Gainesville, FL City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins on land use and economic development

Gainesville, FL's Depot Park
A former train station and brownfield site will become home to a restaurant, café and a flexible space for events as part of the Depot Park project in Gainesville, FL. Photo via the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency.

Thomas Hawkins, a Commissioner for the City of Gainesville, FL and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is helping using smart growth strategies to attract economic development while protecting Gainesville’s quality of life.

Local Leaders Council

TIGER grant has a Florida university focused on transit

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.43.00 AM
Florida International University (FIU) will soon move forward on transit-oriented development projects thanks in part to an $11.4 million Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the US Department of Transportation. The grant will help fund a series of campus-area projects aiming to enhance the economic growth of FIU and the surrounding city of Sweetwater, Florida.

The University City Prosperity Project will increase transit ridership to and from campus, improve all modes of public transportation, improve pedestrian access and provide incentives to attract local businesses to the surrounding communities.

Uncategorized

Partnership in the News: Tampa Riverwalk nears completion thanks to TIGER grant

Tampa, Florida has begun construction on the final phase of its Riverwalk, with help from a TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The 2.6 mile pedestrian walkway has been a 40 year effort for the city, spanning 6 mayors. The TIGER grant is partially funding the Riverwalk’s final segment, projected to open November 2014.

The Riverwalk is part of Tampa’s efforts to revitalize its downtown. “This downtown you will not recognize in 10 years, said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, “and it will not end on the west bank of the river. This river will be the centerpiece of our urban experience.”

Tampa is trying to encourage a mix of uses in its downtown, developing work, retail, residential and recreational spaces. The City’s shift in urban land use has facilitated development of the downtown’s first office tower in 20 years. The energy efficient SouthGate Tower will feature office and parking space as well as a 350-room upscale hotel. Bob Abberger, managing director of the Tower’s developer, hopes the project will take advantage of Tampa’s growing business and nightlife amenities.

Uncategorized

Healthfields: Creating healthy communities and improving neighborhoods at the same time

Willa Cather Center
The Willa Carson Health and Wellness Center in Clearwater, FL used to be a vacant gas station.

As cities and towns seek to improve conditions for economic development, a burgeoning trend is beginning to take hold in communities around the country. Forgoing the traditional methods of pursuing private investment, some communities are instead taking a ‘health-based’ approach – identifying basic community needs like access to health care, fresh food, and safe places to gather and play and prioritizing those investments to sustain a healthy neighborhood. When these priorities are incorporated into brownfield redevelopment, the result is known as a “Healthfield,” and the concept is gaining traction with planners, health professionals and environmental advocates around the country.

Uncategorized

Partnership in the News: InVision Tampa rolls out master plan

On November 27, InVision Tampa, a 2010 recipient of a Community Challenge grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revealed for the public its master plan to revitalize Tampa’s downtown core. Emphasizing business and residential connections, the plan hopes to turn downtown Tampa into an accessible and thriving mixed-use area, anchored by the riverfront and transit amenities.

Uncategorized

Small places with big goals win national awards for smart growth achievement


Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America (left) with representatives from seven communities honored with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

On Wednesday evening in a hearing room on Capitol Hill, the winners of this year’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement gathered to discuss how their projects are helping their communities become better places to live and work.

The awards this year went to projects that have improved streets, redeveloped historic buildings, built new homes and stores in the heart of downtown, created better transportation choices and more. And though the projects are all very different from one another, none would have been possible without community support and collaboration.

“That’s the word of the day, partnerships,” said Kenneth Chandler, former City Manager of the City of Portsmouth, VA. Portsmouth’s comprehensive overhaul of the city’s development and land use regulations won it the Programs and Policies award. Portsmouth’s new codes are already creating a more livable and pedestrian-friendly city with opportunities for economic development and reinvestment.

Uncategorized

Spotlight on Sustainability: Tampa, FL uses new technologies to chart a new direction for the city

A downtown Tampa streetcar. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Willamor Media.

Leaders in Tampa, Florida are working to reverse the sprawl that has left their downtown area sparsely populated and stifled economic development. A Community Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is aimed to help make it happen.

The city’s planning efforts, organized under the banner of InVision Tampa, aim to create a vision plan for a downtown core, a transit corridor plan to increase transportation choices in the region, and update the city’s building codes. Each of these are designed to stimulate downtown Tampa’s residential, business, and retail economy, and set the entire city on a course for a better future.

“We are hoping to change the entire face of our urban core. Our urban core is quite a bit like other aging cities. Suburbanization and forces over 50 years have pushed people out,” says Randy Goers, Urban Planning Coordinator and Project Manager for InVision Tampa. “Over the next 15 years, we want to remake the urban core and create a dense, diverse, populated area.”

While Tampa, like many cities, has always had a central business district that composed its downtown, it was not until the 1980s that any residential development was put in place. The city is seeking to jumpstart residential downtown activity, identifying spots along the river as opportunities for redevelopment.

Uncategorized