Thursday, August 30, 2007

Neighborhood Solicitator

An email that was sent to a neighborhood watch coordinator:

"Just wanted to give you a heads up about the latest neighborhood solicitor. XXX just had a guy (w/m) come to the door offering "air quality testing". He told her he needed to come in to do a demo (uh, no). He also asked her if she lived alone and some other random, unnecessary questions. He was driving a green mini-van that was parked a few houses away so she couldn't get the tag. After he left our house he went straight to the van and left so she's not sure if he hit any other houses on our street before us. She's also not sure if anyone else was in the van. Just wanted to give you all a heads up. Who hits up houses at 3 in the afternoon on a Wednesday....hhhhmmmm.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another Op - On the Market

Thankfully, this place is up for sale. Yet another place within (southeast) S.H. for a revitalization op.

1317 E Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, FL 33604

Property Description: A perfect opportunity to own a large building in one of the areas that has been experiencing a rejuvenation for several years now! When Starbucks moved in a few blocks away, you can bet that the market is strong and viable in the neighborhood!

Built in 1990, this CB building has a metal roof and four oversized electric doors!$100,000 BELOW APPRAISED VALUE! BUSINESS NOT FOR SALE - ONLY BUILDING AND LAND!

Location Description:200' Frontage on Hillsborough Ave, few blocks from I -275!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

2-Way Debate Reopens On 1-Way Streets

I'm thankful at least one of the council members has a little common sense on this subject and the study. Thank you Mary Mulhern.


A state report last month rejected proposals to turn Armenia Avenue, Howard Avenue, Tampa Street and Florida Avenue into two-way streets.

That should have the ended conversation, and for a while it seemed that way. Now, Tampa Councilwoman Mary Mulhern is restarting the dialogue.

"The report failed to weigh the problems these one-way streets are causing. Keeping the streets one-way ensures they function as commuter routes to get motorists in and out of downtown, and to Interstate 275, as quickly as possible. That divides the neighborhoods and disrupts economic development," she said.


Sounds a lot like comments from our blog contributors, huh? I'd like to think our comments were at least considered in this new movement.

Sports Bar & Grill - Greg Smith

I've finally seen some movement on Greg's grub & pub venture (to be located just north of Hillsborough Ave. on Nebraska Ave.). There is a public notice posted for a hearing to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages of more more than 1%.

Pretty essential for a pub, I'd say.

I did not see the date of the hearing.

Good luck Greg. I hope the same community support for you at city council as seen by Cappy's and Starbuck's.

On another note, Ella's eclectic bistro, which was set for a ground breaking last May, visually has made no progress; while the Bungalow Bistro now had tables and chairs inside the building , along with window treatments.

Good things to come ...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday morning coming down

"Well I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn't hurt /and the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad so I had one more for dessert" Mr. Cash

Not really, but it seems a good way to start out a Sunday morning story.

Sunday morning; the closest thing to a day off that I get theses days. A chance to sleep past 6am, an opportunity to see the outside world for a few hours. I like Sunday mornings. What started out as running a few errands turned into a tour of the old and new while travelling the length of the Heights on Nebraska - with musical accompaniment.

"...and to the confusion of our enemies" Riverboat Gamblers

First stop of the morning was to do some pet sitting for a friend that's out of town. Mission accomplished, I found myself at the corner of North Bay and Nebraska looking across the street at what could be a man tarted up for business, or could be a woman in normal clothes not wanting to sit next to the creepy guy at the bus bench 20 feet away. I guess I spent a little too long studying on the question, because the evil glare that I received from across the street belied that fact that the truth of the situation was the former. It's been quite some time since I've seen a tranny working in daylight on Nebraska.

"They picked me up off the street/ they said 'hey get off my beat'/ they spread out all my things on top of their car/ identified, detained and inspected/ that paints the picture clear... " Low and Sweet Orchestra

Time for breakfast, we headed towards the new, improved 3 Coins. Passing the rim store next to Publix, two of Tampa's finest were cuffing up a man. What he did, I'll probably never know, but I had a flashback to the 80's and being stopped a few times in the same area for WWP - walking while poor. Not that there couldn't be a more noble reason for him being detained, the memory just popped into my head.

