Prominent Tampa builder Al Austin dies at 85

TAMPA - Al Austin has passed away at the age of 85.

According to his long-time assistant, Austin was found Thursday morning in his bed.

Largely responsible for the development of the Westshore business district beginning in the 1960s, Austin was one of the most prominent builders and developers in the Tampa Bay area.

He was also heavily involved in politics, and often called one of the area’s most important Republican fundraisers.  Many consider him to be the driving force behind landing the Republican National Convention in Tampa in 2012.

Co-workers said he had no illnesses, and that he had been coming into the office every day.  The news came as a complete surprise.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn released the statement below in regards to the passing of Al Austin:
“Al Austin was a real estate pioneer who shaped the physical landscape of Tampa. He was the first to truly understand the value that being in close proximity to Tampa International Airport and Pinellas County could have on developing the Westshore Business District into what it is today.
“He believed in his country, his party, and the importance of public service. His decades long effort to bring the Republican National Convention to Tampa will continue to pay dividends, and it would not have occurred without his hard work and faith.
“From his contributions to the University of Tampa to his work on behalf of MacDill Air Force Base, Al always put his city first. I will miss his guidance and remain grateful for all of he has done for Tampa.”
Politicians and community leaders took to Twitter on Thursday to offer their condolences:

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