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Tower Plan Concerns Residents Of Channel District


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32-Story Tower Plan Concerns Residents Of Channel District


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CHANNEL DISTRICT - More residential towers may be coming to the Channel District, but Genie White, president of the Channel District Community Association, isn't happy about the tall buildings.

White thinks the former warehouse area is better suited for midrise buildings, making the area pedestrian friendly. ``I'd like to see 10 or 12 stories at the highest,'' she said.

Another developer is about to face a challenge from the neighborhood, where there is a 60-foot height restriction.

The Place of Channelside Phase II is proposing a 32-story high-rise at Washington Street and Channelside Drive, which would need zoning approval by the city council.

``The sad part is there are more developers waiting in the wings to also come in with tall buildings,'' White said.

In the past, residents opposed The Towers of Channelside, a pair of 30-story condominium towers at Meridian Avenue and North 12th Street. But the city agreed to rezone the property in January 2004, and the complex is under construction.

White said that if it appears residents are going to lose the battle with The Place, she would recommend that developer Fida Sirdar contribute to the neighborhood to buy green space for a park.

Sirdar hasn't returned telephone calls from The Tampa Tribune.

A zoning hearing for The Place is expected to be scheduled for late April.

Meanwhile, Channel District residents are trying to figure out how to make sure developers keep promises to include galleries and artists' work spaces in their projects.

Sirdar said earlier that The Place, 918 Channelside Drive, two terraced buildings rising five and eight stories, would have artist work space, as well as galleries along 12th Street.

Stageworks Theater Company plans to use 4,500 square feet donated by Ken Stolenberg, a developer planning Grand Central at Kennedy, at Kennedy Boulevard and Channelside Drive.

Roger Gatewood, whose 360-unit condominium Seaboard Square will take up almost four blocks, plans gallery space, as well.

Gatewood said he researched other cities from Palo Alto, Calif., to Paris, where foundations are set up for developers and property owners to donate units to artists for lower rent.

``It could be a one- or two- year rotation of using the space,'' he said.

With rules in place, Gatewood said the Channel District would be assured of keeping its artist colony background.

``We would require portfolios and bios,'' said White, who owns Artists Unlimited, 223 N. 12th St., a co-op since 1996 where about 40 artists lease space.

``We need to sit down more and define what studios are, too,'' said White, a painter and sculptor. ``We want to include performing arts, as well as visual artists.''

White said she also would like to maintain an educational element at the street-front studios, such as what exists at Artists Unlimited.

Reporter Janis D. Froelich can be reached at (813) 259-7143.

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