Big Task: Big Idea

There’s no denying that Ed Turanchik thinks big. And you know what? Somebody has to.

Tampa’s urban innards — the part between downtown and Ybor City — doesn’t need a makeover. It needs a start over. What it needs is of a scale that can’t be provided by a housing authority, federal grants notwithstanding. What the Central Park Village area needs is more than an islet of nicer, subsidized housing in a sea of economic disadvantage and neglect.

It needs 157 acres worth of massive investment that can only emanate from the private sector.

Turanchik’s company, Civitas, has stepped up publicly after having quietly acquired control or options on hundreds of lots. It proposes a mix of residential — both “market rate” and “affordable” — and retail development. A factory for manufactured housing and expanded public park areas are also part of the plan.

Civitas is backed by prominent investors such as Lazydays RV SuperCenter owner Don Wallace and Westchase developer Bill Bishop. Vince Naimoli could use pockets like that.

Civitas needs the cooperation of the housing authority and approval from the city for a master-planned community. The ultra-ambitious plan involves scenarios dependent on a community redevelopment area, tax-increment financing and tax credits.

Questions yet remain; details beg scrutiny.

But this much is evident. A project of this magnitude can only be pulled off by those who think big, dream big and ask “why not?” It cannot be accomplished by the public sector, self-appointed empowerment advocates and the usual naysaying suspects.

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