Fortifying Tampa

First the good news.

By all accounts, the sale and ultimate reincarnation of the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in West Tampa is proceeding, although hardly apace. It’s the nature of government property and attendant bureaucratic hoops. But it looks like the Heritage Square at the Armory group is on target to develop a project that would include a hotel, day spa, cafes, restaurants, boutiques and more.

The bad news is that this is the first choice for redevelopment. The back-up project is that of the Armory Partners Group of Tampa, who would build a video, film and sound studio and develop creative arts businesses. It would also include retail, a grocery store and apartments.

Tampa, ever mindful of the need to continually diversify its economy, is on the cinematic cusp of developing a more reliable and viable film industry. Lack of a studio complex, however, has long been a major governor on progress. The 522 N. Howard Ave. Armory property is centrally located and, at 10 acres, more than big enough to accommodate such a complex, as well as synergistic, arts-related businesses.

And in a quintessential working class neighborhood, a grocery store and affordable housing makes much more sense than a hotel, day spa and boutiques.

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