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Central Park Village changes plans

Council approval is needed for fewer homes, more retail space.

By JANET ZINK
Published June 8, 2007


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photo
[Courtesy of Collman & Karsky Architects]
Plans for Central Park Village include rental units and for-sale units in buildings ranging from seven to 28 stories, with the highrise on the south end of the project closer to downtown Tampa.

TAMPA - Changes in the real estate market and the prospect of property tax cuts have forced the developers of Central Park Village to modify their plans for remaking an old public housing complex between downtown and Ybor City.

Most significant, Bank of America wants the option to replace up to 680 condominiums with hotels, retail stores and office space.

"We want the flexibility to respond to the market," said Roxanne Amoroso, senior vice president of community development banking for Bank of America.

That could mean a loss of about 68 affordable homes that were to be developed and sold on the 28-acre property.

It is zoned for up to 2,000 units. Original plans called for 1,100 condominiums.

"That's heavy with all that's happened in the market over the last 18 months," Amoroso said.

More than 3,000 condominiums are finished or being built in and around downtown. Another 6,600 are scheduled to come on line in the next 10 years. But many of the projects are struggling in the face of a softening residential real estate market.

Bank of America also plans to build 750 apartments on the property. Nearly 670 of those apartments will be for low-income renters. They'll replace the 483 public housing units now in Central Park Village.

Amoroso said the bank also expects to take a hit once the Florida Legislature approves property tax reforms.

The land is part of a special taxing district where increases in property tax revenue collected in the neighborhood are funneled back into the area to pay for such things as roads, parks and sewer lines. Property tax reform could mean less money to rebuild Central Park Village.

Leroy Moore, chief operating officer of the Tampa Housing Authority, a partner with Bank of America on the project, said in the worst-case scenario, only two of five parking garages slated for the development would be built.

"We would have to find another funding source to get those built," he said.

Amoroso said that won't be a problem. "We're going forward," she said.

Any changes in the plans will need the approval of the Tampa City Council.

Council member Tom Scott, who has been advocating for three years for the redevelopment of Central Park Village, said he's eager to hear about Bank of America's latest plans.

"I hope it gets done. I hope Bank of America doesn't let this community down," he said. "If any area needs to be redeveloped, this is the area."

Plans for redeveloping Central Park Village have changed several times. In 2003, local developers proposed remaking it as part of a 157-acre overhaul of several neighborhoods. But that concept failed.

A year later, some of those original developers, along with Bank of America, offered a 60-acre plan. But one of the major property owners pulled out, and the local backers followed.

That left Bank of America with 28 acres of Tampa Housing Authority land to work with.

Amoroso said the bank remains committed, and the latest challenges are "no more than there would be with any development of this magnitude."

Residents are already moving out of Central Park Village. Only about 100 people remain, said Mary Williams, president of the Central Park residents association.

Demolition should begin at the end of July and take until December, Moore said. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2008.

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

[Last modified June 8, 2007, 00:20:01]


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