"eggs and sausage and a side of toast coffee and a roll/ hash browns over easy
chile in a bowl /with burgers and fries / what kind of pie?" Tom Waits

3 Coins. I'd given up on this place years ago, except for when I'd get a hankering for some SOS and eggs - which isn't that often. Inspired by Rick's post, we decided to give the new, improved version a try.
We weren't dissapointed. I like the new place. It's clean, the service is attentive and friendly, and the food is remarkably good when taken in context. Sure I'm a chef, sure I can do great things with foie gras, but there is a time and a place for everything, something that my contemporaries often forget. I'm the kind of person that has to try quite a few things when first trying out a place. So with a table covered with french toast (light, crisp, flavorful), biscuits and gravy (great biscuit, flavorful sausage gravy without a trace of uncooked flour taste), a Southwest breakfast wrap (the closest thing that I've found in spirit, if not execution, to a TexMex breakfast taco since leaving Austin), some nicely seasoned, crisp home fries, and various breakfast meats I couldn't find a thing that I didn't like. Only impending middle age and an eye on my cholesterol stopped me from eating everything on the table and licking the plates.
The kitchen was weeded when we sat down, so food wasn't exactly flying out, but the wait staff kept us informed and our drinks filled while we waited. I think I've had about six cups of coffee because of the wait, but I didn't mind waiting. Then, the dam broke and food just started flying all over the restaurant. The poor servers went from trying to keep people happy to trying to keep up with all of the food, but they did it with grace and great attitudes.
My hat is off to Moe and something new in the Heights.

Quasi day off over. It was good to get out for a while.

"what do you do with a life of work?" Iggy Pop

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Restaurant Hours May Curb "Oldest Profession"

With the advent of Three Coins (corner of Broad and Nebraska) going 24 hours there is most likely going to be an unplanned benefit to Seminole Heights. It seems that since we have the only 24 hour restaurant in central Tampa, it is fast becoming a late night spot for TPD officers for breaks when working the late nights. Good news for residents of the northern half of Seminole Heights. With added police traffic stopping in for their dinner breaks, those engaged in what has been termed the "oldest Profession" may just have no choice but to find new haunts. The "johns" and "tricks" may not feel too comfortable with the nearly constant presence of police cruisers on Nebraska Ave.

Another great reason to support and promote the success of this venture by the owner of Three Coins. He is definitely eager to be a good business neighbor and to get involved in the community. It is great to see this trend growing among neighborhood "brick and mortar" establishments.

It will be even better when the planned restaurant/sports bar starts to come out of the ground at North and Nebraska. A few more positive like this and those working the streets in that oldest of professions may become as rare on Nebraska as they now are on Kennedy Blvd.

So if you stop in Three just might want to thank Moe for making it a 24 hour establishment!

Fresh water for the river

While all signs would point to the logical conclusion to the contrary, ie; gutting of the county wetlands division, the threat of a dump on 22nd, etc - the City, Swiftmud, and Friends of the River have actually come to an agreement about the lower Hillsborough River. The agreement ensures a minimum, continuous fresh water flow to the river below the dam. The fresh water will help to recharge the mostly dead estuary of the lower river.

I have to say that I'm pleasantly shocked at this act of placing environmental sensitivity over the desires of developers needing more fresh water for the acres of growing sprawl.

Link to the Tribune story:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Park's Budget

It is budget season folks. We have heard about all the cuts the City of Tampa (aka Mayor Pam) proposing. Last years budget after the small milage reduction was 725 million dollars. The proposed budget for the new fiscal year is 761 million dollars. That is a better than 4.5% increase. Which by the way is more than the inflation rate or the average employee's raise. So why if the budget is growing and all these staff positions were eliminated is the Parks Department taking a 4.5 million dollar cut out of its 38 million dollar budget. That is a better than 10% cut.

Do the math. Asked the questions. The budget hearings are set for Sept. 4th at 5:00pm.

And they keep on writing themselves.......

I'm sure that everyone received their personal letter from Rob Turner this week. I got mine, too.

Mr. Turner personally(I'm quite sure) let me know that the possible passing of a property tax bill will save me money...blah blah blah --it's from a Florida politician, my attention span is only so great when it comes to the fertilizer that usually gets spread in such a manner.

