TAMPA, Fl (WFLA) – City planner Jeff Speck’s vision for Tampa’s downtown involves cooler temperatures and more walking. Speck is the lead planner overseeing the team working with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and an engineering firm Stantec to redevelop land in the Channelside area.
“If all goes as planned, in 10 years this will be completely transformed,” Speck told News Channel 8. Signs of change will happen even sooner, with the first phase set to be completed in five or six years, he said.
Speck’s vision for the area includes making the city more walkable based on the premise that it has to be “simultaneously useful, safe, comfortable and interesting,” he said. “If it’s not all four of those things, people won’t walk.”
Speck’s prescription for achieving that includes adding parallel parking along the road to make walkers feel more protected than they do now. “When a car passes you on the sidewalk, you lack that barrier of steel that makes you feel safe and actually protects you from vehicles coming at you,” he said.
Speck also said plans call for creating “continuous deep shade” in the Florida heat. “Every building will likely have either an awning or arcade or something that shadows the sidewalk,” he said. Plans for the area involve adding retail and other destinations to the mix, but Speck said the biggest difference in the future may be “the number of people on the sidewalks.”