St. Petersburg Times: “Investors outline an urban dream”

 In Civitas, News Archives

Excerpt from the St. Petersburg Times, December 3, 2003

TAMPA — A group of private investors led by one-time Olympic promoter Ed Turanchik unveiled an ambitious plan Thursday to transform one of the city’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods into an upscale community with tree-lined sidewalks and tranquil parks.

The project calls for re-engineering 157 acres of land in downtown that now house low-income apartments and the Central Park Village housing project into a single master-planned comunity where organizers say the rich and poor will live together.

Gone wold be the concrete block housing projects, the seedy bars and the boarded-up vacant houses that make the Central Park area one of the city’s blighted spots.

In its place, developers would build a massive project stretching from downtown to Ybor City with 2,500 upscale condos and townhouses, 1,000 low-cost units, and retail stores covering 185,000 square feet.

Turanchik’s company could construct as many as five high-rise residential towers in downtown, redesign two urban streets into majestic, tree-lined boulevards, and construct a new park and lake downtown.

The company would set up a financing structure to pour millions into a new non-profit, A Foundation for a Better Place, that would pay for concerts, social events, and charity work. It would leverage federal housing money to set up a trust fund to maintain low-cost and public housing units.

Outside of Central Park, the group plans to build low-cost homes on hundreds of lots in east Tampa, West Tampa and Tampa Heights. They would not only provide the lots, but provide the residences, dubbed “Renaissance Homes,” too.