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'Like Main Street Disney'


ChiTownBull

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http://northeast2.tbo.com/content/2008/aug/20/ne-like-main-street-disney/

By LENORA LAKE

Tribune correspondent

Published: August 20, 2008

UNIVERSITY AREA - State Sen. Victor Crist sees a change coming to the University Area as North 22nd Street is widened and residential and commercial buildings are constructed.

"It should look like Main Street Disney or Main Street Dunedin" by 2011 or 2012, Crist recently told a group of senior citizens.

Crist, R-Tampa, who serves as chairman of the University Area Development Corp., and University Mall General Manager Tom Locke participated in an Aug. 8 community development update program at the University Village retirement community.

"What we are creating is a live-work environment," he told about 100 residents gathered for the program.

Crist gave a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation and lecture reviewing changes to the community west of the University of South Florida since the university opened in 1956. USF and the surrounding area offered limited housing at that point.

Apartments, duplexes and group homes for students were built, but many fell into receivership in the 1980s because of tax law changes. Absentee landlords let many apartments deteriorate, and students moved away, he said. Crime increased in the densely populated, low-income area.

In 1989, the U.S.F. Area Community Civic Association was formed, and community leaders emerged to seek improvements to the community.

"In 1990, it was branded Suitcase City. We needed a word to describe the blight," he said.

Crist praised the University Village residents for their participation in helping get the area attention from public officials.

"We've always looked at University Village as one of the regiments in our army," he said, adding that many rode buses to support efforts to secure financial support from the Hillsborough County commissioners.

Federal, state and local money has flowed to the area since the early 1990s, creating a community center, schools, a health center, a social services center, a sheriff's office district headquarters and a park.

The University Area Community Development Corp. was created to raise funds and manage the community center. It now will begin offering housing as a revenue-generating venture.

"We want to be sure the things we put in place are funded," Crist said. "This is not a pie-in-the-sky thing. Twenty years ago, 10 years ago, people said, 'Yeah, sure.'"

The next phase of development, from 2009 to 2012, will include a public library, senior citizens center, mixed-use developments and a new headquarters for the development corporation, he said.

Widening of 22nd Street is under way, and it will include bus bays, green space, improved lighting and underground utilities.

Some University Village residents said they hoped it also would include a senior zone, where speed limits are lowered.

Tim Parker, executive director of University Village, said the retirement community has applied for such a designation.

Resident Bobbie Holloway asked about getting help controlling noise outside the complex.

"We have been woken up with three or four cars blasting" music and their horns, she said.

Crist said a noise ordinance is in place, that "It is a policing issue" and that problems on-site or on the neighboring mall property can be addressed by those security agencies. Off-site, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office should be notified.

"If there is a problem with the response, we can intervene," Crist said.

Correspondent Lenora Lake can be reached at (813) 865-4851 or

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That's awesome.  The area around USF can get... Well, I'll go with pretty bad.  It's nice to see they are still continuing to clean up the area. 

I think COPS has been filmed near campus several times.... Not a good sign.

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Glad to see that Crist is continuously working to clean the area up. "Main Street Disney" seems a bit overstated...but any progress can only help.

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I'm really looking forward to the new senior citizens center.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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I'm really looking forward to the new senior citizens center.

I'm not...

lol

What ever happened to the "light rail" project that they were working on?

Just wondering.

GO BULLS!!!

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Senior citizens should not live near a college campus.

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Senior citizens should not live near a college campus.

Seniors should be the least of your concerns around USF campus.

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