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Bus stop gets discreet niche near upscale Tampa mall

After much to and fro about the bus stop and its placement near the new mall, an agreement settles the matter.

By AMY HERDY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 16, 2002


TAMPA -- It took several months, but officials with Tampa's International Plaza and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority have agreed on the terms of a new bus stop near the upscale mall.

The agreement calls for a Key West-style bus shelter to be built on the perimeter road of the mall, near the south entrance of the Dillard's department store, said HARTline spokesman Ed Crawford.

The shelter will feature a "traditional metal roof with plexiglass sides," Crawford said, "and an attractive solar lighting system, built-in." He expects construction to begin in two weeks and the project to be completed by mid-summer.

Concorde Cos., a co-developer of the business park that includes the mall, will pay $20,000 to HARTline for the construction of the bus shelter, Crawford said.

HARTline will assume an additional $25,000 in costs for the stop, which will be designed with a bus bay to handle two buses, he said.

As for the delay in coming to an agreement, Crawford said there were several parties involved who had to sign off on the deal.

The mall, which opened in September, targets upper-income shoppers with stores including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Mall officials initially said they were concerned about heavy buses damaging parking lot pavement, gobbling up parking spaces and creating possible liability for the mall.

A previous plan had the nearest bus stop about a quarter-mile from the mall, and would have forced some bus riders to cross busy thoroughfares.

Following growing criticism about the absence of bus stops, the mall's managers decided to start a free shuttle service between the mall and nearby bus stops. In September, they decided to allow a bus stop.

-- A note to readers: In June, the St. Petersburg Times signed a five-year marketing and sponsorship agreement with International Plaza. While the agreement makes the Times the "official newspaper" of International Plaza, it also contains provisions emphasizing that the business relationship will have no effect on the newspaper's coverage of the mall.

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