The actual language is substantially similar to the draft reports we discussed earlier. We are not going to quote huge amounts of the reports but we think it is worth noting, again, this language from all three reports.
From the Suncoast Connector task force:
As input to project development, FDOT will work with partners to conduct a robust evaluation of the potential high-level needs in the study area, building on the recommendations of the Task Force. This process will evaluate and distinguish between conventional safety, mobility and connectivity needs, and broader regional needs related to transportation that also are included in the statutory purpose in s. 338.2278, F.S. Additional details on the needs evaluation process as well as the steps involved in identifying and evaluating alternatives are specified in the Action Plan section of this report.
The Task Force did not reach a conclusion, based on the information available at this time, that there is a specific need for a completely new greenfield corridor or modifications of existing facilities through the study area to achieve the statutory purpose. Project-level needs will be evaluated consistent with the Task Force’s recommendations. If specific needs are identified, the Task Force expressed a preference for improvement or expansion of existing major highway corridors. Preliminary corridor planning and development limits of the Suncoast Corridor will focus on corridor analysis south of I-10. Alternatives to connect to I-10 will include all counties in the study area.
The Task Force believed that the formal determination of need pursuant to statutory requirements and consistent with accepted statewide processes is an important milestone in corridor planning and development. The Task Force developed a series of guiding principles and instructions for future planning and development of corridors for which high-level needs have been identified, including analysis of the “no-build” option. While these determinations will be made after the Task Force has completed its deliberations, the guidance provided by the Task Force will instruct the evaluation process and FDOT will create ongoing opportunities for partners and the public to be engaged during the process
Pg. 19 of the Suncoast Connector task force pdf.
From the North Turnpike Task Force:
As input to project development, FDOT will work with partners to conduct a robust evaluation of the potential high-level needs in the study area, building on the recommendations of the Task Force. This process should evaluate and distinguish between conventional safety, mobility, and connectivity needs, and broader regional needs related to transportation that are also included in the statutory purpose in s. 338.2278, F.S. Additional details on the needs evaluation process, as well as the steps involved in identifying and evaluating alternatives are specified in the Action Plan section of this report.
The Task Force did not reach a conclusion, based on the information available at this time, that there is a specific need for a completely new greenfield corridor or modifications of existing facilities through the study area to achieve the statutory purpose. Project-level needs will be evaluated consistent with the Task Force’s recommendations. If specific needs are identified, the Task Force expressed a preference for improvement or expansion of existing major highway corridors.
The Task Force believes that the determination of need, an initial financial feasibility assessment, and an initial environmental assessment is an essential prerequisite to the project development process (PD&E). The Task Force developed a series of guiding principles and instructions for future planning and development of corridors for which high-level needs have been identified, including analysis of the “no build” option. While these determinations will be made after the Task Force has completed its deliberations, the guidance provided by the Task Force will instruct the evaluation process, and FDOT will create ongoing opportunities for partners and the public to be engaged during the process.
Pg. 21 of the North Turnpike task force pdf.
From the Southwest-Central (aka Heartland Expressway) Task Force:
As input to project development, FDOT will work with partners to conduct a robust evaluation of the potential high-level needs in the study area, building on the recommendations of the Task Force. This process will evaluate and distinguish between conventional safety, mobility and connectivity needs, and broader regional needs related to transportation that also are included in the statutory purpose in s. 338.2278, F.S. Additional details on the needs evaluation process, as well as the steps involved in identifying and evaluating alternatives, are specified in the Action Plan on page 38 of this report.
The Task Force did not reach a conclusion based on the information available at this time that there is a specific need for a completely new greenfield corridor or modifications of existing facilities through the study area to achieve the statutory purpose. Project-level needs will be evaluated consistent with the Task Force’s recommendations. If specific needs are identified, the Task Force expressed a preference for improvement or expansion of existing major highway corridors.
