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Temple Terrace neighbors worry push for apartments could worsen traffic

The city might allow developers to transform a piece of land on Riverhills Drive into 70-90 apartments
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Posted at 8:13 AM, Aug 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-15 08:13:46-04

TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. — It’s described as one of the last undeveloped riverfront properties in the heart of Temple Terrace. But soon, it might lose that distinction.

City leaders wish to sell the three acres of prime real estate to allow for the potential development of luxury apartments.

The property is located along Riverhills Drive, just east of N. 56th Street. Danielle Curtis and her dog, Maggie, stroll by the property daily.

Lately, Curtis has noticed changes. The land has been partially cleared and a ‘for sale’ sign has been put up.

“There used to be a ton more trees here, and they cleared out a bunch of the area, so it kind of makes sense that they’re going to do something with it,” she said “I just wasn’t sure what exactly.”

According to realtor Florida ROI’s website, the city’s asking $2.5 million for the parcel and is seeking developers’ proposals for luxury apartments or an assisted living facility. The listing said the site would allow for the “possibility of 70-90 units spaced over six levels.”

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To Curtis, that’s concerning.

“I don’t think it would be ideal,” she said. “I feel like it would increase the traffic around here a lot more.”

Curtis said traffic on Riverhills Drive is already bad at key times, and the addition of an apartment building could exacerbate the issues.

“It can get pretty backed up,” she said. “It can take five to 10 minutes just to get out of here, especially if you’re making that left hand turn down [N. 56th St.].”

Interim City Manager Steve Spina is confident that any developer will address traffic.

“They’re aware of the problem there already,” he said. “I’m sure that when the project is developed that there would be requirements of the developer to make improvements to the roadway as well.”

He says selling the land would play into the City of Temple Terrace’s overall vision of becoming a more livable, walkable place. It would also allow the city to pay down some of its debt.

“The debt’s about $12 million,” he said. “It’s a long-standing debt from projects that occurred a number of years ago, so it’s financially sound to pay off your debt.”

According to Spina, the city has unsuccessfully attempted to sell the land before. This time, it’s more confident about potential prospects.

For now, the potential for a development is in its earliest stages, but Spina said neighbors would be included in the discussion if and when the process moves forward.

Until then, Spina said the land has been converted into a “passive park” for the public’s enjoyment.