I bought my house in early 2006 and thought that I'd dodged the bullet on ridiculous taxes when I got my bill last year. Well, fool me 8 times shame on me.  Yup, my taxes went up roughly 50% this year. But the REALLY GOOD NEWS is that I could potentially get tax relief in the amount of $41.36. It's too good to be true!!!! Raise my taxes by roughly $800 but cut them by $41.36? Thanks, you're too kind. Just be sure that my $41.36 in savings is taken out of infrastructure repairs, 
parks and recreation and, oh yeah, can I please be billed for emergency services when I need them? kay, thanks

How much "relief" are you folks seeing and where do you hope it gets cut from?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

For Sale By Owner - 1 Dog Track - River View

So the Tampa Greyhound Dog Track is going to quit operations, according to the Tribune.

Anyone interested?

The assessed value is $3,860,680. The current owners do not have a homestead exemptions.

The Clubhouse has three connected buildings.

Building 1 has 107,520 heated square feet. It is 3 stories tall. The exterior walls are precast panel, interior walls are masonry, the roofing structure is steel frame or truss covered with built up tar & gravel. The floors are vinyl or carpeted. Central heat and air.

Building Two has 10,603 heated square feet. It is 2 stories tall. The exterior walls are brick, interior walls are masonry and drywall, the roofing structure is steel frame or truss covered with built up tar & gravel. The floors are vinyl or carpeted, Central heat and air.

Building Three has 43,092 heated square feet. It is 3 stories tall. The exterior walls are brick and concrete block, interior walls are masonry, the roofing structure is steel frame or truss covered with built up tar & gravel. The floors are vinyl or carpeted, Central heat and air.

There is a warehouse/storage building that has 2,553 heated square feet and 3,618 overall square and a second one with 1,260 heated square feet.

Finally there is an auto service/ garage with 1,782 heated square feet.

Last years taxes were $98,433.68. However the asessed value went down last year from $4,199,926 to $3,860,680 so the new taxes will be $82,895.75.

Additionally there is additional parking across the street, abutting the Sulphur Springs Park that the owner also has. This land (without the office tower which is owned by a church) is valued at $2,704,928. The garage comes with the land.

This would be a great party house. Plenty of parking for hundreds of your friends. You could jog in the morning on your own personal running track and never be disturbed by your neighbors dogs. Plenty of bathrooms. Big backyard to walk your dogs in. Easy access to the Interstate.

Randy Baron's New Role

I actually like Randy a lot; although from past posts I've seen a mixed review. I do think, however, most of us agree that he is passionate about Seminole Heights and looks out for the overall best interest of the neighborhood.

That said, according to the story below, Randy (already president of OSHNA) is now serving an additional role as VP of Tampa Homeowners Association (TPA).

Knowing Randy is an avid reader of this blog, I have the following questions for him:

1) What duties will he perform in his newest role?
2) Does the TPA benefit S.H.; and if so, how?
3) What can we do, as a neighborhood, to utilize the power of TPA to assist in our area's continued revitalization?

Neighborhoods Group Selects Leaders
Published: August 15, 2007

TAMPA - The umbrella group over the city's neighborhoods has a new leader.
Wofford Johnson, former president of the Sunset Park Area Homeowners Association, was elected president of Tampa Homeowners, an Association of Neighborhoods, this month.
Johnson, who has lived in Tampa since 1955 with his wife, Ann, has also previously served as vice president and treasurer for the association.

Also elected were Randy Baron, vice president; Fred Zerla, secretary; and Bill Duval, treasurer.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Boarding House Operator Out Of Jail

So the City and State are investigating another boarding house with illegal operations.
Boarding House Operator Out Of Jail

"A woman accused of running an overcrowded boarding house for 18 people lives in a sprawling estate along the Hillsborough River valued at more than $500,000.

"The Department of Children and Families closed the Beach Street home to tenants on Thursday because of improper supervision, environmental hazards such as the lack of air conditioning, medical neglect and fire code violations."

Based on our experiences in Seminole Heights with an illegal boarding house how long do you think it will remain closed?

