Monday Morning Memo

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Note from the President and CEO

Dear Friend of Downtown,

As we welcome another monumental year for Tampa’s Downtown, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a few key projects and initiatives from 2018 that truly highlight the successes, challenges, and growth our organization has experienced this past year.

The holiday season is especially magical for the Tampa Downtown Partnership as manager of Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park, presented by Tampa Bay Lightning. Now in its third year of operation, a record number of skaters and passersby enjoyed this outdoor skating rink experience that includes waterfront dining and holiday shops featuring local merchants. This installation continues to evolve year-over-year.  This past year we added a 360-degree choreographed light display paired with holiday music and sand sculptures providing additional photo opportunities to make our friends and family want to visit our beautiful Florida winter. Our Downtown has become the place for residents and guests to create their holiday memories and we look forward to making many more in the coming years.

Also this past year, the Tampa Downtown Partnership expanded the Special Services District (the “SSD” or “District”) boundaries to include portions of the Tampa Heights neighborhood. This expansion marks the first change in the District’s boundaries since it was created in 1994. In response to the growing needs and opportunities in Downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods, the Partnership held community meetings and round-table discussions with key stakeholders to address the specific and unique needs of the emerging neighborhood.  We’re extremely proud to serve the Tampa Heights neighborhood and to support its emerging urban character.

The Tampa Downtown Partnership staff, Board, and Executive Committee are all dedicated to continuing with the visions set forth in our strategic initiatives of responding to city center growth and expansion, transportation and circulation in Downtown, maximizing public space experiences, and the positive placement and continued relevancy of our organization. We couldn’t do our work without their support and that of our partners at the City of Tampa and surrounding communities.

With an enhanced focus on the business community, the Partnership will offer more events and opportunities for meaningful discussions regarding development, economic growth, and the future of Tampa’s Downtown. Advocacy will play a larger role this coming year as we face a Mayoral election and new legislative session. As a proactive leadership organization representing business, residents, and merchants, the Partnership is committed to serving as a catalyst to facilitate positive change and the development of public policies that improve the collective Downtown community.

I’m honored to work with a talented and extremely devoted staff and together, we look forward to working with you all to shape a Downtown Tampa that will continue to shine for current and future generations.




Lynda Remund, SHRM-CP
President and CEO
Tampa Downtown Partnership

Board Member Spotlight: Bryan Wilson

Bryan leads the architecture efforts for The Beck Group’s Tampa office, where he oversees design and manages operations. Bryan divides his time between implementing designs and developing staff, making sure that our team members have what they need to be successful growing professionals. A veteran of several large Beck integrated projects, Bryan also has responsibility for managing both the design and construction process on all integrated project deliveries in Florida.  He was a part of the award-winning University of South Florida Health’s CAMLS and Le Meridien Tampa projects. He believes the key to his leadership success came from working with Beck’s great team members in a culture focused on personal development. Known for his commitment to the community, Bryan serves on the Plant Museum board of trustees, is a graduate of Leadership Tampa Bay and supports several charitable organizations. Outside of work he can be found mountain biking, running, fishing or dining at one of Tampa Bay’s great restaurants.

Learn more.

Urban Excellence Award Winners Focus: TECO Line Streetcar Reimagined

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority was awarded the 2018 Urban Excellence Downtown Collaboration Award for their TECO Line Streetcar Reimagined: Free Fares and Modernization and Expansion Study project.

The following is pulled from an article titled “City of Tampa proposes plan to extend, modernize historic streetcar system” which first appeared on December 17 on 83 Degrees Media.

The current streetcar system traces a 2.7-mile path from Ybor City to the Channel District. The proposed extension would add a looped route north from the Channel District to Palm Avenue in Tampa Heights.

Among the feasibility study’s goals have been to define strategies; evaluate available vehicle technologies; estimate costs, benefits, and impacts; and coordinate with other planning efforts around the city.

The proposed extension plan would see an additional 1.3-mile loop added to the current streetcar system. Modernizing the system would include extending hours and upgrading vehicles, tracks, and stations.

The study has estimated a cost of up to $102.6 million for the extension and $69.9 million for modernization. The City of Tampa expects to receive funds from the Federal Transit Authority to support the extension effort but not modernization.

The end goal is to facilitate the development of downtown Tampa by providing better transportation options to the neighborhood’s 15,000 residents and roughly 100,000 weekly visitors.

