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3 housing projects inching forward

The developments will add hundreds of homes and apartments - and traffic problems, according to critics.

By RON MATUS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 26, 2002


Step by step, three proposed housing developments in Port Tampa and Interbay continue to move ahead.

On July 18, Tampa City Council approved a zoning change vital to a proposed 288-unit apartment complex on S Lois Avenue. The complex would replace an industrial-sized mulch operation that annoyed neighbors because of dust and fires.

At the same meeting, the council was scheduled to consider a New Urbanism-style development on 12 acres in Port Tampa. At the developer's request, the zoning change was postponed until Aug. 22.

Meanwhile, construction is set to begin this fall on 28 townhomes at the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Interbay Boulevard.

Residents expect bigger development waves ahead.

"We're going to get more and more of these," Port Tampa resident Tom Vento told City Council before pleading for better roads. "It's going to have a cumulative effect."

Many residents are happy to see the mulch operation go.

For years, they have complained about the dust, smoke, fire and bad smells the site spawned. Tampa Bay Organics, the company that took over the operation in 1999, installed sprinklers and met with neighbors, but couldn't sell the mulch fast enough to eliminate complaints.

Cornerstone Development Group of Coral Gables is expected to begin building apartments on the 14-acre site next summer.

The complex will be similar to Clipper Cove, a development Cornerstone built a block away on Interbay Boulevard.

After the council's unanimous vote, Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena said she was pleased the site would turn into a "neighborhood amenity."

Huge mounds of mulch remain. Neighbors said trucks appear to be rapidly hauling material away.

Some residents appear less enthused about a proposed development a few blocks away.

Port Tampa Communities wants to build 34 single-family houses and 60 townhomes. The company expects to sell the houses for $165,000 to $190,000 and the townhomes for $120,000 to $150,000.

Members of the Port Tampa Civic Association voted to support the plan, but some neighbors object, primarily because of worries that too much traffic will spill onto narrow Shamrock Road.

To win over residents, developer Carter McCain offered to redesign the project. Traffic could be absorbed by other streets, some of which he would improve, he said.

Some residents still weren't satisfied.

At a packed meeting July 11, McCain got testy.

He pointed out the land is already zoned for 63 single-family homes, which could be built without city approval.

"This is a difficult project that will be developed," he said, offering residents a chance to shape the project.

McCain said developers asked the City Council to delay a decision at city staff's request.

"By the time we get there in August, I'm pretty comfortable that staff will have signed off on everything," he said last week. "They're pretty close to that now."

City officials okayed a zoning change for the other set of townhomes, the ones near Manhattan and Interbay, a month ago.

Paul Wiezorek, sales director for Tampa Bay Development, said building should be complete by the end of next year.

He said the homes likely will sell for $130,000 to $150,000.

-- Writer Ron Matus can be reached at 226-3405 or matus@sptimes.com.

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