Tampa’s troubled university area now has a blueprint for revitalization

Drug use, drug sales, the gangs and guns that come with them, break-ins, thefts, domestic violence, a run-down look…

A newly-commissioned report for the Tampa Innovation Alliance contains 146 pages of the troubles–and potential solutions–facing a troubled part of Tampa, Florida: the area around the University of South Florida that has now been labeled the University Area/Tampa Innovation District.

The report’s litany of woes may not be new to those familiar with the area, but it is comprehensive, and — as an action plan — suggests first steps toward turning it all around.

The $112,000 report, prepared by Ken Stapleton & Associates of Miami, will serve as a road map for a community-based effort, said Mark Sharpe, a former Hillsborough County Commissioner and head of the Tampa Innovation Alliance — a partnership of businesses and institutions working to revitalize the area.

Recommendations include:

  • Installing solar lighting for both empty lots and homes;
  • Creating “Clean & Green Teams” to remedy trash, weeds, graffiti and other physical signs of disorder;
  • Establishing partnerships for improvements to University Mall;
  • Developing a strategic communication plan for real and perceived safety issues;
  • Boosting recreational and community service opportunities for children and youth.

About the Tampa Innovation Alliance:
The Tampa Innovation Alliance is a multi-jurisdictional district anchored by globally-recognized institutions who drive economic activity in the area, engaging tens of thousands of students and educators, healthcare workers and patients, and four million tourists annually. Our anchor institutions include:

  • University of South Florida
  • Busch Gardens
  • Moffitt Cancer Center
  • Florida Hospital
  • RD Management (University Mall)

Under new leadership and with institutional support, the Alliance is poised to engage business and community as we lead revitalization and renaissance – building an engaged community recognized as an innovation destination through an inclusive effort drawing from the creative minds of our community.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance comprises 25,000 acres in the northern part of Tampa: bound by Busch Boulevard on the south, Bearss Avenue on the north, and interstates 75 and 275 on the east and west. It includes parts of Tampa, Temple Terrace and unincorporated Hillsborough County.

The mission of the Alliance is to build a place that people want to live, work and play. Our focus is on Transforming, Enriching & Connecting our Alliance area. And our vision is to transform this transient area into a destination, rather than just a thoroughfare to the university, entertainment venues or hospitals. While our cross-sector anchor institutions provide economic and social structure, we recognize that the community’s essence and identity are defined by the people who live here.

Photo of USF campus by FightingRaven531 via Wikipedia.

See full article by Lenora Lake in the Tampa Bay Times.

See Tampa Innovation Alliance website.

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