November 23 2011

Transforming a Historical District With Transit-Oriented Development: Tampa, Florida

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is the development of mixed-used development to optimize access and use of public transit. Transit stops serve as the center of the neighborhood. The concentration of shops and restaurants are highest around the center and gradually decline further away. TOD maximizes public transit use by making it easier for riders to walk to their destination. The ideal radius for TOD is ½ of a mile away from the transit stop, allowing for optimal walking distances.

TECO Rail in Ybor City & Downtown Tampa, Florida

TODs can be found in many major cities, such as Arlington, Virginia and Vancouver, British Columbia. Tampa, Florida has one example of TOD, located in the Ybor City district. Ybor City was originally a Cuban neighborhood in Tampa and is famous for its cigar factories. Now the area serves as a nightlife destination and has a large selection of clubs, bars, restaurants, and shopping. Ybor City has a streetcar line that runs through the neighborhood and surrounding areas. This streetcar line allows Ybor City to build TOD nodes, which are helping to revitalize the area.

One of the main trolley stops in Ybor City is located on 8th Avenue. This stop serves as a TOD node for the area as it is located right in the center of the Ybor City commerce district. The main attraction for this stop is Centro Ybor, a shopping and entertainment venue. Within a half-mile of this complex lies many other attractions for Ybor City; Hillsborough Community College, and two condominium complexes. The Muvico Center in Ybor Citystreetcar has stops in surrounding neighborhoods, allowing more people to access this entertainment area easily.

Before this streetcar line was built, Ybor City was suffering from blight and degradation. This feature allowed the historical district to rebuild and gain a better reputation to Tampa residents. Along with the streetcar line, Ybor City also saw new landscape design and architectural use of historical and modern designs. The streetcar route will eventually take into account environmental sustainability as well.

Urban planners have found a way to revitalize an area through the use or transit and TOD in Tampa. Do you think TOD is a viable alternative to create more walkable areas? Can TOD create more vitality in deteriorating historical districts?

How can this work in other urban areas?

Credits: Images linked to sources.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas is a graduate student studying Urban and Regional Planning and Business Administration - Information Systems at the University of South Florida. She became interested in urban issues as an undergraduate student, and developed a focus on urban issues in the Tampa Bay area after serving as an intern for a light rail campaign in 2010. She currently works at the Tampa Bay Partnership, a public-private economic development company. She has credited her time with Global Site Plans as one of the reasons behind her employment there.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 at 6:47 pm and is filed under Architecture, Environment, History/Preservation, Infrastructure, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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