“We did a lot to study prospective riders,” says Jean Duncan, Transportation and Stormwater Services Department Director for the City of Tampa. “We have weekly visitors, students, residents who are coming into the area. There is a mix of folks who are either coming downtown short term or long term. Many of them are interested in having a vehicle but it’s not practical. Our projections are positive that a lot of different types of folks will be riding this.”

Tampa has seen significant transportation changes this year. In October, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) received an $89,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, which saw the TECO Line Streetcar fares drop from $2.50 to free for the next three years. The grant also extended the streetcars services hours and frequency.

In November, Hillsborough County residents voted to approve a transportation funding referendum that will see a one-cent county sales tax increase, from seven cents to eight cents, for 30 years beginning in 2019.

That same month, the Cross-Bay Ferry returned to service, carrying passengers from Tampa to Saint Petersburg.

The extension and modernization plan was approved by the Federal Transportation Authority in June 2018. By March 2019, the city hopes to complete the National Environmental Policy Act review, with funding and financing plans following shortly after.

The estimated start date is January 2024.

About the award: This award recognizes a group partnership that has made a unique, positive contribution to Downtown; and has been responsible for a project or program that has complemented the work of the City of Tampa and the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

Finalists are chosen through a three-step process. First, the Tampa Downtown Partnership invites the public to submit nominations for each category. When the nomination period closes, each submission is considered based on the criteria set within each category. Finally, a panel of jurors representing a cross-section of downtown constituencies evaluate the nominations on a scale of 1-10 based on the criteria and their relation to six topics; innovation, creativity, engagement, sustainability, advancement, and impact.

See all of the winners.

Mayoral Candidate Forum: Join Us!

Be informed and join us for a chance to have your questions answered by the 2019 Mayoral Candidates on Wednesday, January 16th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at the Rialto Theatre. A panel discussion with Diane Egner of 83 Degrees Media as moderator will follow networking and casual conversation. Confirmed candidates: Jane Castor, Harry Cohen, Topher Morrison, Mike Suarez, Ed Turanchik, LaVaughn King, and David Straz. Register today! Interested in sponsorship for this event? Check out our Sponsorship Packet.

Your ticket includes one (1) beer or wine as well as light hors d’oeuvres.

Tickets are $27 for members and $42 for prospective members.

Presented by

Platinum Sponsors

 AARP Tampa Bay

Silver Sponsors
Gray | Robinson, RSA Consulting

Downtown Security Network Event: Human Trafficking

This edition of the Tampa Downtown Partnership Quarterly Downtown Security Network Breakfast will focus on human trafficking awareness and response. The discussion will include what signs property managers, security professionals, business leaders, and other stakeholders should be on the lookout for and how to take action. The event will take place January 24 at TECO Hall in Tampa’s Downtown with breakfast and registration starting at 7:15am and the program running 8am to 9am. Click here to register.

Parking Requirement Amendment Could Lead to Micro Housing

The Tampa City Council will consider changing some of its parking requirements for developers at a meeting on January 10.

Supporters of the proposal say it would help boost the city’s housing stock.

The proposal would amend the language of a city ordinance that requires each residential unit in downtown Tampa to have an off-street parking space.

Mickey Jacob with BDG Architects is Chairman of the Tampa Downtown Partnership. He said the requirement makes it a lot harder for developers to build housing because they need the space and funds to create parking for every potential resident.

His firm wants to build more “micro housing” downtown. Micro housing is a term for small condos and apartments that allow city-dwellers to trade space for cheaper rent or a short commute.

This type of housing is increasingly popping up in major cities across the country as high rents make it harder for middle- and low-income residents to afford a standard urban home.

Jacob and other supporters of the amendment want the Tampa City Council to change the rule so dwelling units that are 580 sq. ft. or less would only require half a parking spot.

“That’s a 50 percent reduction, that just made a lot of our projects more affordable to build,” Jacob said.

Some worry that the change could make parking more challenging in Tampa, forcing residents in micro housing developments to take up street parking if they couldn’t find a spot in their building.

But Jacob argues many of the people who would find micro housing attractive are the type who would willingly give up their car if they were able to get to work and stores through other means like public transit or walking.

He said downtown Tampa is well on its way to accommodate that, but added that there needs to be significant transit improvements in the region to make it easier for residents who don’t work in the urban core to commute.

Jacob hopes funding from the sales tax increase that went into effect Jan. 1 for transportation projects will eventually help.

The Council unanimously approved the proposal during its first-reading in December. Since it’s a text amendment and not a new measure, Jacob said the change could go into effect very quickly if approved on Jan. 10.

Jacob was a guest on a Florida Matters show on alternative housing, part of the week-long “Growing Unaffordable” series WUSF aired in December.