The Task Force believes that the determination of the transportation need, an initial financial feasibility assessment, and an initial environmental assessment are essential prerequisites to the PD&E process. The Task Force developed a series of guiding principles and instructions for future planning and development of corridors for which high-level needs have been identified, including analysis of the “no build” option. While these determinations will be made after the Task Force has completed its deliberations, the guidance provided by the Task Force will instruct the evaluation process and FDOT will create ongoing opportunities for partners and the public to be engaged during the process.
Pg. 25 of the Southwest-Central task force pdf.
What we said in October is equally applicable now:
Once again, there is bizarre uniformity. None of the task forces found that the road they were considering was needed, probably because, as we have been saying, the roads are not needed. Not only that, they specifically said they preferred upgrading present corridors (which has been proposed by some) to building new roads.
Also notable: the task forces did not say there were no needs for anything in the MCORES idea. This was not just a committee of “no.” They did not poo-poo broadband or water infrastructure. They said the new roads are not needed because there has been no showing that they are needed. They just did not find need for new roads. As we have noted previously, expanding broadband takes very little space and disruption. And water infrastructure should be scaled to development, which is limited in the areas now.
And, even more importantly in a way, the task forces lay out a framework for looking at the need for new roads to guide FDOT and the State government. We leave it to you to decide why they felt the need to do that.
We would be lying if we said we were not pleasantly surprised by the task force conclusions. However, given the past history, we have our doubts that the reports will even survive intact without being altered significantly.
And, from a few weeks later:
MCORES is a political project. At its heart, it does not have to do with needs or requirements, and it never really did. Nevertheless, the task forces seem to have done their jobs. Let’s see if FDOT and the rest of the State government can do theirs.
We shall see.
Last week, we discussed air taxis and that the company that initially talked to TBARTA was planning a hub in Orlando (here). But TBARTA is still working on it:
California-Based air taxi company Wisk Aero and Colorado-based gondola firm Leitner-Poma presented their technologies to TBARTA, telling how they can serve the region whether it’s connecting to Tropicana Field or to downtowns.
Although Tampa did not actively pursue further conversations with Lilium, TBARTA board members are still interested in its technology as well as tech from other companies that can likely be integrated.
The region has long been in need of improved transit services as the lack of robust systems make the area less competitive when it comes to business relocation, retention and expansion. TBARTA heard presentations from the two companies. It took no action.
$60 one-way air taxis between Tampa and Orlando is not transit (see last week’s discussion), but whatever. In terms of public money, we are not interested in either air taxis or gondolas (gondolas, at least until someone can assure us they will be safe to run in the summer thunderstorms, and, even then, we have serious doubts).
Leitner-Poma, a Grand Junction, Colorado company, pitched a ropeway gondola concept to TBARTA. Leitner-Poma originally specialized in building ski lifts works. It is the American subsidiary of French-based Poma, which is owned by the Italian company HTI Group.
The gondola system would be used to connect from the Trop to the St. Pete Pier area or from Clearwater Beach to downtown. Other gondola companies such as BeachTran and the Shea Carr Jewell Company have pitched similar plans for the area.
As short distance skyride within city limits (and in one county) is involving a regional transit agency because?
It seems quite apparent that the effort to turn TBARTA into a useful agency has not really worked. Luckily, it has no taxing powers. As long as it strives to be irrelevant (and, on evidence, probably longer), it needs to stay that way.
We have previously discussed the City’s proposed changes to Channelside Drive and the Port Board’s concerns over the effect on the cruise business of those changes. (see here and here) We are not going to rehash the whole debate, but now there is an apparent deal:
The project will narrow Channelside Drive from Kennedy Boulevard south towards the roundabout near the Florida Aquarium, as well as add other pedestrian safety measures. It’s been the subject of consternation from Tampa Port Authority board members who have said it would snarl traffic to and from the port on days when cruise ships come in.
Tampa officials, including Mayor and port commissioner Jane Castor, had said the impact would be minimal. Still, the city tweaked the plan to make several concessions to the port board, adding turn lanes into and out of the port’s parking garage, and agreeing to optimize traffic signal timing on cruise days.
The city also tentatively committed to providing an easement to the port’s Cruise Terminal 3 through the city-owned Florida Aquarium parking lot, pending additional review. Port officials said their organization would bear the cost of that project, estimated at $3.2 million.
