Westshore district plans for future with more room for living and walking

TAMPA - The Westshore district has it all, with malls and hotels and apartments and more office space than any other business district in Florida.  What it didn't have, until now, was a plan.

"Well, if you don't have a plan, you don't have a vision," said Ron Rotella, the Executive Director of the Westshore Alliance.  

So today, the only executive director the banded-together business consortium has ever had stepped before Hillsborough County Commissioners to present a comprehensive plan that will take the district through the next 25 years.

"And get on with making Westshore the grand plaza," he said.

The plans, largely laid out through the Florida Center for Community Design and research at USF, are designed for walkers first, with landscaped medians, shaded sidewalks, narrower traffic lanes and reduced speed limits.  

"What we've done is sort of broken down that distance from a pedestrian point of view into eighth- and quarter-mile segments," said Trent Green, who led the Florida Center's design team in the year-long work.

And for the folks who work and shop here, that's good news.

"It makes much more sense to just walk around," said Janeth Bustamante, who works in Westshore. "I mean it will eliminate a lot of traffic jams around here."

Ron says he'll be back down the other end of Kennedy Blvd. tomorrow morning to make a presentation to Tampa City Council and he's hoping it goes every bit as well as today's.

"We've made presentations to the neighborhoods, to business owners and property owners and we've received no negative comments about the master plan," he said.

But it will cost millions to implement the plans.  So while the concept is on track, it will be years before we start to see this long-range plan become a reality.

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