crown jewel' waterfront park

2000

City plans `crown jewel' waterfront park

Tampa Mayor Dick Greco came back from Tallahassee this month with a State pledge of more than $2 million to help the city nearly double the size of a waterfront park next to the Marriott Waterside Hotel.

The Florida Communities Trust approved the grant proposal for Fort Brooke Park, a linear downtown park along the Garrison Channel.

The park is scheduled for construction in 2001. The state will pay 40 percent of the cost to buy the land.

Tampa already owned 2 acres near the Ice Palace.

``We're adding almost 2 more acres next to the Marriott,'' Greco said. ``That's going to be about $6 million. So together, the properties will be worth more than $12 million.''

Both tracts were owned by the Robert Brown Trust, which is based in Cincinnati. The city paid $65 per square foot for the first portion. Greco said Brown has agreed to sell the second portion for $75 per square foot - the same price the trust charged the Marriott.

officials from the state Department of Community Affairs would be in town soon to sign the contracts. He said the city has quietly gone about assembling all the undeveloped waterfront property it can get - especially downtown.

``Those opportunities rarely present themselves, when you can put together a 4-acre park right on the water downtown,''

Since 1996, the city has purchased more than 120 acres of waterfront land within city limits for public parks and recreation areas, using a combination of state, county and city funds.

Its newest waterfront purchase downtown will have a military theme.

The original Fort Brooke was established in 1824 and played a major role in the settlement of the Tampa Bay area. The military post stretched across land now occupied by the Tampa Convention Center, the hotel, the park and the Ice Palace, a member of the Krewe of Fort Brooke. The Krewe has established a foundation, together with the Seminole Tribe, to build in the park a $425,000 memorial to the Seminole Wars. The foundation will donate the memorial to the city. When the park is dedicated, Tampa will be the only city in the United States with a memorial of the wars that gives perspectives from each side of the battle line.

``Very few people understand the history of Tampa before the Civil War,'' `This park will probably be the crown jewel of all the downtown parks.''

The city still doesn't have a start date for park construction, which is estimated to cost $1.8 million. Jim Valentine, a landscape architect with the city's Parks Department, said the department will clean the property and plant grass to ``green it up'' before the Super Bowl in January. But the long- term plan calls for a completely different look.

To secure the state funding, the city agreed to replace the channel wall with a natural-looking vegetative shoreline. The city will extend its riverwalk from the Marriott to the edge of the property and will plant shade trees and mangroves along the shore.

 

 

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