Tampa plans to revitalize its downtown

December 17, 2012 by  

Downtown Tampa, Florida, has changed dramatically in 20 years, and more change is on the horizon, according to a recent report.

Two decades ago, half of those living downtown were incarcerated in the Morgan Street Jail. Today, thousands of people live in downtown high-rises and work in office towers. They shop downtown, enjoy the city’s restaurants, and jog beside Tampa Bay. Mayor Bob Buckhorn believes in his city and wants the current downtown to be a springboard for an even more vital area.

These goals are part of the InVision project, which is a long-term blueprint for making Tampa more livable, so that it will attract younger, creative people. Peter Sechler, who heads AECom, an Orlando firm that was instrumental in the planning process, says the plan is simply a continuation of a route Tampa is already following.

Mayor Buckhorn said the plan, as revealed in a 136-page report, is the end product of a great deal of work, but still only the beginning of the project. He says he hopes it will inspire future mayors and city governments to continue the work. He cited Tampa Riverwalk, which has been under construction for more than 30 years, as an example of a worthwhile undertaking that has taken years to complete.

Buckhorn says he wants to focus on “changing Tampa’s economic DNA,” shifting toward technology as the driver of Tampa’s economy. He hopes this will stop the “brain drain” that occurs when college graduates move elsewhere rather than staying in Tampa.

The city of Tampa could work with brochure printers to create a shorter version of the report for distribution to Tampa residents.