TAMPA, Fla. — The City of Tampa is spearheading a pilot program aimed at reviving commercial areas located in neighborhood districts.
But some business owners and residents in West Tampa have concerns.
“You have a historic district that’s really been overlooked for many, many years,” said Randy Gores, Tampa’s Director of City Planning.
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Indeed, Main Street in West Tampa has seen better days.
But business owner Karol Ortiz is hoping those better days are back soon.
In February, Ortiz and her partner opened a Mexican restaurant named Cantinas on the corner of Main Street and Howard Ave. But the homeless and a recent spike in crime has presented challenges for the business.
“They’re building some condos at the end of Main Street, so hopefully those are going to be potential customers,” Ortiz said. “I want my customers to feel safe and unfortunately sometimes they don’t feel that way.”
Those are the concerns Gores wants to hear.
He’s heading the city’s effort to revitalize the West Tampa commercial district. And community input will be the key to success, he said.
Main Street and Howard Avenue in West Tampa. (Spectrum News image)
“We just have to work with the community to figure out, what is the best vision for the Main Street district,” Gores said. “And how could we build on its strengths and address weaknesses.”
Gores also said part of the movement is finding out how to breathe new life into an important part of Tampa history.
“We hope that, eventually, the area, people are going to be like restaurant hopping, bar hopping,” Ortiz said.
City leaders are not just planning for West Tampa.
On Wednesday, officials are holding a virtual meeting for those who work and live in Palma Ceia.
It’s the start of a two-month process to create a community vision for both communities.