The Planning Commission is proud to announce the winners of our 33rd Annual Planning & Design Awards presented by Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas. The event was held on October 29th at T Pepin’s Hospitality Centre. As the American Planning Association celebrated Community Planning Month and Great Places in America in October, we are proud to honor the very best in planning and design in our own region.
Awards of Merit, Excellence, and Outstanding Contribution to our Community as selected by our judges were presented by ABC Action News Anchor,Brendan McLaughlin. Photographs of the event and award winners can be viewed on our facebook.
A Review of all Award Categories and Winners
- Category | Signature of Light Awards
- SunTrust Financial Centre
- University of Tampa
Following the Tampa Bay Times Reception, the evening began with introductions and Awards Program Chair, Planning Commissioner Stephanie Agliano announcing that next year a Lighting Category would be added to the Planning & Design Awards. ‘In light of this’ the Planning Commission and our presenting sponsor honored two very special icons always ‘lighting up’ our community. Laura Crouch, Director of Local Government, Community Relations & Economic Development for Tampa Electric & Peoples Gas, presented two Signature of Light Awards. “The Ziggarut Lighting atop the SunTrust Financial Centre stands out among lighting installations, welcoming visitors and heralding special events going on. And, the University of Tampa for the lighting of its Historic Minarets is Tampa’s most recognizable signature of light, beckoning the world to experience our rich heritage.”
- Le Meridien Tampa | Jan Abell Award - Category | Historic
- The Beck Group
- DSG, Inc.
In 2001, the Planning Commission created the Jan Abell Award for an Outstanding Contribution in the Historic Preservation Category. Jan Abell was a local, passionate preservationist who successfully saved some of Tampa’s and Florida’s important buildings.
Built in 1902, the old Tampa Federal Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Sitting empty since 1998 following the opening of the Sam Gibbons U.S. Courthouse just two blocks away, this historic building was renovated and re-openeded in June 2014 as a stunning luxury boutique hotel, Le Meridien Tampa. This $17 million dollar renovation preserved the exterior and still recognizable as the court house. Le Meridien Tampa now houses 130 guest suites, the 227 seat Bizou Brasserie restaurant, Longitude Bar, grand ballroom, an outdoor pool, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. To quote Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, “This took probably the most historically significant building downtown that had been abandoned, boarded up, and was leaking and full of mold, and turned it into something spectacular.”
The judges agreed, calling this building one of the anchors in Tampa’s history. They applauded this private investment in historically-true restoration of a piece of Tampa’s fabric interwoven with modern elements. We are certain Jan Abell would be proud.
- Aqua Apartments - Award of Outstanding
Contribution to our Community - Category | Housing
- Sage Partners
- Mesh Architecture
- Hennessy Construction
Aqua offers affordable housing to senior citizens on a limited income in a 197 unit high rise located on the Hillsborough River. The comprehensive renovation provides Aqua’s seniors with first class apartment homes and amenities without increasing their rent. All life safety and mechanical systems were replaced, and the building and grounds are now fully accessible.
Less than four miles from downtown Tampa, Aqua Apartments is also convenient to public transportation. The successful restoration and revitalization of the Aqua Apartments, required the participation of all stakeholders – the residents of Aqua, the Wellswood neighborhood, Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, Florida Housing Finance Corporation, and HUD. The result shows how preservation of affordable housing can transform a building into a vibrant community that seniors really do want to call home.
The judges found this to be a model project, serving a demographic routinely set aside. They praised the Aqua team for its compassion, providing minimal disruption allowing residents to stay within the building during the renovation of each unit. Previously facing demolition and a close-knit community of seniors without homes, Aqua Apartments now provides residents more than a beautiful, safe, modern home, it provides important connections with local students and participatory integration into their community.
- Franklin Street Better Block - Award of Outstanding
Contribution to our Community - Category | Participation
- Franklin Street Better Block Planning Committee
- Tampa Heights Civic Association
- CNU Tampa Bay
This grassroots project is dedicated to improving livability, walkability, and the economic sustainability of streets, one block at a time. Using the Better Block’s Principle of creating small scale, short-term improvements to encourage lasting change, the blocks were activated with local vendors and residents hosting pop-up storefronts, local brewery samples, street art, food, music, and parklets. This opportunity to visualize physical street improvements also allowed entrepreneurs to test the local market.
