TAMPA, Fla. — The fight over the future of a Bayshore Boulevard mansion is heating up as its owner promotes a new social media campaign to #SaveTheStovall.
"It's a beautiful piece of property," said Blake Casper, who is the property owner behind the project. "We want to protect and preserve it."
Casper, who also owns Oxford Exchange in Tampa, wants to re-purpose the historic Stovall home into an exclusive, members-only social club, complete with private parking, dining and five overnight guest suites.
"You're not really saving the Stovall House when you're putting in 80 parking spaces, bright lights, and basically a bar," said neighbor Rob Soriano.
Soriano's dream home backs into the 2.6-acre Stovall property. And several yard signs posted on his block show that he's not the only one who opposes the $20 million project.
Casper promises to install a new sidewalk in front of the property, located at 4621 Bayshore Boulevard. The area is overgrown with weeds and grass right now and dilapidated.
"And that certainly doesn't compensate for all the traffic, I'm talking about over 1,000 vehicle trips a day that will pose a risk to pedestrians and bikers," said Soriano.
The project's new website mentions the recent tragedy on Bayshore Boulevard and states they will support any effort to increase pedestrian safety.
The property owner behind the project says the #SaveTheStovall campaign aims to prevent another developer from erecting high-rise condominiums in one of Tampa's oldest neighborhoods.
"While high-rise condominiums are being built up and down Bayshore Boulevard, The Stovall House plan keeps the entire 2.6 acres intact and under residential height restrictions," the website reads. "The Stovall House will be saved for generations of Tampa residents to enjoy and will be one less Bayshore estate erased from our city’s landscape."
The only way another developer could add a high-rise is if Casper decides to sell the property.
"To use his own position as the owner to say well, if I don't get what I want, then somebody's going to put up a high-rise is kind of form of blackmail, I don't buy it at all," said Soriano.
Casper submitted a new site plan to the City of Tampa this week.
"The alternative use, from a development standpoint, there would be an equal amount of traffic and the hypotheticals, I think, get much worse," said Casper. "We think this is an excellent use and a way for, on a limited scale, opening it back up to the public."
City officials will consider the project during a rezoning hearing scheduled for August 30.