TAMPA, Fla.-- One of Tampa's oldest non-profits is packing up and selling its property in Tampa Heights. The Salvation Army is moving — but it won't go far.
The plan is to sell three properties along North Florida Avenue. It includes a shelter, a warehouse and a parking lot. But they’re not just up and leaving — part of the money is going to renovate their current administrative building. The single building will become a new hub for their needs.
The Red Shield Lodge is the 23,000 square-foot emergency shelter housing 150 beds. But due to funding constraints, the non-profit can only fill about 120 of them. According to plans, the hub would house even more of the homeless, at around 180 beds.
Cheong Choi’s 'Cafe Hey' has called historic Tampa Heights home, for over a decade.
“It used to be for a long time like wild, wild west," said Choi.
Then the neighborhood exploded.
“A hot spot, everybody wants to be here," he said.
The Salvation Army's newest business move is furthering along the revamping of Tampa's first suburb.
"If they are liquidated we have an opportunity to see the fruit that comes from that property that we have in the area," said Captain Andy Miller of the Salvation Army.
The less fortunate will still have their shelter now consolidated into a single building at 1603 North Florida Avenue, their current administrative complex. Plus, the nearly 100-year-old building will be renovated.
But why now? First, Captain Andy Miller says these properties have been under-utilized, and secondly, they understand a seller's market when they see one.
"The market is such now that we think this is the best time for us to optimize using the capacities and resources God has given us to accomplish the mission he has given us," he said.
Much like neighboring Ybor, Tampa Heights is going through its own metamorphosis.
"A lot of the vagrancy. A lot of the littering. A lot of the things that would make people not want to come down here have evaporated," said Choi.
It's ambitious projects like the Salvation Army's that is seemingly paving the way to a new future. The non-profit is planning to have these properties sold and their new hub re-modeled by 2020. Their plans are, however, preliminary and must go through the complete zoning process.