The city stopped short of committing additional police officers to help with traffic on busy cruise days. And Castor was hesitant on another port proposal to build an elevated pedestrian bridge across Channelside Drive, between the garage and the Florida Aquarium.
And from the Business Journal:
“We made some modifications at the roundabout. During cruise operations, we have allowed enough space to create a low-speed bypass lane (thus creating two lanes when traffic is high). On a normal day, it will be a one-lane roundabout,” Tampa Mobility Director Vik Bhide told the Tampa Bay Business Journal after the port authority’s Tuesday meeting, which is when the city gave a formal presentation on coming to a middle ground.
For reference, this is a picture showing the street segment in question:
Before getting to the deal, we just want to point out that there is no need for a skywalk to the aquarium, especially with a road diet. The whole point of a road diet is to activate the street (and it just is not that far or dangerous).
Now to the deal. Depending on exactly where the turn lanes are and what the easement is, fine. The Business Journal quote sounds quite reasonable. We are not big fans of the port garage, which is planned in classic Tampa-deadstreet style, but apparently it is the key element. Interestingly, it can be accessed by using Meridian and avoiding Channelside completely. But we are not going to quibble.
Once again, URBN Tampa Bay raises a good point:
We continue to hold the position that the cruise business is incompatible with the revitalization of Downtown and the Channel District, at least long-term. The cruise industry funnels large amounts of traffic through what is supposed to be an urban, walkable neighborhood, and then requires massive amounts of car storage in the neighborhood while people are on their cruise. This stifles the neighborhood.
Instead of adding lanes to cater to cruise traffic, we should begin winding down the cruise business in the Channel District so the waterfront and all of its neighboring land east of Channelside Drive can be properly redeveloped. Turning that land into another WST-like development (like the Port themselves released plans for 5 years ago) should be the direction of future Tampa, not cruise ships.
Conceptually, we do not disagree with URBN Tampa Bay. The problem is that the cruise terminals aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the Port’s plans include continuing use of the land for cruises. Moreover, not all the cruise terminals are not easily accessible from cruise land. And, in fact, part of the selling point for the original Channelside complex and the aquarium were the cruise passengers milling about.
The point is that, unfortunately, this corner of the downtown peninsula suffers from the same lack of long-term vision as the convention center that cannot be easily expanded. Planning matters and contingency planning for future success, as well as failure, also matters. If the City had planned well, the road could have two lanes in each direction and also have all manner of pedestrian and bike facilities.
Whether that lesson will be learned remains to be seen.
We have previously discussed a proposal to replace the Crown Building on Henderson. Those plans had gone through changes and have changed again. Per URBN Tampa Bay:
Plans now call for an 8 story office building with a single residential penthouse on the top floor. There is 162,332 sf of office space planned. There’s also some ground floor uses including a retail space, a day care, and a new post office as ground floor commercial uses in the parking garage.
You can go to URBN Tampa Bay’s post here to see new renderings, which look like the old renderings with two floors removed and a site plan which is basically the same as the old plan. Because it is essentially the same plan, our opinion has not changed from our last discussion on the topic:
We think this project is OK. We do not have a problem with the height or size of the building. We appreciate the retail/commercial on the ground floor of the garage. However, it would be nice if there was something on the street on Henderson which, as we said, is the main road. (We also have to admit some, probably misplaced, sentimentality for the Crown Building.) And, even with the retail, the garage is quite hulking for the area and likely includes more spaces than they will ever need (unless it is overflow parking for the Christ the King Carnival). We are not sure about the rooftop penthouse, but it is not a major issue.
Though, it would have been better at 10 stories.
The Downtown Partnership is running a survey about Franklin Street.
The Tampa Downtown Partnership is excited to begin preliminary community outreach efforts related to overall community visioning of the Franklin Street corridor from Jackson Street to Palm Avenue in downtown Tampa, Florida. Franklin Street is Tampa’s historic “Main Street” in downtown that thrived as one of the city’s primary commercial corridors from the late 1800’s into the mid 1900’s.