Something New In Store For Hutto's Corner

This location is literally just across the MLK boundary of Seminole Heights southwest corner. The property sits on the southeast corner of Boulevard and MLK.

It's nice they are actually doing something with the property, but I question their clientele goals of a "hair salon, phone company ... and liquor store." Not exactly high aspirations. I understand that he needs to lease places out to be profitable; but I'm all for at least aiming a little higher than a "Beepers and Phones."

The owner of the new plaza owns the Citgo across the street from it (southwest corner of intersection).

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sometimes they just write themselves

I've been wondering what to do with my new-found posting powers; home improvement, social woes, what did I eat last night, whatever. Funny how once one has the ability to voice one's opinon, you find yourself drawing a blank.
But looking through the Trib today I found a very interesting article about how the City Council has generously foregone a cost of living pay increase in light of the budget crisis from our enormous tax breaks.

Several council members said they have no problem going without the annual increase because they realize nearly every city department has had to make sacrifices.
Council members make $40,250 annually for what is considered a part-time job.
Sounds generous and righteous, right? Wait, it gets better:

A 31 percent pay raise approved in 2005 boosted the council members' salaries from about $31,000 to $40,250. Although approved two years ago, the increase didn't take effect until April.

Also in April, the mayor's salary increased from $135,000 to $150,000. Her salary can now increase by the same across-the-board increase given to other managers but cannot exceed 3 percent.

Well then, who needs 3% when you've just received 31% for a part time job? Thanks guys, you're too kind.

Link to the aritcle:

Now for some self-serving linkage:

Two-faced Tampa

In a prior conversation, a little research showed quite a change of opinions between babied traffic projects for downtown vs. ignored projects for the "Heights" areas.

Twiggs Street Project — Second Downtown Two-Way Street Conversion Completed
"Spanning from Ashley Drive to Morgan Street, this is the second east/west street in the downtown area being converted from a one-way to a two-way configuration. The project will improve the overall efficiency of the circulation of traffic downtown and create a more pedestrian friendly environment."


No 2 Ways About It - (Tampa and Seminole Heights)
"The department study says converting the roads to two-way traffic will cause lengthy backups at intersections and increase the number of accidents from cars making left turns across traffic."

Politics and flip-flopping to get what they want. In Tampa? What a surprise.

And I love how we are put second to finances:
"Doing the project right would mean doubling the width of the roads and force the department to buy rights of way from residents and businesses."

Yeah -- why would you ever want to do the project right when it's north of downtown Tampa; instead of west or south? Very transparent. Very sad ......

Thursday, August 02, 2007

No 2 Ways About It

I haven't heard any mention of this on the blog, but I'm assuming we've all heard about it by now.

Sad that, as usual, the costs seem more important than the neighborhoods and their people. The story also mentions studying the conversion of all four roads. How about studying the two sets separately?

Lastly, I partially understand at least their arguement (not necessarily their findings), but still find it ironic that a city putting so much focus on bringing people to downtown (i.e., Riverwalk) is so set on being sure those people can drive out of downtown as fast on the residential roads as they can the Interstate the roads p-a-r-a-l-l-e-l.

TAMPA - Citing cost and traffic concerns, state transportation officials are rejecting neighborhood requests to convert busy Armenia Avenue, Howard Avenue, Tampa Street and Florida Avenue into two-way routes.

Skip directly to the full story. By RICH SHOPES. The Tampa TribunePublished: Jul 28, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Super Homestead Exemption Calculator

The Hillsborough County Property Appraiser site now has a calculator for the proposed "Super Exemption"to be on the ballot during January presidential primary. It gives a dramatic graph of the reductions in taxable values. However, there is in this writer's opinion a built in bias to keep the status quo. The default on the Property Appraiser's calculator assumes a 7% appreciation in values. Historic norms are more like 3% maybe 4%. The difference is significant when it comes to deciding which is better in the long term. The default setting at 7% negates the super exemption savings in less than 5 years. At the more likely historic norm of 3% appreciation, it would take 15 years to negate the super exemption savings.

Run it on your own property and see the result for yourself using the default 7% and a more realistic 3%.

Ybor Pizza Re-Opens Today, Wed., 8/1/07.

Just an FYI.