Council Awaits More Answers in Downtown Redevelopment Project

Council members want assurances the developer will make every effort to secure retail tenants for the project.

Temple Terrace City Council members fine-tuned some of their questions and concerns about the and now are waiting for answers from the developer before taking up the issue again.

Many of the questions council members raised during the workshop session Tuesday centered around the mixture of retail and residential use on the bottom floor of three buildings in the project, said Michael Dunn, city spokesman.

Those questions were also voiced at earlier about the development.

The council favors retail shops on the ground floor of buildings in an apartment complex that is part of the downtown redevelopment with residences on the upper floors.

The developer, Vlass Temple Terrace, has said putting retail establishments on the bottom floor may not be financially feasible in today’s market.

Among the ideas the city and developer have discussed is to build ground floor units to suit retail needs then trying to rent them to businesses but turn to residential tenants if it is not possible.

All council members said they wanted assurances the developer would make a whole-hearted effort to secure retail occupants, Dunn said.

Council members, continuing discussions from an earlier council meeting, on Tuesday outlined their stances and concerns to the developer. Once the city receives a response, the council will hold another workshop, Dunn said.

Among the questions council members raised was whether the idea to build the first-floor units with 14-foot ceilings as proposed would be adequate for businesses.

Council member Alison Fernandez wanted an independent review of what ceiling heights would be adequate for retail establishments. Dunn said there was concern that 14 feet may not be enough for some businesses that might need higher ceilings.

And member David Pogorilich wanted upper floors to be owner-occupied rather than apartments with the bottom floor retail, Dunn said.

Originally the city wanted the 214-unit complex to be condominiums rather than rentals but that has changed.

Council members also continue to be concerned there will be adequate parking to serve retail tenants and occupants of the buildings.

