TAMPA, Fla. — A longtime Tampa project is close to breaking ground.
"The city of Tampa purchased this site in 2015 and it was always intended to be homes to city departments," said Adri Colina, the city's Director of Logistics and Asset Management Department.
Colina says the lot at 2515 East Hanna Avenue will eventually turn into a multipurpose building that houses several city government departments and more.
"The mayor was very clear. When she wanted us to develop this site as a project, she didn't want us to just come into the neighborhood, she wanted us to be a neighbor in the neighborhood," she said.
To pull off that request, the city says it has held several meetings to get community input, including on Monday night where leaders gave folks a sneak peek of what the finished project should look like.
"The plaza or what we call 'Hanna square.' It can become this public space where people can come and hang out and be social," said Marcel Maslowski of FleischmanGarcia Architecture.
Project leaders say the space will also include a public square, community meeting rooms, and places for bikes and scooters.
But the plan isn't without its critics. Members of the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee have protested against the plan. They believe the project could open the door to a new police station being built in that community, leading to over-policing.
And there is also concern that the project will push existing residents out.
"We see it as the first steps to further gentrifying East Tampa neighborhoods," said David Jones of the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee
As far as a possible police station is concerned, the city says it's not on the books.
"That has been such a huge miscommunication. There has never been a police presence in this project or on this property at 2515 East Hanna Avenue," said Colina.
Another major concern raised Monday was about how the project would impact traffic and mobility in that area. It's a question the city says it's working to get answered.
"There is a transportation study underway. We plan on providing you with the results of what that study shows us," said Colina.
Construction starts in January and is expected to wrap up in Spring 2023.