TAMPA, Fla. — Can you put a price on Tampa’s history? An expensive idea to brick Ybor City’s 7th Avenue is posing this very question.
“That’s how people know Ybor City, as a party,” said Jennifer Brown.
Part entertainment, part history — Ybor City is Tampa’s crown jewel.
“They weren’t meant to stay up,” said Courtney Orr, Ybor City Economic Development Corporation.
But 7th Avenue needs some TLC.
Not only is the City of Tampa budgeting to replace the lighted arches along this stretch, it is researching an even bigger project.
“Well, the brick would actually be required to be a clay-style brick to be in keeping with historic Ybor and those bricks are 100 years old,” said Orr.
Orr says the brick along 7th Avenue was removed in 1971 and then paved instead.
The special bricks that line the streets of Ybor City are made by 8 different companies but the city doesn’t have enough to re-brick 7th Avenue so it would have to buy more.
“We have 41 miles of brick streets in the City of Tampa and what we have now is primarily used for repair of those brick streets,” said Orr.
Right now, the project cost may be too high — an estimated $3.3 million dollar for 13 blocks from Nuccio Parkway to 26th Street.
The three years construction timeline, Orr says, may also put too much stress on 7th Avenue businesses.
“Let’s consider just doing the crosswalks. It would be less disruptive to businesses, less cost and probably a little bit easier to get our arms around,” said Orr.
Money for the archway lights is already pushing that project forward, even though some folks believe it could be better spent.
“I think that type of money need to be put in more education,” said Brown.