The Tampa Downtown Partnership would like your input as part of a comprehensive effort to evaluate the future vision for Franklin Street in downtown Tampa. This effort aims to identify the corridor’s existing strengths and weaknesses, engage community stakeholders, and identify short and long term opportunities for improvements related to the corridor. Use the interactive map and survey below to give us your feedback and be a part of the Franklin Street visioning process.
Honestly, we have mixed feelings about this type of survey. They can get an idea of what people think or gather some good ideas. Often, however, surveys like this (we have no idea about this survey) seems to be cover for things that have already been decided. That does not mean we oppose doing them.
One feature of the survey is where it breaks down Franklin Street into four segments starting at 1 in the south to 4 north of the interstate.
When Considering Future Redevelopment Activity Along Franklin Street (i.e., New Construction and Reuse of Existing Buildings), Which Elements of Urban Design Do You Believe are Most Important to Consider Along Area 1 (Jackson St. To Tyler St. (Herman Massey Park))? (Move/”Rank” Items In Order of Preference)
And gives you four items to rank (a bit of “direction”). Our answers would be the same for all segments, so we thought we’d just put it here:
- How Buildings Interact with the Street (Configuration of Buildings on a Site)
- Providing Shade Opportunities Along the Street (Street Trees, Building Awnings, etc.)
- Building Materials Used in New Construction (I.e. Brick or Other Materials that Compliment Historic Character of Street)
- The Height of New Buildings
Activating the street is the most important thing. Period. While we think a one-story building (really two-story as well) is too short, we doubt that is what they are considering. In terms of height limits, we have no idea why height would even enter the picture, especially south of the interstate. Most of Franklin Street is downtown and the rest is in Tampa Heights between a 20 or so story building and proposed 25 story building. As a practical matter, Franklin Street is not going to become Manhattan, but there may be some tall buildings built on it. We also think there should be preservation of what is left of the historic fabric, but much of the fabric has already been removed. If that is filled in with tall buildings, there is nothing wrong with that – as long as they are well designed – as long as they deal properly with the street.
You can do the survey here.
There are changes afoot at the company that is bringing you Water Street.
The company said the changes were prompted by several buildings nearing completion in its first phase of development, which was its “largest and most intensive phase, representing a total investment to date of approximately $2 billion across 10 distinct new buildings.”
Now that phase one is coming to a close, the company wants to shift its resources toward “leasing, management, and operations of the newly delivered buildings” as well as finding new development projects in Tampa and elsewhere, according to a company statement.
CEO James Nozar will also be leaving that job to become a strategic advisor to the board of directors, where he will help with efforts to identify new projects, according to the statement. Water Street Tampa was Strategic Property Partners’ first project.
What does that mean for phase 2 or for other developments in the area? It is not clear. The articles have some speculation, but the only way to know is to wait and see. However, given that there is some solid money behind SPP and they have ramped up a whole infrastructure for development, it seems logical to at least suspect more projects may be on the way (though not necessarily Water Street sized).
“Rest assured, these decisions were not made lightly,” Lightning and Vinik Sports Group CEO Steve Griggs said. “But with the sports and entertainment industry being impacted like at no other time in modern history, this was a necessary step as we position ourselves for maximum recovery.
Belt tightening is not surprising right now and:
Every employee impacted will receive a severance package, including COBRA insurance coverage. Every employee who was working full-time on Sept. 28, the day the Lightning won the Cup, will receive a championship ring.
Which is nice.
The truth is that, with all business, we are in a state of flux and low clarity.
This week they “broke ground.” From the Business Journal:
The brewery, based in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, held a “ceremonial” groundbreaking on Monday afternoon. Actual construction is slated to begin next month, said Jen Yuengling, the brewery’s vice president of operations.
The hotel, Yuengling said, is part of the project’s second phase, set to begin construction after the first phase wraps up in early 2022. The family is considering bringing a restaurant operating partner on board, she said.
Though the Times reports it a bit differently:
The project is scheduled to be completed by early 2022, with the hotel projected to open a year later. Alliant Partners is developing the project, with design managed by Alfonso Architects and construction run by Miller Brothers.