‘’Tampa Considers Changing A Parking Rule That Could Lead To More Micro Housing”WUSF Public Media – WUSF 89.7

All for Transportation Legality Questioned, Delays Projects

The extra penny sales tax passed in November 2018, allowing the region to collect more than $280 million that will be used to reduce congestion. But confusion remains about what the referendum truly means and what authority it gives decision makers.

The sales tax is also meant to be used to increase safety efforts.

The new 1 percent transportation sales surtax along with the half-penny surtax for schools is in addition to the current 7 percent sales tax, pushing up the county’s sales tax from 7 to 8.5 percent, the highest in the state.

Over 30 years, it would collect nearly $16 billion.

Proceeds from the transportation sales surtax to be collected breaks down like this: 54 percent is earmarked for roads, sidewalks and trails; and about 45 percent would go to bus and transit for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority.

But there is a delay. Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White recently filed a civil lawsuit challenging the legality of the sales tax.

The 10 named defendants include Hillsborough County, HART, the city of Tampa among other cities in Hillsborough County, and the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The filing alleges that money raised for transportation projects is in conflict with Florida statutes including the formation of an independent oversight committee.

The oversight committee, which comprises 13 members, will oversee the funds collected through the surtax. The committee will be made up of citizens, experts, an attorney, land use or real estate expert, and an accountant. The members must be appointed by various entities such as HART, Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser, cities and others.

Several members have already been appointed.

However, White argues that the unelected and unpaid committee of private citizens shouldn’t be given substantial powers over the huge fund of surtax proceeds, suggesting it’s not authorized by state law. The complaint also contends that it restricts commissioners from allocating money collected through the tax.

“The fact we believe the ballot summary was misleading, the major issue is about the system of government. This is bigger than Hillsborough County, this goes beyond the county. We are a system of laws, nation of laws,” White told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. 

“The oversight committee essentially has veto power over the County Commission,” White said in the complaint.

“I’m just asking for the judge to make a summary judgment ruling on my four counts. It’s a simple matter of law, we don’t need any evidentiary hearings,” White toldTBBJ.

The most recent action in the 28-page lawsuit was in late December when White filed a motion to expedite the process.

Getting involved

Although the All for Transportation citizens group responsible for managing the winning referenda is not listed in the current lawsuit, the group recently filed a motion to become a party in the suit. A hearing for that is scheduled in January.

“We remain confident that the All for Transportation plan, approved by more than 280,000 Hillsborough County voters, will withstand any legal scrutiny,” All for Transportation Attorney Brian Willis told the TBBJ in a prepared statement. “Commissioner White’s lawsuit is costing taxpayers more money while delaying the improvements needed to save lives and prevent accidents throughout our community.”

There are four counts in the lawsuit. White is also asserting that the charter amendment voters approved to raise money for transportation projects is in conflict with Florida statutes. He believes that All for Transportation should be involved in one of the counts, which asserts that the language in the ballot that All for Transportation wrote was flawed.

Recently elected Hillsborough County Commissioner Kim Overman disagrees.

“The language of the referendum should not change. It’s what the voters voted for,” she told the TBBJ. Overman is also one of the board members for HART. It is expecting to see nearly $124 million for this coming year from the surtax.

“The lawsuit has delayed approvals of vehicle purchases,” Overman said, explaining how the board couldn’t approve several purchases due to not knowing the outcome of the lawsuit, which could possibly result in a delay of delivering the funds promised to HART through the surtax.

A big win, nevertheless

Despite the legal fight, overall, many Tampa Bay businesses and transportation executives see the tax passage as a big win for the community.

Florida Department of Transportation executives say they stayed neutral on the subject, but does see the positivity of the referendum passing.

“If one passes like this one, any time we can find more resources for transportation that’s great,” FDOT District 7 Secretary David Gwynn said. “What’s really going to be great from our point of view and for people from different places is it’s going to allow us to partner on a lot more projects and we can actually go after big federal money.”

In the past, the region has often lacked the local funding piece, he said.

“We’ve never had a federal project here before,” Gwynn said. “Now that we have that, we can match it with our money, Hillsborough County would put up their percentage and the federal government can put up their 50 percent. That’s the biggest thing.”

FDOT Modal Development Administrator Ming Gao shared an example.

“Some other cities go as far as putting up more local funds. They only ask for 30 percent of local funds. This way they can get projects done a lot faster and with favorable consideration from the Feds because you have more local participation. It’s an advantage when you have a local dedicated source for transit,” Gao said.

