TAMPA - The City of Tampa this week tore up a six-year-old development agreement for the Tampa Heights riverfront. Sounds like bad news, but many believe it's the best way to bring life to a long dormant stretch of waterfront just north of downtown Tampa.
In the boom years of the last decade, local investors had big plans for the 50 acres along the Hillsborough River.
But the near collapse of real estate, lending, and bond markets in 2008 scared off the money. Today, most of the property is in foreclosure.
"If we had done it earlier, maybe two or three years earlier and really got things off the ground, it would have been better. But who could have foreseen what was going to happen?" said Tampa Heights Jr. Civic Association President, Lena Young-Green.
Young-Green is a tireless community activist who helped develop the master plan for Tampa Heights and the waterfront.
"We had worked so many years to create that development agreement."
But this week, the city tore up that agreement, claiming so much time had passed, it no longer applied to the world of today.
"A completely different world," said Tampa Planning Director, Bob McDonough.
"Capital was easy to come by, there was unlimited demand and you could basically borrow to build anything."
But far from being a setback to people like Lena Young-Green, the cancellation of the agreement marks a fresh start that allows smaller projects to get started, including a restaurant in the old water works building, a fully developed park on the water and the final leg of the River walk.
"Certain obligations for both the city and the developer have now been taken off the table, so we can start with a fresh piece of paper and get this development going," said McDonough
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The remainder of the work week is looking like a summertime pattern with warm and humid days, a mix of sun and clouds. For the rest of the day, our chance for showers and storms continues.