August 31, 2015
Neighborhood watch in Tampa

Photo: Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has put a priority on revitalizing Sulphur Springs and other neighborhoods that have fallen into disrepair.

Southwest Florida Roundup

Neighborhood watch in Tampa

Tampa's mayor makes Sulphur Springs' revitalization a priority.

Art Levy | 6/27/2014

Twenty years ago, Tampa's Sulphur Springs neighborhood was one of the city's most stable. Five miles north of downtown, the neighborhood featured modest homes, oakcanopied streets and proximity to the Hillsborough River.

"Then, a lot of families who lived there, they got older, some passed away, and the kids didn't maintain the properties, and the neighborhood went downhill," says Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick, whose district includes the neighborhood. "That's why there has been such an influx of abandoned homes. It became a drug haven, as well as prostitution and all of that."

The neighborhood has become a focus of Mayor Bob Buckhorn's effort to revitalize some of the city's worst areas. The city has torn down dilapidated homes and cleared more than 70 lots in Sulphur Springs and neighboring areas within the last year. In recent months, the neighborhood got more than 400 new streetlights and more attention from codes and law enforcement officials. Buckhorn boasts that "neighborhood enhancement officers" have hauled away 150 tons of debris — from litter to broken appliances — from blighted neighborhood alleys, vacant lots and streets within the last year. Meanwhile, crime in Sulphur Springs is down by 20%.

The city, using $1.4 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds, is also overseeing the construction of 11 homes in the neighborhood. The first — a three-bedroom, two-bath bungalow — went on the market in May for $85,000. Officials say that increasing homeownership is essential to sustaining the improvements.

"The neighborhood has struggled because of the high number of renters," says Vanessa McCleary, Tampa's housing and community development manager. "When you put more homeowners into a neighborhood, you're going to change the dynamics of that neighborhood."

Players

Punit Shah is CEO of Liberty Group, a Tampa hotel investment, development and management company. He replaced his father, Raxit Shah, who stays as executive chairman.

AVI-SPL, a video communications company, has appointed Raj Dani as CFO. He had been senior vice president of corporate development for TeleTech Holdings, a California business outsourcing company.

Jane Tutoki is CEO of the Cunningham Lindsey Group, a Tampabased insurance services firm.

Profile: Hivelocity

Founded 13 years ago by four friends in St. Petersburg, data center provider Hivelocity now has more than 6,000 customers in 137 countries. The company, which employs 40, recently spent more than $1 million to expand its data center in Tampa. “When you grow a data center, you need to bring in more cooling capability, more power management components, more batteries … and then add fire suppression in the ceiling and beneath the raised floor,” says Steve Eschweiler, director of operations. “It was a lot more than knocking down some walls and putting up drywall.”

Business Briefs

BONITA SPRINGS - Gates Construction and the Seminole Tribe of Florida announced a joint venture called Seminole/ Gates Development and Construction that will look to win contracts as a minority-owned construction firm. > The city's annexation of two major properties — the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa and Weeks Fish Camp on Estero Bay — are projected to add more than $17,000 in tax revenue to Bonita Springs' annual $20.5-million budget.

BRANDON - Brandon Regional Hospital has started work on a $60-million expansion. DADE CITY - Pasco County-based Florida Traditions Bank, with eight locations in central Florida, is being merged into Arkansas-based Centennial Bank in a $43-million deal. Before the sale, Traditions had $312 million in total assets, $249 million in loans and $279 million in deposits.

FORT MYERS - Frontier Airlines announced plans to offer non-stop flights between Southwest Florida International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. The four weekly flights begin in September.

PASCO COUNTY - Residents of the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club community succeeded in de-annexing from the town of St. Leo. The move will save each homeowner about $600 and cut $50,000 from St. Leo's tax revenue.

SARASOTA - Scarborough Research, a Nielsen company that creates research data, plans to lay off 220 at its Sarasota call center. The Selby Foundation contributed $300,000 toward the Ringling College of Art and Design's proposed $22-million art museum project. The museum would be the city's first devoted to modern and contemporary art.

ST. PETERSBURG - The city's Al Lang Stadium, built for baseball in 1977 and now used for professional soccer, needs updating, says the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team that plays there. Among the complaints: An unlevel field, broken seats and locker rooms that flood when it rains. Team owner Bill Edwards says he'll consider moving the team if repairs aren't made.move will save each homeowner about $600 and cut $50,000 from St. Leo's tax revenue.

SARASOTA - Scarborough Research, a Nielsen company that creates research data, plans to lay off 220 at its Sarasota call center. The Selby Foundation contributed $300,000 toward the Ringling College of Art and Design's proposed $22-million art museum project. The museum would be the city's first devoted to modern and contemporary art.

ST. PETERSBURG - The city's Al Lang Stadium, built for baseball in 1977 and now used for professional soccer, needs updating, says the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team that plays there. Among the complaints: An unlevel field, broken seats and locker rooms that flood when it rains. Team owner Bill Edwards says he'll consider moving the team if repairs aren't made.

TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are planning a $7-million renovation to Raymond James Stadium's main concessions area. > Santiago Corrada, president of Visit Tampa Bay, says the four-day International Indian Film Awards, held in late April, generated about $30 million in spending in Hillsborough County.

VENICE - Cup maker Tervis Tumbler is spending $3 million to construct a 24,000-sq.- ft. Building adjacent to its headquarters.

Obituaries

• Developer Al Austin

Al Austin, a Tampa developer and civic booster, died May 22 at age 85. Austin, who spurred the development of Tampa's West Shore business district, was a Republican fundraiser who helped the city land the 2012 Republican National Convention. "His decadeslong effort to bring the Republican National Convention to Tampa will continue to pay dividends," says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

• Former Mayor Corinne Freeman

Corinne Freeman, St. Petersburg's first female mayor, died May 11. She was 87. After serving as mayor from 1977-85, Freeman, at 62, became a stockbroker but continued her public service by serving on the Pinellas County School Board for 10 years.

• Bucs Owner Malcolm Glazer

Malcolm Glazer, the Palm Beach businessman who owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Manchester United soccer club in London, died May 28. He was 85. When Glazer purchased the Bucs in 1995, the team was mainly known for losing. In 2002, however, the Bucs won the Super Bowl. Three of his sons are cochairmen of the Bucs and help run the team.

Tags: Southwest, Tampa Bay, Housing/Construction, Real Estate

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single digital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

New Cancer Treatment
New Cancer Treatment

Doctors at Florida Hospital Tampa have come up with a new procedure to treat pancreatic cancer. 

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

With Florida hitting the 20-million residents milestone this year, which societal infrastructure needs the most improvement?

  • Affordable housing
  • Education
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • Water/sewer
  • Other

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe