Tampa State of the City address today - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa State of the City address today

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

For years the historic Kress building in downtown Tampa has been shuttered behind plywood over the large storefront windows.

Although the building is across from the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse, it's been vacant for years, the only occupants have been rodents, birds and an occasional vagrant.

Tuesday, the buildings owners opened it up for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Buckhorn chose the building to deliver his annual state of the city address and to point out the types of structures that are ready for redevelopment in downtown Tampa.

As he opened his remarks Buckhorn smiled and said, " How many of you walked into this building today and the first thing that you did was stand there and look in awe at what this could be."

Inside, the paint is pealing, electric lines had to be run on the outside of walls for emergency lighting and temporary ducts had to be installed for heating. Still, under a layer of dirt, the craftsmanship of years ago can still be seen.

Buckhorn sees nothing but potential here and in other opportunities downtown, " Our opportunities and our potential are in one word; infinite.", says Buckhorn.

Across the street at the Duckweed Urban Market, Derek Grimsley was happy the mayor chose the Kress building to deliver his remarks. Grimsley says, " It's exactly what downtown Tampa has been needing for a while and I'm so glad it came up. We're working right across from historic art deco buildings, they're beautiful and they've just been sitting there waiting, really for something or someone to come in a fill them."

In college, Grimsley studied historic preservation in an art and design program. He now works at the market selling groceries, but like Buckhorn, Grimsley sees potential in downtown Tampa.

Grimsley says his market is doing so well, the owners have plans to expand.

That's exactly the kind of development Mayor Buckhorn is hoping for. " We can be a city who's urban corps extends from Ybor City to Westshore, where the Hillsborough River is the center of our downtown. We can be the economic engine that leads Florida out of this recession.", says Buckhorn.

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