Board says no to Hyde Park plan

But the City Council will get the last word when it considers the rezoning application.

Published May 10, 2007

TAMPA - In a 6-1 vote shortly before midnight, the Tampa Architectural Review Commission rejected a developer's bid to build a 10-story condominium in Hyde Park Village.

ARC member Keith Roberts called it out of character with the historic neighborhood and something that would "visually overwhelm" the surrounding old homes and bungalows.

ARC member David Ferrill was in favor of the project and voted against turning it down.

The decision is an advisory opinion for the Tampa City Council, which has the option of accepting or ignoring it in considering the rezoning application.

Richard Seges, a vice president with the builder, Wasserman Real Estate, said they will take the project to the City Council at a hearing in July.

The prevailing public sentiment at Tuesday's ARC meeting was thanks, but no thanks.

Residents of the historic neighborhood conceded that the retail complex is failing, and said they were pleased that a big-time developer, David Wasserman, wants to revitalize it.

But about 50 people attended the meeting at Tampa City Hall, and most of those who spoke argued that his plan, which includes two high-rise condominiums, doesn't belong there.

Ultimately, ARC agreed.

Because Hyde Park is a designated historic district, any development in the area must be reviewed by ARC. Any changes are supposed to be "consistent with and preserve the historical dignity of the district."

Del Acosta, the city's historic preservation manager, recited to board members a lengthy list of areas in which he considered Wasserman's plan inconsistent with Hyde Park's character.

The biggest sticking point seems to be the high-rises, one of which could be 10 stories and more than 100 feet tall, the other nine stories and almost 90 feet.

Residents waited almost four hours to speak at Tuesday's meeting, which began at 5:30 p.m. A couple of speakers did support the plan, most suggesting resurrecting the village was worth adding some density and height. But most spoke against it.

"I think this neighborhood is ready to embrace change, but any new construction must adhere to the Hyde Park guidelines," said Cindy Ramm. She called the plan a "radical change" for Hyde Park.

"I appreciate the Wassermans for wanting to revitalize Hyde Park," said Chandra Henthorne, a longtime resident. "But I'm adamantly opposed to what is being proposed. I'm asking that we massively reduce the mass, the height and density."

Rick Gershman can be reached at rgershman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3431.