Yuengling believes the hotel will draw from a wide range of demographics, such as professionals with Moffitt Cancer Center, academics visiting USF and families visiting Busch Gardens. The Tampa brewery at 11111 N 30th Street is located near them all, as well as within 30 minutes from other destinations like ZooTampa and the Florida Aquarium.
While acknowledging that the lack of a hotel would be a blow, this is what the project includes:
It all looks nice. But then you look at this from last year that gives you the lay out:
You can see more at our earlier discussions referenced above. In sum, nothing has changed:
We have mixed feelings about this. First, it is a large piece of unused land in an area that could use some good development, and this seems like an interesting idea. Hotel, restaurant, microbrewery, beer garden, etc. That is all good. On the other hand, it is completely car oriented (including a very large retention pond on the street and a driveway cutting the project off from 30th Street and the area around it, which we tend to be against. Then again, the entire area around it is basically a sprawling mess (though there is housing and other retail nearby) and it is a brewery. Then again, it is near the CSX lines and could be part of a circulator system. And, done better, it could also help jump start a remaking of the area into something better than a sprawling mess.
To summarize, we applaud the effort and the general idea. We would definitely like the concept (if not this exact plan) to go forward. However, we wish it were done better with at least an attempt to relate to the area around it.
Since they are building it, we hope it is successful. We just wish they had put a little more thought into relating to the area around them. If the USF area is to really thrive, it needs to be more than a cluster of unconnected projects with large roads and surface parking between them.
Last week we discussed a proposal to add a coffee shop and incubator to Union Station (here). There was a Times article that provided more detail:
But, “there is still plenty of work to do,” said Jackson McQuigg, a board member of the Friends of Tampa Union Station, which works to raise funds for the continued preservation of the city-owned train station at 601 N. Nebraska Ave.
Amtrak pays $775 each month for an office, according to their lease. In 1994, when the building needed money for repairs and operations, Amtrak paid 30 years rent up front — $1.08 million — for its station space.
Good Food Events + Catering pays 20 percent of gross receipts for special event rentals at the station on the first $500,000, McQuigg said. “It’s a sliding scale after that to encourage more rentals.” The rental fees also support capital improvements.
To bring in more and larger events, Union Station will turn the abandoned baggage claim building into an events center. That work is already funded through a $95,000 Hillsborough County historic preservation grant and another $55,000 in private donations.
The new windows will cost around $900,000, McQuigg said. “There is a lot of rot. The other thing is there have been leaks in the building that have damaged the plaster severely in some areas. We need new sources of income to pay for it. For any building that is over 100 years old, the work never ends.”
In other words, there is a beautiful, historic building that costs a decent amount to maintain. There is an idea of a way to help fund the maintenance and improvements that is not public funding. We do not see the downside in the concept. Of course, the key is execution.
Last week, we discussed the City’s temporary outdoor dining plan and noted that, while it would be nice to just extend it, there are a number of issues that have to be resolved to do that. This week, URBN Tampa Bay reported:
Green Lemon has apparently made the business calculation that any business lost from losing a few parking spaces, will be more than offset by the extra restaurant capacity and potential popularity of having an outdoor deck on Howard. In the process, the urban design of the area is improved.
While it would be nice if they were converting even more parking to seating. (See here for a site plan), this is most likely how the most of the change can be made (especially the part not requiring public property). We think it should be approved.
There was news of new service at the port.
The new weekly, fixed-day service will provide importers and exporters a competitive option to serve the expanding trade between Mexico, Florida and the Southeast, according to the port’s announcement.
Mexico is already Port Tampa Bay’s second-largest trading partner in terms of cargo tonnage, which includes a diverse mix of dry bulk, liquid bulk, break bulk, roll-on/roll-off, as well as container business.
The new Mexico service through ZIM, a company the port has worked with since 2003, will deploy a 1,000-TEU (20-foot equivalent unit) capacity vessel departing Fridays from the Port of Altamira and calling Port Tampa Bay on Mondays.
It is not a particularly big ship, but more service is good.
