Appeals court backs tower

Tampa was wrong to reject the Citivest condo plan, it rules.

Published May 25, 2007

TAMPA - An appeals court agrees with developer Citivest that the Tampa City Council erred when rejecting the developer's plan for a 24-story condominium along Bayshore Boulevard.

In an opinion filed Wednesday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal affirmed a lower court ruling that faulted the city for basing its denial largely on the building's proposed height, 195 feet.

The court said the city allowed Hyde Park historic district design guidelines to trump zoning standards. Historic district guidelines, the court stated, "were never intended to conflict with or supersede the primary zoning designations."

Tampa's Architectural Review Commission called the building incompatible with surroundings at Bayshore and Bay to Bay boulevards. Traditionally, the commission uses historic district design guidelines to decide whether to recommend projects to the council.

The appellate opinion states: "Can the ARC, based on the criterion of 'scale, height and width' alone, limit a proposed structure to any particular height? No such power ... has been identified."

It was unclear Thursday how the ruling will affect Citivest's plans for the site.

Council member Linda Saul-Sena said City Attorney David Smith would meet individually with council members to discuss options.

The decision also raises questions about the role of the commission, which last week withheld endorsement of a project in Old Hyde Park Village because of the size of two condo towers.

Representatives for its developer, David Wasserman, said they planned to propose the project to the council anyway.

The appellate opinion repeated the Circuit Court's claim that "Tampa has created this quagmire of competing and seemingly inconsistent building requirements."

Stated the appellate court: "We fully concur with that opinion."

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