Tampa, Fla. (May 11, 2015) – Leaders from throughout the Tampa Bay area gathered at the Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory on Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate construction progress and the official naming of the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center.
Construction crews have been renovating the building since late 2014. When work is completed in 2016, the facility will once again become a crown jewel in West Tampa – with more than 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art community space. The Bryan Glazer Family JCC will include a visual arts center, a premier events center, a fitness and outdoor aquatics facility, an indoor track, and a multi-sport gymnasium. The facility will also house numerous educational offerings as well as a diverse offering of senior programs, and an Innovation Center for Israeli start up companies who wish to do business in the United States.
“Because of the leadership and generosity of Bryan Glazer and dozens of other individuals and families, as well as the support of all of our elected officials, the dream of a new JCC is now becoming a reality,” said Jack Ross, Executive Director of the JCC. “This project will have a great impact – not only for the Jewish community, but the entire Tampa Bay region.”
The JCC will bring Jewish and non-Jewish communities together for education, recreation, wellness, social and cultural pursuits against a backdrop of Jewish values.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be involved with the new JCC,” said Bryan Glazer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Co-Chairman. “This facility will change lives in a positive way through programs that engage, educate and entertain. What makes it even more special is the fact that it’s all happening at a place with so much history.”
The Fort Homer Hesterly Armory opened in 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Over the years, in addition to serving as a National Guard armory, the venue also hosted speeches by President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as performances by Elvis Presley, the Doors, Buddy Holly and many others. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it has been vacant since 2004.
Monday’s groundbreaking celebrated the facility’s rich past, but also looked to the future. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, State Senator Jeff Brandes, State Representative Dana Young, County Commission Chair Sandy Murman, and City Council Member Harry Cohen all spoke about the importance of the new JCC as a catalyst for West Tampa and the entire region.
Construction of the project totals $26 million. Both public and private dollars are funding the initiative. In addition to support from Bryan and Shanna Glazer, the state of Florida, Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa, scores of families and individuals have made private donations. Some of the families who made significant contributions participated in the groundbreaking on Monday include Jeff and Penny Vinik; Diane, Leon, Todd, Shari and Lee Mezrah; David Scher and Sara Golding Scher; Jan, Michael and Ashley Wuliger; David, Nancy, Sam and Stacie Linsky; Chrisi and David Laxer; Lynne and Fred Merriam; Aydin and Barbara Keskiner; and Jeffrey Berger.