Tampa City Council will hear options for reversing approval of Hanna Avenue ‘City Center’ project – Creative Loafing Tampa

Posted By on February 28, 2022

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The site for the proposed "City Center at Hanna Ave" project at 2515 E Hanna Ave in Seminole Heights East.

The center is currently being built on an 11-acre lot at 2515 E Hanna Ave. in Seminole Heights East, and is supposed to host hundreds of City of Tampa workers once it's completed.

But the project has raised the concerns of construction experts, lawyers, local trade unions and leaders from the African American community, mainly due to the nature of the city's bidding process for the project.

In 2021, the city handed DPR Construction the massive contract directly. The company was first hired by the city in 2015 for a much smaller project costing roughly $6.2 million. Last year, the city awarded an extra $102 million to DPR to construct the full-blown city center project, without a public Requests for Proposals (RFP) process.

Now, council members want answers from the City of Tampa staff and legal team.Some councilmen want to find out if council can reverse their vote from last November to approve the project. The Tampa Bay Times reported that city council was "persuaded by Mayor Jane Castors administration" that the cost of the project was worth it at last year's meeting, and voted unanimously to approve it.Councilman Bill Carlson made the motion to bring these new questions to light at Thursday's meeting.

"If you look at my motion, I try to be clear that it's not the fault of the people who won the contract," Carlson told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. "It's the fault of the city contract administration department, they broke all the rules."

Carlson went on to say that Mayor Castor's administration needs to address these problems.

"The mayor needs to clean out this department and bring in new people and new processes, because this shouldn't happen," Carlson said. "It's a misuse of authority that's been happening since Buckhorn was mayor, but this administrations needs to end it."

The city's Communication Director Adam Smith told CL he was checking for any official comment from the administration; City Attorney Gina Grimes have not responded to request for comment about the situation, this post will be updated if a response comes in.

"I have no doubt this is the biggest project in the city's history, and we need to make sure we're doing it right."

Dingfelder wants to hear about whether or not the city is planning on addressing the issues of the Black community and local trade unions being involved in the project.

"I have seen some good responses from from the mayor and the administration in regard to making sure that the contractor hits a goal for minority participation," Dingfelder told CL. "And I think they're bringing on an additional contractor, to make sure that the general contractor [DPR] is doing everything they promised they would do."

Both Dingfelder and Carlson were hopeful that the city would be able to address their concerns during Thursday's meeting. Dingfelder highlighted the project's massive scope, and the importance of following proper procedure to get it done.

"I have no doubt this is the biggest project in the city's history, and we need to make sure we're doing it right," he said.

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Tampa City Council will hear options for reversing approval of Hanna Avenue 'City Center' project - Creative Loafing Tampa

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