University area community development is a growing trend in the Tampa Bay area. “Outdoor hours” is how they are usually described. Outside of the university the term “outdoor” is used to describe all times of the day, which includes evening hours, late night hours, and weekends. “Outdoor” is the way Tampa residents prefer to describe their evenings out on the town. “Outdoor living” refers to the stylish cafes, trendy restaurants, and bustling bars that can be found not only in Tampa but in throughout the Tampa Bay area as well.
University of Tampa, one of the largest universities in the Tampa Bay area, has been one of the driving forces behind the community development. In fact the University has been a large part of the growth in this area. The University has worked diligently to attract students and families who want to become involved with academic excellence and research. In September the University announced a new initiative in Tampa, the University Areas Sustainable Business Investment Program, or UASBIP. This plan will implement strategies to attract investment from private, business, and civic groups to support economic and social activities in the Tampa Bay areas. University President Robert J.supenour outlined these goals and objectives for the Tampa/St. Petersburg area in his September 14th address to the board of trustees at the university.
“Outdoor living is what we are all trying to become: active citizens,” Mr. Supenour said. The economic and social impact of such involvement cannot be ignored. “The impact goes beyond this campus,” he added. “This is at-risk space waiting to turn around.” The University has long been a leader in education and research. The Tampa school is also one of the largest employers in the State of Florida.
“We cannot wait for someone else to make a difference,” Mr. Supenour said. “We have to do it ourselves.” He mentioned several events and partnerships that have been developed over the past year, such as connecting Tampa residents with youth and community-based organizations, supporting small businesses, and helping at-risk students and families get high school diplomas. The University Areas Sustainable Business Investment Program is now focused on providing leadership development, technical assistance, and financing for start-up companies. In the coming months, the University Areas Resource Center will begin expanding its service to businesses, government entities, and civic groups in the Tampa area.
“The end result will be that we have more businesses and better jobs in the Tampa area,” says Karen Bond, executive director of the University Areas Resource Center. “The more people who are economically disadvantaged and socially isolated, the more problems we have to face with cancer centers.” She notes that there are still unanswered questions about the effect of mixed-use developments on the health of those who live there. “But we do know that it will create jobs,” she says. And Ms. Bowen says the Center for Neighborhood Development hopes to become a hub for investment and activity around the county’s six communities: the Isle of Palms, Tarpon Springs, Southshore, Channelside, Norcross, and Sandals.
Many areas of the Tampa Bay area have experienced rapid growth in recent years. In some cases, this has been fueled by an influx of younger professionals from other nearby cities, such as Florida, who have sought the job opportunities and haven’t settled down yet. In other cases, the population has been shifting, especially in the booming southern part of the area, where former white-collar workers are replacing blue-collar jobs. In both of these situations, new residents have been drawn to the area as they seek better employment, higher incomes, and a diverse cultural mix. The University area and its close-in neighbors embody all of this and more.
The University area has also benefited from a consistent mix of residential, commercial, and recreational uses that have helped to keep it viable as a mixed-use community. The University has a rich history and an academic culture that draw students from across the country. The area surrounding the campus is home to shops, restaurants, and other establishments frequented by visiting professors and faculty members. It also boasts a popular nightlife with popular venues such as the Florida State University performing arts center and the Tampa Opera House.
Tampa Bay already has a well-developed downtown scene. Now the University area is hoping for a similarly successful mix of retail, restaurant, and other mixed-use activities. The successful efforts by the Tampa Bay Design Council and Creative Resources Institute helped to attract the entertainment venues. These venues will play an important role as the city and the University continue to work on attracting the type of people who will make the area a magnet for live, work and study.