TAMPA, Fla. - Under the shadows of Tampa's downtown skyline OlaVene Alexander takes a walk down memory lane. "Stars used to come here. Fat's Dominos, the Pips and the Temptations," she rattles off. That was nearly 50 years ago.
"We had service building stores, there were a lot of stores around. It was a nice place growing up as a kid," she said.
As the neighborhood deteriorated, her family, along with many others moved away.
"We can just make this a beautiful place much more than it is," she said.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn hopes that will change with a 30 million dollar grant from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"It was deplorable the children that lived in there deserved a better life and so did the residents," he said.
The first phase of the Encore project opened this week with Ella at Encore, an affordable apartment complex for seniors. Three other residential complexes are slated for construction.
"Today is a good day for Tampa a very good day for Tampa," Mayor Buckhorn told the media Thursday afternoon.
The city's ultimate vision is to reconnect Ybor City, Downtown, Channelside and Tampa Heights making the city whole while drawing more people to visit and live in the downtown area. Without the grant Buckhorn said the whole project would have been in danger.
" We would have been hard pressed to find a way to finish this without this funding from HUD," he said.
As for Alexander she moved back to her childhood home close to a year ago. She's now looking to move back into her old neighborhood that is changing once again.
"This city has come a long way and it is going even further," she said.
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