TAMPA - Kennedy Boulevard is the gateway into downtown Tampa. Some stretches, commuters will tell you, look well-kept and some don’t.
"The other parts of Kennedy Boulevard tend to be a little shabby," said commuter Cheryl Austin.
But what's unfolding on a swath of land just west of the University of Tampa's campus, will help transform the downtown Tampa corridor.
"I would say though that what we're doing on Kennedy is going to be a dramatic improvement for the way you come into or leave downtown," said Daniel Gura, Vice President for Development and University Relations for the University of Tampa.
The University of Tampa is already building a new $38 million residence hall along Kennedy Boulevard. The 11-story building is expected to be completed in August of next year.
The facelift of the Bob Martinez Athletic Center is also part of a plan to keep up with growing student enrollment.
But Thursday, crews started clearing two additional UT-owned parcels on Kennedy Boulevard.
Heavy equipment tore down what used to be the old Olin Mott Tire Company at 1119 West Kennedy. Crews had previously cleared a neighboring business at 1107 West Kennedy to make room for the new construction in the shadows of Downtown Tampa.
"When you have a $600 million economic impact every year in this area, whatever we do, particularly when you're talking a multi-million dollar construction, it will have an economic impact. It will have a visual impact," said Gura.
Although UT isn't saying what it plans to build or when, a University spokesperson says it's likely the construction will be similar in appearance to the new residence hall.
"That's going to have the red brick, the stucco, the glass -- it'll look very similar to the other buildings on campus," said UT Spokesperson Eric Cardenas.
Future construction the University of Tampa hopes will be a positive change along the city's main gateway.
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