Nestle has committed to 282,639 square feet in Building 300 at County Line Logistics Center, a 1.1 million-square-foot industrial park that broke ground speculatively in 2016. Developer McCraney Property Co. recently sold the park and five other warehouses in the Southeastern U.S. to Nuveen Global Investments for $272 million.
There are two other vacancies left in the park, Dunphy said: Building 100 has 90,000 square feet available, and there’s 166,000 square feet vacant in Building 400. But he said he doesn’t expect either to remain available for long; interest in Plant City’s industrial real estate, like the rest of the Interstate 4 corridor, is as high as it’s ever been.
Warehouses do not need incentives or subsidies.
We are not going to quote from this but someone sent us an interesting little piece from the Wall Street Journal on what CEO’s think about working from home. It is not scientific, but we think the general trend is clearly for getting the band back together.
You should be able to see it here.
Air travel has a major effect on Florida from business travel to tourism. Just this area was really hitting our stride, covid19 has really gotten in the way. How much?
Before the coronavirus, a decades-long aviation boom spawned a network of nearly 50,000 air routes that traversed the world. In less than a year, the pandemic has wiped almost a third of them off the map.
Border closures, nationwide lockdowns and the fear of catching Covid-19 from fellow passengers have crippled commercial travel. As thousands of domestic and international connections disappear completely from airline timetables, the world has suddenly stopped shrinking.
In late January, 47,756 operational routes criss-crossed the world, more than half of them in the U.S., Western Europe and Northeast Asia, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide. By Nov. 2, there were just 33,416 routes on global schedules, the data show.
And they did not seem to be nearly as full. (And see also here)
You can read more here.
It is will be interesting to see how long the road back is. One group has some U.S numbers:
And then there is cruising, where there was an attempt to have a cruise in the Caribbean, though not from a US port.
The SeaDream Yacht Club’s cruise ship received their first positive test result on Wednesday, prompting the captain to make an announcement for all guests to return to their rooms to quarantine. The vessel immediately headed back to Barbados from the Grenadines.
That obvious issue may be why cruises out of the U.S. are not likely to restart until next year. In fact:
In addition, the line canceled all sailings out of Baltimore; Charleston, South Carolina.; Jacksonville, Florida; Long Beach, California; Mobile, Alabama.; New Orleans; and San Diego through the end of February.
Once again, the best way to get closer to normal is to take logical steps to contain the virus (and cruises are likely one of the last things that will get back to normal).
While we are not going to join in on the obsession with “innovation” for innovation’s sake, one technology that actually is innovative and which TBARTA has seemingly completely ignored is hydrogen (of which there is an ample supply sloshing around these parts). We have previously discussed hydrogen powered rail as a possibility for use on the CSX tracks (for instance here, here, and here).
Last week, there was more from Cummins:
Cummins is a top maker of heavy-duty diesel engines but the company is gearing up for a zero-emissions future with big plans to supply hydrogen-electric power systems and electrolyzers that make the clean fuel. And while its core market is trucks, trains and buses look like a bigger commercial opportunity in the near term.
The Columbus, Indiana-based manufacturer, which supplies diesel engines for boats, heavy-duty pickups, delivery vehicles, buses and semis, laid out a comprehensive strategy in its “Hydrogen Day” presentation, covering its production of fuel cells, stationary power systems, fuel tanks and electrolyzers to help companies make their own hydrogen. Cummins is testing hydrogen-powered big rigs, but expects both transit operators and steelmakers needing to lower their carbon emissions to be the best early markets, Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger tells Forbes.
And, even better, this is not about travelling ten blocks or for $60 dollars. It involves actually getting people around in a reasonable way.
You can read more here.
Remember, regardless of openings being allowed and the mask rules, the virus is still here and the real issue is whether people will follow the proper advice because it is really up to people to care for themselves, their families, and their neighbors, even during the opening. So be responsible, stay safe, and take care of your community.
Wash your hands, wear a mask when appropriate/necessary (and cover BOTH your nose and your mouth), and practice social distancing.
Here are some links to government resources:
This week we have another picture from Eagle 8 WFLA’s Twitter feed: