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City leaders looking to revitalize East Tampa by knocking down blighted businesses, acquiring land

Posted at 3:49 AM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 08:50:07-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa City leaders and community members are coming together in East Tampa to get rid of broken-down properties, with the goal of bringing in thriving businesses.

This dilapidated strip mall was located on 29th Street, within walking distance to First Baptist Church of College Hill in East Tampa.

This demolition site on East 29th Street is a sign of progress to Tampa City Councilman Orlando Gudes.

For years, Gudes said this small, empty strip mall had evolved into an eyesore and a danger to the East Tampa community.

"The roof was falling apart," Gudes said. "The building caving in. The homeless sleeping in it, using the bathroom."

This was all happening as the site fell into foreclosure. Gudes, along with other city leaders, were finally able to pressure the bank that took over the building, to knock it down.

"You have property owners who live here," Gudes said. "They want their communities to look like other communities."

Now, he's working to get the city to buy the property and turn it into something that adds to the neighborhood.

"We're looking for revitalization," Gudes said.

The strip mall on 29th Street isn't the only property he wants torn down. City leaders like Gudes are now meeting with other property owners in the area, asking them to clean up and make other safety changes.

This comes as Mayor Jane Castor's Resilient Tampa Roadmapfocuses on creating a land trust throughout Tampa, by buying properties across the city.

"We will make those available to developers so they can construct more affordable units, multi-family housing," Castor said.

In the meantime, Gudes is asking community members to keep contacting city leaders.

"So we can know what they want," he said. "We can hear their concerns."