2017. The city has since taken over the shopping complex, but it has remained vacant of any major businesses.

Blackmon says his proposal for the complex will be a major facet of his mayoral campaign, and noted that Tampa’s Hanna Project provides “motivation” for a similar initiative in St. Pete.

“I don’t want to be behind the curve of Tampa,” he said.

 

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