Pam Devoid June 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM
As a resident since 1973 and a supporter of the redevelopment since day one. My husband and I are currently looking into listing our home and relocating. If the council cannot see what apartments have done to our city there is no hope. It has been obvious all along Vlass has no concern with retail, we are adding more apartments to eventually become additional section 8 in our city and our dream is not being recognized. I can no longer support a money hungry developer and a city council with no back bone. 2 years ahead of schedule and we are compromising for apartments, way to go. Our former city representatives had backbone and represented the residents, on a positive note 3 available council seats and some great people with backbone getting ready to run. There will be a change in the City of Temple Terrace.
JS June 13, 2012 at 01:02 PM
NO MORE APARTMENTS. Hello, are you nothing but a bunch of gullible baffoons on city council? What is the matter with you?
JS June 13, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Pam, give us the names of the candidates running that will put an end to this lunacy.
Carol Dell June 13, 2012 at 01:25 PM
The Council needs to make the Developers stick to the Vision we developed for our Town Center. If not we will have a glorified apartment conplex on the 27 million dollars worth of land we gave them in good faith to create a walkable Downtown in which the citizens could gather, shop and dine. The citizens need to let the Council members and the Mayor know how they feel!! Carol Dell
Richard Diaz June 13, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Definition of Corrupt-Guilty of Dishonest Practices,Lacking Integrity,Crooked,Marked By Immorality and Perversion,Bribery.Someone needs to contact Governor Scott , The State Attorney or at the very least news media.
Richard Diaz June 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Definition of Corrupt=Guilty of Dishonest Practices,Lacking Integrity,Marked By Immorality and Perversion,Crooked,Bribery.Someone needs to contact the Governor,State Attorney or News Media.
Jamie Robe June 13, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Our city is on the threshold of a positive future, we just need to stay the course. I have a question about the view that this economy will not support retail (in the lower floors). Look around everyone, there are many many new offices and stores are being built as in-fill development. Our own city is growing like crazy from Fowler to Fletcher. Things are bad in some ways, but a recovery is underway. By the time the downtown buildings are up and running, the economy should be doing much better to boot. This is a stimulus to the economy... jobs during construction, jobs for our sons and daughters when these stores in the redevelopment open up. To honest, I am not as invested in the apartment vs the condo question... that will sort itself out eventually. But having either without the retail of a true town center would be a terrible , self-destructive move by our community. We don't need just a new apartment/condo complex, anymore than we need a new retail only shopping plaza. This is going to be a wonderful, groovy place to go to. The true center of our beautiful city. The best thing to do is to look for win-win situations here. To me, the true test of the new downtown is this: In 5 years when it is done, will we feel good about riding our bikes or golf carts down there to stroll around the park, streets, shops, and maybe visit some friends or family that live upstairs?
Krystal June 13, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I would prefer apartments. Possibly apartments AND condos? But you can't just shut that out because you're afraid of your neighbors. I know the older residents see "Section 8" (which I think is pretty much a nice write off for underlying racism, tyvm) but young people like myself - college educated, good jobs, "the works" - came to Temple Terrace because it was affordable, we're starting out, and in my case, we like the spread out feel of TT versus South Tampa. You have to be realistic and that means realizing that we can't afford to buy condos and we won't put up with being labeled as bad because we may resemble your idea of "Section 8" or whatever you're so hung up on. Perhaps these apartments, built with good materials, using good contractors and finishings, will nudge surrounding apartments to do the same, it's not as if Landmark and other owners don't have the money, they just haven't been shoved into doing it because there's no real competition. You aren't the only residents, you're just the oldest, but just because you complain the loudest doesn't mean Council should disregard their only hope for BUILDING TT (young, educated people looking to commit to living and building this area, with believe it or not, very strong connections). Crime, low-income residents and all that you're insinuating are facts of life EVERYWHERE. Build safeguards to assist and rehabilitate these people rather than cast them out. A problem doesn't just disappear, after all.
Krystal June 13, 2012 at 03:12 PM
And I agree with Jamie in regard to retail. Look at other downtown locations with first floor retail, even college campuses are installing first floor retail in their dorms. It's not only doable but a great idea, and I'm positive local businesses will take this opportunity to expand their businesses or move to a larger, more modern, space.
JS June 13, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Prolly be a good idea to see what Vlass is charging for rent too City Council. Number one reason I hear from local business is that rent is considerably cheaper off the town center. Thats a recipe for failure in this economic environment.
Quentin June 13, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Jamie you couldn't identify a pile of cow poop even if you stepped it. You are always being the RAH RAH guy and and is the old saying "If wishes were horses..." This is a pig!! the whole thing is a pig! you wanting it to be a pretty pony won't change that. If you want something good to come from it start working for it! instead of always wanting us to hope that good things are around the corner. Sometimes a bad deal is just a bad deal ADMIT IT and help with the cause.
JS June 13, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Although I don't always approve of Quentin's approach, and in the past I was BIG supporter, he is dead on about this. I would rather my taxes raised to plant grass and trees to have the worlds most expensive park than to have my taxes raised to line the pockets of developer who lied and went back on his word and pack the city with more low income housing right in the downtown area. When they signed on for the deal they new damn well what they were going to do. Let's not be stupid here people comeon. You think Vlass didnt know the market, demographics and what the financial institutions would support? These guys came aboard when the economic disaster was already underway. Of course they knew. You want more section 8 and thuggery roaming your streets while the developer lines his pockets then you let this wooden apartment scheme get built. As citizens we have to come to grips we made a mistake and tightly control any chance for further skullduggery!
Jamie Robe June 13, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Indeed, I do know that cow poop is all brown and squishy, with little bits of straw poking out. LOL You know, instead of a bunch of "the sky is falling"... how about some hard data and numbers ... or a workable alternative plan. Instead of being driven by fear and impending doom, lets put our heads together for a solution. And If I am not mistaken, every small town and city in the "gold old days" had lots of apartments with stores below. I would bet that not many people had ever heard of a condo agreement in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s. Again, I am all for either or both. I really liked what Krystal wrote.