“Voter-approved transportation sales tax referendum gets questioned, could delay funding projects”Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)

A New Era in Neighborhood for USF’s Medical School

A new era in a new neighborhood begins in 2019 for the University of South Florida’s medical school.

The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will be one of the first residents of Water Street Tampa, Jeff Vinik’s $3 billion, 53-acre, mixed-use urban development in downtown Tampa.

Some 1,800 students, faculty members and staff, plus 31 cardiovascular researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health, will occupy the 13-story, 395,000-square-foot tower when it opens in late 2019.

The project carries a budget of $172 million, with $112 million coming from the state and $40 million from fundraising. However, USF Health executives expect its new home to be an economic powerhouse. Once open for business, the Heart Institute should generate $66-$73 million per year in economic activity, officials say.

Being part of Water Street Tampa “will give us a tremendous competitive advantage, nationally,” says Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

Morsani, though, doesn’t need much in the way of advantages given how much the medical school’s star has risen of late.

Applications, for example, have surged — more than 6,000 applied in 2017. So to has the number of highly qualified candidates. The result? Morsani accepts about 4% of those who apply.

“When we looked at the average GPA and MCAT scores of our applicants, they were at an all-time high,” says Lockwood, 63, who’s in his fourth year leading the college after stints at New York University, Yale and Ohio State. “We’re getting applicants who might not have chosen us a decade ago. The applicant pool is much bigger, and it’s enriched with really top students. The people who apply want to be here and be doctors; they don’t want to go to Wall Street; this isn’t some sort of backup plan.”

But it’s not enough to attract the best and brightest medical minds. Lockwood would like to keep them here. In Water Street, Tampa General Hospital will be within walking distance, and Lockwood says Morsani is trying to expand and improve its residency program at TGH. About 40-45% of Morsani graduates stay and practice in the Tampa Bay region, he says, and even though that’s not a problem specific to USF, he’d like to see that number rise.

“Florida is an exporter of medical students,” he says. “We have way too many medical graduates compared to residency slots. It’s a big problem. If you can’t get a residency slot here, then you have to go out of state, but if you go out of state, there’s a good chance you’re not going to come back.”

USF Health also looks to make an impact in 2019 through its doctors’ participation in the Tampa Bay Health Alliance. A network formed in 2016 that involves five major physician groups in the Tampa Bay area, TBHA is led by Dan Vukmer, who saw an opportunity to disrupt the way the delivery of medical care is organized and paid for.

“One of the things that really interested me about Tampa Bay is that the health care is very fragmented here,” says Vukmer, who also serves as USF’s chief strategy officer and works in an office down the hall from Lockwood. “It’s unlike other major metropolitan areas where you have one or two big systems and they own all the physicians and compete head to head.”

One way of looking at that, Vukmer says, is “the BayCare way — buy them all up.” But many small private practitioners don’t want to be bought up, he says, so the solution is to find “a mechanism to bring them together and integrate the care a little better.”

Part of that mechanism, which Vukmer will be working on throughout 2019 with hopes of launching in 2020, is a direct-to-employer health insurance system that will rival big players like Cigna and Aetna. Employees of the five physician groups will be the first to be covered.

“We can be the guinea pigs,” Vukmer says. “We can figure out what works and what doesn’t — what’s best for the patient, what reduces costs, all of those things. We’ll experiment on ourselves, in a good way.”

“House call: $172M new home for health care institution”Business Observer

Gasparilla 2019: Everything You Need to Know

Since 1904, pirates have been invading Tampa for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest!

Pirate accents and eye patches will be aplenty and parking and traffic will be busy. Here’s everything you need to know about the annual throw-down.

The 2019 Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa Gasparilla Pirate Fest kicks off on Saturday, January 26.

The Gasparilla Invasion will start at 11 a.m. when the world’s only fully-rigged pirate ship, the Jose Gasparilla, sets sail at the south end of Hillsborough Bay and travels north to Seddon Channel to dock at the Tampa Convention Center.

A Gasparilla Brunch will be held at the Tampa Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are required for this event. Get more info here .

The Parade of the Pirates begins at 2 p.m. The parade will begin at Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. It will continue along Bayshore Boulevard to Brorein Street turning east on Brorein Street and then north on Ashley Drive. The parade will end at Cass Street and Ashley Drive. The parade is FREE to attend. You can purchase reserved seating here .

City of Tampa Traffic & Parking Advisory for the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates – Saturday, January 26

Avast ye! The City of Tampa wants you to be prepared for heavier than normal traffic on Saturday, January 26, 2019 in downtown and south Tampa as we batten down the hatches and prepare for great fun and high adventure during the 102nd Annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest!

