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Museum board lauds mayor's latest site proposal

This is Mayor Pam Iorio's fourth attempt to find a suitable home for the Museum of Art in downtown Tampa.

By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published August 24, 2006

TAMPA - Museum of Art leaders on Wednesday agreed to consider the latest proposal for the museum's new home put forth by the mayor.

The art museum board voted unanimously to explore a proposal offered last week by Mayor Pam Iorio to move the museum to Curtis Hixon Park next to the Poe parking garage.

"We are excited about this site," said board member Hal Flowers, who heads the museum's building committee.

Board members agreed to begin doing "due diligence" to decide if the location works, he said.

"We're getting pretty good at this due diligence stuff," Flowers said. The new proposal is the fourth in 18 months for the museum's future.

The location on the Hillsborough River, adjacent to the proposed Riverwalk and in the park, appeals to board members.

"We are getting everything we want right now," said board vice chairwoman Sara Richter. "I'm very happy." But board members did raise questions about visibility from Ashley Drive, whether the site could accommodate a "grand entrance" and if it would offer access to trucks delivering large pieces of art.

Last year, financial problems killed a plan to build a $72-million art museum designed by a renowned architect on Ashley Drive. Iorio then proposed moving the art museum into the 100-year-old federal courthouse on Florida Avenue, but that idea failed for lack of public support.

Last week, Iorio announced that plans to move the art museum into a vacant office building on Kennedy Boulevard at Ashley Drive had fallen through amid concerns about the building's price and the costs of retrofitting the space.

She suggested moving the museum to Curtis Hixon Park, adjacent to the planned Children's Museum.

Board member Michael Bedke said he likes the concept, but hoped conversation about the art museum would soon move in another direction. "We've been talking about where we want to be when we grow up, not what we want to be," he said, noting that what's in the museum is more important to attract visitors than what the building looks like.

The building committee expects to make a recommendation on the site to the board within three weeks.

Janet Zink be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or 813 226-3401.

[Last modified August 24, 2006, 01:07:09]


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