North Boulevard Homes and Mary McLeod Bethune Homes, built in 1940 and 1966 respectively, contain 832 public housing units for Tampa, Florida’s families and seniors on 40 acres of land.
Based on recent studies the Tampa Housing Authority is working with North Boulevard and Mary McLeod Bethune Homes residents to create a plan for the future for these housing developments.
Tampa’s city government and the Tampa Housing Authority are embarking on a grand experiment: Rebuilding a neighborhood from the ground up.
The West River Redevelopment project will redevelop 150 acres on the west bank of the Hillsborough River near downtown. The project will begin with demolition of North Boulevard Homes, a 1940s-era housing project, and other buildings.
Streets will be extended or reconnected, up-to-date utilities will go in the ground and residential buildings and retail establishments surrounded by green space will rise where slums long festered.
But beyond the brick and mortar, the backhoes and the landscaping, the city harbors larger ambitions for West River. It’s what Tampa Economic Development chief Bob McDonaugh calls a “holistic approach to building a neighborhood.”
In real terms, that means the city wants to create hope for a brighter future in a community where, previously, hope came to die.
The West River project had its genesis in InVision Tampa, a master planning process begun in 2011. InVision involved planners, bureaucrats and regular people searching for ways to revitalize the neighborhoods surrounding downtown. A key recommendation in the final InVision plan was to tear down the dreary, crime-ridden North Boulevard Homes and the nearby Mary Bethune Tower, thus uncorking the bottled-up potential of the Hillsborough River’s west bank.
Leroy Moore, Chief Operating Officer of the Tampa Housing Authority, says InVision is a blueprint for how “neighborhoods interact in their relationship to the downtown job center.”
“It’s transportation, people living in a beltway around the job center, better access to cultural and educational institutions,” Moore says. “That’s how you grow a city — from the center out.”
A household name in Florida real estate circles has been selected for this massive redevelopment project in West Tampa.
On July 27, 2016, the Tampa Housing Authority announced that it has selected Related Urban Group to redevelop the city’s oldest public housing site, North Boulevard Homes and Mary Bethune.