State of the City

Another year, another State-of-the-City report and accompanying DVD, and another reminder that this mayor has a lot to juggle. From making a dent in chronic neighborhood needs, such as drainage, to helping shape downtown’s future — as in a destination for visitors and a home for thousands of urban-core residents.

“Downtown is everybody’s neighborhood,” reminded Pam Iorio at her annual progress-report presentation. It’s part of her mayoral mantra.

And while she can — and does – cite, for example, improvements in East Tampa, an impressive dip in citywide crime and significant movement toward re-development of Central Park Village, there’s little doubt that downtown is where her legacy will be built – literally. The “downtown core,” once dormant, now features some 2,500 residential units built or under construction.

But her City Hall touch is all over the riverfront location for the new art museum as well as the 2.4-mile Tampa Riverwalk project now underway. These are public-private partnerships that will ask locals to dig deep and require Iorio to proselytize and educate.

And while Tampa’s downtown – most notably what’s along the river — is “everybody’s neighborhood,” it can be argued that not “everybody” gets it. Especially those whose perspectives — or agendas — are more county-centric.

“These messages take years,” acknowledged Iorio. “When people are able to access these amenities, then it will be easier to get them back downtown. Our job is to make it more attractive, more accessible and help with parking and signage and adding more two-way streets.

“I would hope that one day we could see folks from Odessa and Riverview coming into downtown as if they worked here,” Iorio adds. “This is a long-term message, one that has to be backed up by tangible improvements.”

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