The pirates arrive by sea as the fully rigged Jose Gasparilla sails into Seddon Channel and docks at the Tampa Convention Center at 1 p.m. Then, the marauding buccaneers gather at the intersection of Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard for the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates, which steps off at 2 p.m. The parade continues along Bayshore Boulevard to Brorein Street, turns east on Brorein Street, then north on Ashley Drive. The parade ends in downtown Tampa at Cass Street and Ashley Drive.

One of the most popular attractions in Tampa is the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest, which has been a tradition in Tampa since 1905. Over 300,000 spectators are expected to line the streets to watch the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza on January 19, 2019 and the Gasparilla Pirate Fest on January 26, 2019. In order to accommodate the parades, many streets will be closed. View this page for information about the events, street closures, parade routes and other information that will help you enjoy the festivities safely.

Acardis Add to Downtown Tampa Portfolio

The most prolific land buyers in downtown Tampa have scored another acquisition.

Twin brothers John and Jason Accardi say they have acquired the surface parking lot at 801 N. Ashley Drive, between the Element apartment tower and William F. Poe Parking Garage. The Accardis own and operate Seven One Seven Parking Services Inc., a national parking and valet company.

The acquisition of the 1-acre lot is the latest in a series of purchases the Accardis have made in the last three months. At the end of November, the brothers purchased a full city block at 602 E. Cass St.; in October, they acquired the Le Meridien parking garage.

The seller was TECO Properties Corp. A purchase price was not disclosed, and a deed for the transaction has not yet been filed.

“The acquisition of this flagship property is an ideal addition to our current Downtown Tampa real estate portfolio,” Jason Accardi said in a statement. “We are very excited to begin to investigate its long-term development possibilities while continuing to accommodate downtown’s growing parking storage needs.”

The lot is currently used for both public parking and for TECO employees.

“Accardis acquire another prime block in downtown Tampa” Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)

Downtown Calendar

Your Downtown Calendar

The following is just a sample of upcoming events in Downtown Tampa.  Visit the Downtown Tampa Events Calendar for a more comprehensive list.

Art on HART Unveiling

Wednesday, January 9, begins 9am
Marion Transit Center
Join Tampa Bay Foundation for Architecture and Design and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit as they team up to unveil a rolling art display. This project is part of TBFAD’s initiative which places artists’ one-of-a-kind designs in highly accessible and visible public spaces. This 40-foot moving art canvas brings together art, music and public transportation onto the streets of our community! For more information, go to Art on HART Unveiling.

Heights Night Market

Wednesday, January 9, begins 6pm
Armature Works
A monthly evening market taking place on 7th Ave in front of Armature Works, feature a rotating cast of artisanal creators, makers, and artists selling handmade goods, jewelry, art, wood-work, gifts and so much more. Heights Night Market is free to attend, family-friendly, and features live music at each event. For more information, go to Heights Night Market.

Rotary Club of Tampa Gasparilla Bash

Saturday, January 12, begins 7pm
Rialto Theatre
This inclusive pirate costume party will feature live music from local favorite The Black Honkeys, as well as generous hors d’oeuvres provided by food partners. A cash bar is provided by St. Petersburg Distillery featuring the event’s signature cocktail, a Smokin’ Seadog, reminiscent of an old fashioned served in a smoke-filled glass made with Old St. Pete sweet corn whiskey. For more information, go to Rotary Club of Tampa Gasparilla Bash.

Taking the Stage at the Straz Center

Othello by William Shakespeare – Wednesday, January 9 to Sunday, February 3
Latin Nights – Thursday, January 10, begins 9pm
Arts Legacy REMIX:  MLK Praise – Friday, January 11, 6:30pm to 9:30pm
The Florida Orchestra – Unforgettable: 100 Years of Nat & Natalie – Friday, January 11, begins 8pm
Patel Conservatory presents Winter Cabaret – Saturday, January 12, begins 6pm

On the Marquee at Tampa Theatre

Mary Queen of Scots – Through Thursday, January 10
The Wizard (1989) – Friday, January 11, 10:30pm to 1:15am

This Week at Amalie Arena

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets – Tuesday, January 8, begins 7:30pm
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Carolina Hurricanes – Thursday, January 10, begins 7:30pm
Winter Jam 2019 – Saturday, January 12, begins 7pm

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Monday Morning Memo –Monday Morning Memo is a weekly update of “insider downtown information” regarding developments, transportation, special opportunities and other useful information to help you make the most of downtown. Subscribe to receive this weekly newsletter.

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