Franklin Street Better Block was the second of only two conducted in the state of Florida. The Tampa Heights Civic Association, Congress for New Urbanism (CNU), Emerge Tampa Bay, and local business owners and residents teamed up to bring Franklin Street back into the city’s focus. The project took place on a Saturday in January on Franklin Street between I-275 and Henderson Avenue. This project also received an Award of Excellence to the Florida Chapter of the American Planning at its recent conference.
The judges loved the originality and innovation in this tactical urbanism approach, allowing citizens and businesses to test business ideas and urban design concepts for themselves. Already, it has been a catalyst for change, breathing new life into the neighborhood with openings, renovations, and increased activities.
- Tampa International Airport LEAF Sustainable Management Plan - Award of Outstanding
Contribution to our Community - Category | Commercial
- Hillsborough County Aviation Authority
Tampa International Airport’s Sustainable Management Plan, also known as LEAF, is grounded in TIA’s responsibility to our people, our planet, and our collective prosperity. The Authority is committed to implementing the sustainability program in a manner that considers environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic vitality and will strive to leader this movement our in our community, our state, and beyond.
The Legacy of Environmental Actions for our Future program serves as a testament to the importance of community involvement in the planning process. Throughout program development an awareness of sustainability opportunities was catalyzed. This extensive collaboration included Authority staff, tenants, and the local community whose efforts resulted in the development of plan through interactive visioning sessions, online surveys, special presentations, social media interaction, and open house meetings. It is a very comprehensive plan identifying tasks, strategies and measures.
The judges were completely on board with what this project is doing for our region. They felt it is a ground-breaking blueprint for other airports around the country to integrate into their master plans and applauded the project from an economic development, investment, participation, and environmental perspective.
Awards of Excellence
Category | Entertainment
- City of Tampa
- Moffatt & Nichol
- Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.
Kennedy Plaza is a four-block over water structure that offers a safe and enjoyable pathway away from the busy streets of downtown and commercial buildup along the Hillsborough River. Linking two disjointed sections previously completed on either side of Kennedy Boulevard, Kennedy Plaza is the most incredible section of the Tampa Riverwalk aesthetically and experiential with lighting, shade, and gathering spaces.
An instant success with the community and our judges, who found Kennedy Plaza to be a stimulating adventure in form, function, and whimsical lighting, beckoning the community to embark on a riverfront journey. This vital and safe Riverwalk link is certain to contribute to the economic development and a unique sense of place in Downtown Tampa.
Category | Entertainment
- City of Plant City
- Plant City’s Community
- Redevelopment Agency
The City had the foresight in 2007 to initiate the redevelopment of an underutilized area south of Downtown guided by their adopted, award-winning Midtown Redevelopment Vision Plan. Environmental clean-up was funded through a Brownfield Program application. This focal point is an attractive park designed to entice businesses and developers, while it serves as a community outdoor living room for Plant City with cool amenities around a 3-tier marble fountain.
The judges felt the Midtown Village Green showcases what good planning can do, not only transforming a brownfield into a usable and inviting place; but also as a catalyst to start anew with a foundation for economic growth and walkability in place.
Awards of Merit
Category | Investment
- Hillsborough County Public Schools
- Wilder Architecture
- Batson-Cook Construction
Our judges gave high marks for pre-planning for expected growth in the area, as well the many efficiencies in design and co-functionality with the future park and Lennard High School, also from an educational mentoring standpoint. The judges cheered for the LEED Silver Standards met and the “learning gardens” as one of many great lesson plans for future school design.
Category | Housing
- Tampa Housing Authority
- Banc of America Community Development Corporation
- Siltek Group
- Baker Barrios Architects
Our judges love the legacy of the REED and its mixed-uses, lifestyle quality, and connectivity for active seniors in need of affordable housing in our community. The REED bears the name of Essie Mae Reed, a former tomato picker who became the first African-American woman to run for Tampa City Council, working tirelessly to improve the lives of people in public housing… and so much more.