JS June 13, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Every town in the old days had one small strip downtown, where everyone shopped, no competition. The idea that what works in the 1950's works here is ridiculous. We are in the middle of a megapolis with dozens of miles of retail space, not Frostbite Falls, Maine. The bank is balking at loaning on this concept without reversal clauses precisely for that fact. If Vlass puts up the proper deposit, the loan would likely go through, but they want none of their own money in. Cold hard facts? I am sure they are available, but the obvious isn't so unbelievable. Have city council look into the percentage of Section 8 rentals in existing complexes. Our impotent Code enforcement can't what we got looking decent. How long downtown looks trashed? One cold hard fact already been posted on the patch. Rentals in TT are way over 50% of dwellings. Well beyond the norm for our town this size. Come talk to the older residents on my block, the 80+'s. They will tell you how the city council railroaded in complexes like Doral Oaks and Normandy against large citizen dissent. This is nothing new. You want more of that? The workable plan is to STICK TO THE ONE promised the citizens and that was NOT RENTALS. I am sorry Vlass can't line their pockets enough with condos now. Fear and impending doom is exactly the tactic Vlass used to try to railroad this through in the first place. Good thing is we had at least some council members stand up against it.
Quentin June 14, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Exactly JW and do not forget "Councils way" they named because council forced the multi family concept AGAINST what the citizens wanted and look at that trash heap today. the name came about because Council got its way. Vlass does not care about you me the city or anything except his bank statements. Don't blame him for being the hardcore moneymaking business he is, blame the idiots in council and the freakin mayor who gives them anything on a platter.
Richard Diaz June 14, 2012 at 12:55 PM
The only possible good that could come from apartments is that one of the renters steals the statue and sells it for $crap
Lucinda Johnston June 15, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Pam, we are planning to list our home too. We love our house, yard and the river but are not willing to gamble our retirement on a city council that has many of its members and especially a mayor that is in the pocket of Vlass. They did nothing to try to keep the small business that were uprooted by the project. Grace Hydroponics and the pet store are doing well in their new locations. With reasonable rent and some incentives they may have stayed. The chances of a serious effort to find retail in the limited amount of time they have allocated are slim to none. They also have a time line that makes everything a done deal before we have a chance to vote in people who will look out for our best interest. I hope all candidates running for election will use this forum and be up front about how they would handle this situation.
Lucinda Johnston June 15, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I agree with your assertion that trees and grass would be better than increasing the population density without providing for retail or other services. It does make me angry that Vlass is getting away with maximizing profits while throwing us under a bus.
Lucinda Johnston June 15, 2012 at 03:09 PM
To imply that we don't want more cheap apartments because we are afraid of our neighbors is insulting. Bottom line, cheap apartments and Section 8 housing diminishes property values. Temple Terrace already has 53% of its household renting. We don't need more. And, if you truly believe that crime is the same everywhere, I would direct you to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office website where you will find the vastly different crime statistics for neighborhoods in Hillsborough County. Ours, in our relatively small town, is above the national average. We have a great police department with fine officers doing there best. But the fact remains that we do have a higher crime rate than other small communities and there is a positive correlation between the number of rental households and the crime rate in communities. Your attack that we are racist doesn't even merit a response.
Lucinda Johnston June 15, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I think the statue is a perfect monument to this entire process. Back door deals, hush-hush, wink-wink, and you get a statue with a plaque that welcome us to a downtown that is nothing more than a gold mine for some folks in Atlanta. At least take the plaque down. There is no downtown.
Krystal June 15, 2012 at 03:39 PM
The only way to better the situation is to become actively involved in the effort, not to complain about how horrible it is online. Try, instead of Googling statistics and knocking down every opportunity to modernize the community, to help the people in the community and make sure resources are provided. You can't keep trying to ostracize a significant portion of a community, it's bitter and it's not going to help matters any. Downtown is supposed to unify and bring up Temple Terrace, instead you all are creating a huge divide. Look at Downtown Tampa and Channelside, no one is buying condos, so they were forced to rent them out, clearly condos are not secure right now and will not move. High end apartments, like this Downtown TT will provide, is exactly what people like me want to have in an area like TT. And with that, the neighboring apartments will either be forced to up their quality or be bought out for expansion of Downtown, which should be a long-term goal anyway.
Grant Rimbey June 15, 2012 at 05:58 PM
“Temple Terrace, developers still seek compromise for downtown project” http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/temple-terrace-developers-still-seek-compromise-for-downtown-project/1235094
JS June 15, 2012 at 06:22 PM
The only one on city council with brains and guts ""Council member Alison Fernandez countered that this isn't a case where a developer has bought the land and the city has stepped in to interfere. She pointed out that the city has given the land — which it bought years ago for $21 million — to the developer. In exchange, the developer should build the project according to the city's vision, she said.""
John Rice June 16, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I have been coming to meetings for ten years advising financial caution and the fact that we should be listening to professionals who have the money if we want redevelopment done. That did not happen. What did happen is we have a very rigid set of architectural standards and a lot of land with no money to redevelop. In addition, we have developer number three (or four or five or six) depending on how you look at it and an iron clad MDA agreement that does not specify "vertical" mixed use so they are instistin on a concept of neighborhood mixed use. The world has changed the last five years and Vlass will need Inland's money to do this deal. The City Planning consultant that our own city hired stated that mixed use was a passe concept as people don't want to live upstairs from a restaurant/bar considering garbage, noise, etc. even though it was the darling of City planners ten years ago. In speaking with Mr. Sneed, a week or so ago, he was very firm that Inland did not do vertical mixed use and indicated they could not finance mixed use. I am not sure and no data is available as to the facts, can we afford a performing arts center, new library and enough police protection to keep us safe in the CRA? My plan is to let them develop upscale apartment complexes in phase 2 and 3 so they have to pay some takedown fees for increasing density and build all the public buildings now with mixed use under them instead of apartments. http://vacationtc.com/ttredevelopment.html
JS June 18, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I drove past Marbella Townhomes on Fowler today near Morris Bridge Road. The complex went through a bankruptcy and was bought out after the collapse I believe. The present owners have had the project for several years. It was about 1/3 complete and sat in limbo since then. A shame, because the units were beautiful. Lo and behold! They are building NEW condo townhomes to complete the complex!! How can this be? Townhomes and condos aren't selling.!!! To whomever owns the Marbella project, have you not talked to Vlass? Are you fools?
Carol Dell June 23, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I'm glad to see so many good comments about the redevelopment....I hope they have also been expressed to our mayor, city council, and city manager. If not here are links to their emails: http://www.templeterrace.com/govt/manager_index.htm (city manager) http://www.templeterrace.com/govt/council_index.htm ( mayor and city council) Carol Dell


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