Last night the Tampa City Council gave preliminary approval for the Residences at the Riverwalk, the proposed 36 story apartment tower smack in the middle of the performing arts district, adjacent to the Straz Performing Arts Center and the northern reach of the Tampa Riverwalk.
Council members voted 5-2 to rezone the acre of city-owned land west of the John F. Germany Library where the tower will stand. They also approved a city request to vacate ownership of Tyler and Cass streets within the tower footprint.
The proposal drew a packed house for a hearing that ran more than three hours. The final vote will be at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 22.The parcel of land is currently owned by the city of Tampa. This tower will be crammed in a one acre parcel being sold by the city of Tampa for $4 million to the developer, a price above the appraised value. In turn, the developers will donate an unrestricted $1 million to the Straz, whose board originally opposed the tower.
Actually, that parcel is really not there, it will have to be created. They will have to reroute Tyler and Cass streets, change them from one-way to two-way streets, reconfigure the Straz drop off area where Tyler will now dead end, in order to create that one acre of space.
The new tower will be about 500 feet tall, in the arts district (considered west of Ashley), where there is no other residential or commercial development. It will be about 3 times taller than the Straz itself, hence the vote on the zoning change to allow the out of place, high rise tower. 380 residences are planned along with about 10,000 square feet of retail space. Estimates are they'll be able to stack and pack 500 people in that one acre.
We at the Eye went down to the area and took a look around to see for ourselves to try to understand how they'll shoehorn this thing in.
The Riverwalk vision was as a linear park along the river for Tampa citizens to enjoy and be aesthetically appealing, which we at the Eye have enjoyed personally. Will we now get a Canyon of Towers instead?