Top honorees are Victor Crist for regional advocacy,
and the design team for the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 29, 2019) – The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s 27th annual Future of the Region Awards honored 20 public and private sector winners for their notable achievements in resource planning and management in Tampa Bay on Friday, April 26.
The Herman W. Goldner Award for Regional Leadership, named for the founding father of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, was presented to longtime elected official Victor Crist of Tampa, for the spirit of regional cooperation he has shown in his work for decades.
For more than 30 years, Crist has facilitated regional thinking and innovative public and private initiatives through his many positions in government. He has served as a State Representative, State Senator, Hillsborough County Commissioner and on the boards of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority and the Environmental Protection Commission.
Among his many accomplishments, he founded the University Area Community Development Corp. in the 1990s as a way to provide assistance to one of Tampa’s more vulnerable communities. As chairman of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council in 2015, he oversaw the growth of the organization to include Citrus and Hernando counties, and a ramp-up of the Council’s work in the areas of resiliency and sea level rise.
The Future of the Region Awards’ other top honor, the prestigious One Bay McIntosh Award, was given to Tom and Mary James, Harvard Jolly Architecture, Yann Weymouth and Wannemacher Jensen Architects for the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art. The James’ created the museum so they could share their extensive collection of western and wildlife art with the community and all who visit.
The James Museum’s success shows the powerful impact of an inviting, distinctive redevelopment in an urban core, as the project’s architects, Harvard Jolly led by design director Weymouth, transformed a vacant office building into a stunning 81,000-square-foot museum. Weymouth previously designed the Dali Museum and the Hazel Hough Wing of the Museum of Fine Arts.
As an example of the innovative design thinking involved in the James Museum, the lobby was designed to resemble a canyon, complete with 120-foot-tall sandstone and a waterfall. Since its opening last year, the James Museum has significantly added to the reputation of the city of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area as a world-class destination for the arts.
The following are other award winners in each of the six different categories:
- Capitol Theatre: The city of Clearwater, which owns the theater, and Ruth Eckerd Hall each financed half of the historic downtown landmark’s $10 million renovation in 2013. Since then, the 737-seat gem has bolstered tourism and economic development and was ranked the world’s 15th best venue with 800 or fewer seats by Pollstar magazine in 2018.
- Tampa’s Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park redevelopment project converted a 25-acre park that was in disrepair into a vibrant, engaging and sustainable public space. The project involved more public input than any another project in the history of the Tampa recreation department.
- The Seminole City Center, developed by NADG/Primerica Group One, opened in 2017, transformed a once-struggling shopping center into a thriving hub of commerce and community gatherings. Along with stores and restaurants, the 424,000-square-foot mixed use center includes play areas, green space and trellised walkways.
Community preparedness and resiliency
- USF-Dunedin Community partnership: Dunedin’s Community Sustainability Partnership with the University of South Florida utilized the university’s students, faculty and research capabilities to address important planning issues within the city. The students provided data-driven recommendations at a fraction of the cost of a private consultant.
- Manatee County EMS Raptor 1: Raptor 1 is a transportation unit for mass casualties or large medical transports. It repurposes and retrofits heavy-duty transit coaches that have reached the end of their useful life into multi-casualty transport units.
- Pinellas County Sea Level Rise Planning Tool: The planning tool is a step-by-step approach for considering sea level rise and storm surge-related vulnerability and risk for capital plans and projects. A GIS viewer was constructed for consultants and local jurisdictions to use so they can visualize at-risk infrastructure as they make decisions.
- LiveWell Dunedin, an initiative promoting better health created by Dunedin’s Parks & Recreation department last year, has been well received by many of the town’s 35,000 residents. LiveWell Dunedin focuses on more than weight loss. It encourages people to get moving, find emotional peace, connect socially and eat better. The city promoted snack guides, exercise classes, camps and clubs through many avenues including its Facebook page, which has 21,000 followers.
- Largo’s Library in Your Neighborhood Bookmobile issued 158 library cards, welcomed 509 visitors and checked out 953 items in the first few weeks after it opened last year. The Greater Largo Library Foundation raised $675,000 for the vehicle, materials and five years of operating costs. It regularly visits recreation centers, community centers and assisted living facilities.
- Move Safe Pinellas is a social media campaign created by Pinellas Public Works aimed at keeping bicyclists and pedestrians safer. Along with disseminating videos about safety, the program distributes bike helmets and makes sure they fit right, gives out bike lights and spreads the word through Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day and the Great American Teach-in.
Economy and energy
- Port Tampa Bay’s Big Bend Channel Deepening and Widening: The $63 million construction project is expected to bring bigger ships, new jobs and freight efficiencies to the area. The funding strategy is unprecedented, with private companies partnering with public entities to dredge a federal channel.
- Creating Together Bradenton: City of Bradenton and Realize Bradenton’s project facilitated a resident-driven planning process to create a Master Plan to double the length of the downtown Riverwalk and extend it into the neighborhood where Bradenton was founded.
- Hillsborough County Economic Development Veterans Florida Agriculture Program: In partnership with UF/IFAS Research and Education Centers, the 9-month paid internship teaches veterans the agriculture and agribusiness industries. Since its inception in 2016, the program has a 100% job offer rate for those who complete the program.
- Safety Harbor Waterfront Park: The City of Safety Harbor’s 13-acre Waterfront Park has been revived with the creation of a preservation area, restored critical habitats and protection of ecologically sensitive areas throughout the wetland portion. The park was previously deteriorating with the accumulation of debris and overgrowth.
- Gulf Coast Oyster Recycle & Renewal Program: Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START) worked with local restaurants to establish the first oyster shell recycling program in Manatee County. The project resulted in 15 tons of recycled shells that were used to create 800 square feet of new oyster habitats.
- Old Tampa Bay Water Quality Improvement Project: The Florida Department of Transportation embarked on a series of projects to test improving water quality in Old Tampa Bay. A portion of the Courtney Campbell Causeway is being replaced to benefit sea grass resources and restore tidal circulation.
Transportation and mobility
- Big Bend Road Preliminary Land Use and Transportation Study: Hillsborough County Public Works created a process to integrate transportation and land use policy decisions to direct development to help frame the Big Bend Road corridor in South Hillsborough County, which will soon have its first new high school in 10 years.
- The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority’s Planes, Trains, & Busses initiative is about connections. Tampa International Airport opened its new Rental Car Center last year with a 1.4-mile SkyConnect train for transporting travelers in under five minutes. The airport also added a new transit stop to enable five new bus routes, including HART’s first express bus from Pasco County.
- Petersburg’s Cross Bay Ferry has been extremely successful, carrying close to 23,000 passengers on a direct route between St. Petersburg and Tampa in the December 2018-January 2019 timeframe alone. This new option for regional transportation has surpassed expectations and is often booked days in advance on the weekends.
About the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council
Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council works with 27 west-central Florida municipalities to assist the municipalities as they make long-range plans related to the future of the Tampa Bay region. The Council’s work focuses on resiliency, planning for climate change and sea level rise, environmental management, water quality, emergency preparedness planning, protection and restoration of the Tampa Bay estuary, economic analysis, coastal zone management, housing and infrastructure analysis, hurricane evacuation and recovery planning, development of regional impact review, local government comprehensive plan reviews, cross acceptance, dispute resolution and reviews of transportation plans.