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Ideas on redeveloping part of Treasure Island

A community planner says downtown's growth hinges on parking andbusinesses working together.

Published April 23, 2006

TREASURE ISLAND - If downtown is going to draw more people, it will need more parking.

That was one of the key themes that surfaced during a four-day planning session about the future of the city's business district.

Parking garages are an integral part of any effort to redevelop downtown, according to James Moore of HDR Inc., a Tampa community planning and urban design firm with experience in downtown redevelopment.

"It's a very, very critical issue," said Moore, adding that the city needs at least 100 additional spaces. "With no more room - the only alternative is to go to parking structures."

Four-story parking garages could be built within the city's height restrictions and designed to blend with local architecture, Moore told a group of residents Thursday night during the conclusion of the charrette, or planning session.

More than 50 residents, merchants and property owners participated in the event, designed to kick-start a strategy for redevelopment. The city paid Moore $127,000 to conduct the charrette.

Downtown should have a mix of retail, business and residential development, according to participants.

The only way to achieve that goal, Moore said, is through collaboration, and a lot of it.

"There is a fragmentation in the downtown that has to be overcome and there's no player here big enough to make it happen," he said.

"It would be great if a player came in with money and did it - but we can't presuppose that. I think it has to be some kind of public/private partnership."

Through a series of sketches and photos, Moore explained how downtown could be divided into quadrants - each about the size of a city block. Redevelopment in small increments is a feasible option, he said.

"The theme that I heard from everyone is that downtown Treasure Island could be so much more," said City Manager Ralph Stone, a former planner himself and a big proponent of the charrette. "Downtown is less than its potential by a long way."

Stone said Moore's group will take the suggestions from residents and study the economic issues and real estate market before finishing a report with recommendations.

The idea is to provide practical solutions for implementing redevelopment, said Stone, adding that the city already has done a lot of cosmetic improvements in the downtown corridor along 107th/Central Avenue.

"The goal here really has to be how do we get everybody moving more or less in the same direction?" Moore said. "If a place has really good streets ... people will stop and look around because it looks like a neat place."

[Last modified April 23, 2006, 11:23:43]

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