Awards of Merit (Continued)
- Hillsborough County
- Veterans Memorial Park Museum Committee
- The Beck Group
- The Gonzmart Family of Restaurants
- The City of Tampa
- Hillsborough River Stewardship Award
The Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board and Technical Advisory Council awarded its first annual Hillsborough River Stewardship Award recognizing leadership and dedication in the protection of the health and well-being of the Hillsborough River. Tampa City Councilwoman and Hillsborough River Board Chair, Lisa Montelione presented a specially engraved oar to Sid Flannery…
An oar represents the perfect award for a pragmatic advocate for the overall health of the Hillsborough River watershed. Mr. Flannery began working for the Southwest Florida Water Management District in 1985. He served as a Chief Environmental Scientist until he retired in 2014 and contributed to the development of one of the state’s most robust programs for implementing and re-evaluating Minimum Flows and Levels for nearly thirty years. The pioneer of the application of the “percent-of-flow” approach in West Central Florida that emphasizes the critical interactions where saltwater and freshwater mix as well as the fish and other organisms that depend on it, Sid Flannery was key to the environmental recovery of the Lower Hillsborough River. And for that, we all thank you, Sid Flannery!
- Executive Director's Award
Melissa Zornitta, Executive Director of the Planning Commission and President of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, spoke about the importance of planning for health in our communities. Noting that, “Planners work extensively to make improvements in our long term plans to better the quality of life for everyone in our region. Sometimes, great people and organizations come together and step up to the plate to offer more immediate solutions to challenges for many individuals. This summer, the Veggie Van, A Mobile Market Place was launched to help meet the needs of individuals and families living in underserved areas of our region.”
The Veggie Van is a colorful, refrigerated truck distributing fresh, nutritious food such as fruits and vegetables for just one dollar per bag into targeted communities like Wimauma Village, Tampa Heights, and Sulphur Springs. In areas like these, people may rely on the not-so nutritious offerings of fast food and convenience stores in what planners call food deserts, where people are located quite a distance from grocery stores and often without transportation to access healthy foods.
The 2015 Executive Director’s Award was presented to a stellar example of action promoting health and wellness in our community. The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA was able to launch the Veggie Van, A Mobile Market Place thanks to generous funding from their partners, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, the Joy McCann Foundation, and the Bank of America Foundation. Thank you to your entire team!
- Chairman's Awards
Planning Commission Chair Mitch Thrower spoke of the health benefits of walking and bicycling, “But we are also all too aware of the staggering statistics often ranking our region at or near the top in bicycle and pedestrian deaths in our country. Many kids are driven to school and many adults elect to drive to work or shopping trips. These are missed opportunities for healthier lifestyles, because many do not feel safe on our roadways.” Commissioner Thrower recognized two important projects with the 2015 Chairman’s Award.
For promoting safety, health, and wellness in our community: Buffered Bike Lanes on Platt & Cleveland Streets
- City of Tampa Department of Transportation & Stormwater Service
- DKS Associates
The new Complete Street traffic configuration is one-way, two lane roads with reduced speed limits to 35 miles per hour. The final design includes safety features for cyclists such as buffered bike lanes, door zone areas adjacent to parked vehicles, and green pavement marking conflict zones. We applaud the implementation of these important safety changes and look forward to ongoing infrastructure improvements.
Cyclovia Tampa Bay
- City of Temple Terrace
- Tampa Downtown Partnership
- Florida Department of Transportion
- Gresham – Pederson, Inc.
Cyclovia is a Spanish term meaning cycle way. It made its debut in the City of Tampa in October 2014 and in the City of Temple Terrace in May 2015. More than just walking and bicycling, these events included family fun for people of all ages, health and safety education, bicycle helmet fittings, singing, dancing, playing, street chalk art, history bike tours, local sports team mascot appearances, food trucks, and much more. We thank you for attracting thousands of people to our streets to experience their cities on foot or wheels of all types while promoting safety, health, and wellness!