Latest News (April 11, 2004):

On March 16th there was a meeting of the City of Temple Terrace Strategic Teamwork and Redevelopment Committee (STAR) in which our town planner Neal Payton of Torti Gallas and Partners gave a small presentation and fielded questions from the group. Neal stated that there was one area in the southeast quadrant that could support a higher density than the rest of the area and that was the area along the river (most of the downtown area would probably be a maximum of three stories in height, this area could possibly be up to five stories in height). The riverfront area is the most valuable land in the southeast quadrant. The CRTT has stressed the importance of leaving the city owned land directly adjacent to the river as a public park amenity and placing town homes or condos along the north side of Riverhills Drive looking over the beautifully wooded park to the river. As Architect Frank Lloyd Wright used to say in reference to his sites, “if you want to preserve the beauty of the hill, build on the side of the hill, not on top of it”. Currently, there is a huge drainage pond on the east portion of this area so it should be carefully studied during the creation of the Master Plan. There was also a question about how the design guidelines, which are basically a new code for the downtown quadrants, would tie into our existing antiquated City Code. Neal stated that the design guidelines would delineate a new building type that the current City Code does not address—i.e. pedestrian oriented, mixed use, medium density, new urban—so there would not be a conflict between the existing City Code and the design guidelines.

There was a Temple Terrace Community Redevelopment Agency (TTRA) meeting on March 16th, 2004. The two items on the agenda were a presentation by our town planner Neal Payton of Torti Gallas and Partners and the city’s “intent to purchase” the Havana Palms restaurant property (8615 N. 56th Street) in the Revitalization area. Neal’s presentation was enthusiastically received (as was the “intent to purchase”) and Neal praised the City and City Council for their foresight in gaining control of Terrace/Kash n Karry Plazas and their continuing desire to acquire more parcels in the Southeast Quadrant. Again, the CRTT is a strong advocate of the City gaining control of as much of the southeast quadrant as possible before the Master Plan is created in June.

Regarding the Busch Boulevard beautification efforts from Florida Avenue to 56th Street. On March 24th, 2004 the Metropolitan Planning Commission presented there concepts and ideas gathered from their previously held Interactive Open House. Many felt their proposals, which included the addition of period street lighting, landscaping, applied crosswalks and street furniture didn’t go far enough towards taming dreadful Busch Boulevard, but their efforts are a start. In all truthfulness the Busch Boulevard corridor needs to be entirely rethought from the ground up—a sign ordnance and the burying of aerial electrical lines below ground would go a long way, though it would be expensive. Our own Bullard Parkway corridor would be significantly improved if we were somehow able to eliminate those huge power poles on the south side of the road.

CRTT board member Lani Czyzewski and the City have finished putting together the Temple Terrace specific information and photographs for the 12 page Pre-Charrette informational newspapers. These newspapers will contain information about the upcoming charrettes/workshops and New Urbanism, our City’s downtown revitalization direction. The City has ordered 20,000 copies of these newspapers and the first batch will go out to the citizenry with the Temple Terrace Guide phone books that are created by the GFWC Temple Terrace Women’s Club, Inc., in late April. A second batch will go out the beginning of May. Great job Lani!

CRA Director Ralph Bosek and the town planner’s excellent traffic consultant Rick Hall of Hall Engineering have been meeting with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) about what options our City has to “tame” dismal, noisy, deadly 56th Street. This effort is crucial, as our downtown’s success will be affected if it is adjacent to an unsightly 4-lane highway with a disregarded speed limit. Currently 46,000 vehicles a day cross the Hillsborough River into Temple Terrace. Lately, the FDOT has considered handing over ownership of that portion of 56th Street between the river and Fowler Avenue to the City of Temple Terrace. Many have asked, “how could the City afford to own and maintain that portion of the road?” As Councilmember Joe Affronti has said regarding the Revitalization in general, “how can we afford not to?” If the city had control of 56th Street we could increase the right of way or slightly adjust its orientation so that landscaping could be added, we could add traffic calming measures, lower the speed limit, or even possibly narrow it ala Delray Beach. The 56th Street problem is one we need to confront head on.

