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    A Times Editorial

    Ybor better off without project

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 20, 2002

    Tampa City Council member Mary Alvarez, who's economical with words, didn't need many to describe a proposed mega-bar for historic Ybor City: "It's horrible," she told the Times. We are glad the mayor's office agreed. Last week, the administration filed an appeal to have the nightclub project killed.

    There are plenty of legitimate reasons this complex should not be built. It is too large and too contemporary, and having a modern design at the gateway to Tampa's old Latin Quarter would spoil the look and feel of Ybor. The city has spent millions of tax dollars in a risky venture to restore the old character of Ybor, hoping the district takes off as Tampa's premier tourist district. A monstrosity like this would set those efforts back.

    The architect got it wrong in faulting his critics. "Architecture is sometimes esoteric -- it doesn't mean that everybody understands it," he said. This is not some subjective game about art or beauty. Standards exist in historic districts so communities can appreciate and preserve their past. The Latin experience in Tampa is a fundamental part of the city's history, and that heritage is alive today because of the values and social bonds that grew out of Ybor City. This is no place for experiments.

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