New and slick and shiny objects are attractive in their gloss, but need time to develop depth and spirit. This is true for places as well as people. Much of Florida is too newly minted to have this patina, so if we value character, we need to stop demolishing and paving over our older neighborhoods.
West Tampa is one such neighborhood, rich in texture and history. But development pressures are squeezing it. Trees have been uprooted to make room for townhomes designed with little regard for the character of the neighborhood’s signature casitas. The rhythm of the street has been disrupted by garages and a pervasive shade of beige.
Hamilton Jones has been a preservation hero for his careful restoration of the Palace of Florence on Davis Islands as well as buildings throughout south Tampa. Fortunately, he has taken up the challenge of restoring MacFarlane’s original law office building on Howard Avenue.
Jones got a boost from his Community Redevelopment Agency’s restorations fund. West Tampa’s CRA has nearly-$20 million in its coffers. That money could go a long way toward improving the alleys, planting trees, low-cost loans to individual property owners for maintaining their historic facades and eventually creating a community cultural center in the Centro Espanol.