One of the concerns I’ve heard lately from citizenry is that we’ll design a great Master Plan for our four Downtown Quadrants but no qualified Development Teams will answer the Developer RFP to construct it. This scenario is extremely unlikely because mixed-use, new urban projects are currently one of the hottest things in the development industry. Last year, 500 developers and consultants attended a two-day Urban Land Institute “Placemaking” conference at Reston Town Center in Virginia. The strong turnout was indicative of developer interest in building mixed-use projects centered on main streets or designed as downtown districts.

Not surprisingly, our preference would be to utilize Development Teams in the Downtown Revitalization that have previous experience in building projects like ours, that is, mixed-use new urban projects; preferably successful ones like CityPlace or Mizner Park. Since Florida has more New Urbanist projects than any other state there is no shortage of Development Teams out there with experience in new urban projects in Florida. Following are a few for your perusal:

1) The Palladium Company

Project: CityPlace, West Palm Beach

2) Haile Plantation Corporation, Gainesville

Project: Haile Village Center, Gainesville

3) The Graham Companies

Project: Miami Lakes Town Center, Miami Lakes

4) Don Castro Organization

Project: Winter Park Village, Winter Park

5) Michaels Development

Project: Belmont Heights, Tampa

6) The Aragon Group at Pensacola

7) New Urban Communities, Delray Beach

Project: Atlantic Grove, Courtyards of Delray, Old Palm Grove—all in Delray Beach,

Botanica, Jupiter Beach, East Village, Fort Lauderdale

Another question that has come up several times is “can retail survive if placed in the southeast quadrant, based on that quadrants recent history and the current demographics?” Firstly, the town planner has a very good real estate advisor, Marc McCauley of Robert Charles Lesser & Co., LLC, on their Project Team so the town planner will not design a Master Plan that doesn’t work. I can say that we won’t be putting back the amount of retail (which was 100%) that was previously in the southeast quadrant as our area is over-saturated with retail as it is. Since we envision that the Revitalization will be mixed use (not single use like it currently is, remember the old adage about not putting all of your eggs in one basket?) we’ll have a combination of retail, restaurants, residential (town homes, condos), office space, civic (City Hall), governmental (U.S. Post Office substation), and cultural (performing arts center). By having the residential located downtown we’ll automatically make that area safer (the term is “eyes on the street”) and the residential component could also provide patrons for the various uses located in the town center. Having the performing arts center, post office and City Hall located there will provide additional patrons before and after shows, errands, etc. Our new downtown could very well become a destination if we want as there’s no competition for this type of place in our area.

Regarding the demographic issue, I would first like to point out that Temple Terrace has the highest median household income, median house value, and education levels of any city in west central Florida. This is based on the entire 6.9 square mile city area; the area around the golf course and near the river would be even higher. If our community can’t support quality retail and restaurants then neither can any other community in our area. As I mentioned earlier our planners real estate advisor will be conducting demographic studies as part of their market analysis but we’re confident we won’t be stuck with corpulent “big box retail” (i.e., Target, Big Lots, Home Depot) as our only retail alternative!

Lastly, many in the CRTT have been asking “okay, lets say we have the Master Plan, design guidelines (a special code that will allow us to create a mixed–use new urban town center), and zoning overlays created for our four downtown quadrants, what about the rest of the City? Should the rest of the City at least have the possibility of being developed in a similar manner to our downtown?” For this to happen we would need to have the town planner create design guidelines for the rest of the city to be used in conjunction with our existing City Building Code. Developers would utilize the new code because there would be incentives offered such as faster permitting time, etc. This new Citywide code aka SmartCode would give developers an option to our current City Building Code which if followed exactly still produces buildings of debatable value. Ralph Bosek mentioned that Torti Gallas will only be creating design guidelines or a new code for the downtown quadrants–the rest of the city will continue to be governed solely by the antiquated City Building Code.

Related posts:

  1. Latest News (July 19, 2004)
  2. Latest News (July 19, 2004)
  3. Latest News (February 22, 2004)
  4. Latest News – April 26, 2003
  5. Latest News (December 21, 2003)
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2 Responses


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Essays like this are so important to broadening people’s horizons.