A Call for Better Urban Design on Tampa's Grand Central Avenue
A column by Linda Saul-Sena expresses relief and lingering concern over the potential fate of three blocks on Grand Central Avenue in Tampa—described as "one of the most distinctive streetscapes" in the city. According to Saul-Sena, the concern over the fate of the streetscape has emerged from a proposed development by the Altman Development Group out of Boca Raton. Altman "has requested several key variances to build in a parking lot across the street from Mise, including the removal of three grand live oaks and the demolition of three contributing historic structures."
More of Saul-Sena's concern about the proposal:
"The demolition and tree removal issues are all problematic, but my beef was the original design, which was lackluster and unworthy of this key location. MSA Architects from Miami presented a pedestrian-hostile, nondescript building that could be anywhere in Florida. Grand Central Avenue deserves decent-sized shade trees and decent-sized shops with windows allowing passersby to view something engaging, but MSA’s original plans indicated “lollipop” trees (skinny trunks with a small round top) and opaque walls with nothing going on."
Though Saul-Sena has evidence that the developer and its design team have been responsive to concerns like these, but the column also makes a plea for continued vigilance lest a mediocre building undermine one of the best streets in Tampa.