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Movement Advocating Against Gentrification Emerges in Tampa Heights

By Brianna Bush

Save Tampa Heights, a community initiative, is asking residents in the area to join in preserving Tampa Heights’ historical architecture.

Gentrification is not a new concern, but with more new builds in the city’s oldest suburb, those in the community think it’s time to advocate. 

“This neighborhood is close to downtown and everything is starting to gentrify,” said Jasinski, senior marketing major. “Restoration could be a better alternative than tearing everything down and building modern homes that don’t fit in.”

The movement comes after frustration with developers who take part in building “out of character” houses within the neighborhood.

According to the Save Tampa Heights website, the movement is “against developers who fail to engage with the neighborhood on projects or fail to build with historical design in mind.”

“Historic areas in a community need to be maintained,” said Kenneth Williams, owner of Suncoast Building Contractors, located in the Tampa Bay area. “It allows history to be preserved and it allows generations to see what was in the past.”

Save Tampa Heights says that they are against developers who do not comply with the Tampa Heights Community Plan.

The plan was started in 1999 and led by the Tampa Heights Civic Association and community leaders who feared redevelopment in their neighborhood. 

They created seven guidelines for what they envisioned for the neighborhood in 2019 including that their “significant, historic businesses and housing remain preserved and protected.”

Along with community members who are against new builds, Williams said that he does not agree with developers who are not mindful of a neighborhood’s history.

“I think it’s good that properties maintain certain characteristics and style,” said Williams. “Therefore, developers should not be able to come in and change that.”

The Save Tampa Heights initiative is seeing several inconsistent developments including modern and non-conforming architecture, no front porches or unusable front porches, and overbuilding lots that overshadow neighboring homes.

In order to combat this, the initiative has proposed amendment changes that outline specific historical designs.

According to Williams, there is an economic advantage of historical neighborhoods preserving their architecture.

“Economically it’s good for the area because houses will always maintain a high property value,” said Williams.

According to Jasinski, the historic background is important to the neighbors, but these changes are inevitable.

Jasinski, also a Tampa Heights resident, said his neighbors have Save Tampa Heights yard signs to support their advocacy. 

“I think that it [the movement] causes concern for the cause but is making the neighborhood divided,” said Jasinski. 

In continued efforts to spread the initiative, a Facebook page has been created and currently has over 90 members. The page provides a place where residents can share their advocacy as well as their concerns about the movement. Save Tampa Heights is also asking community members to reach out to the Tampa City Council. The movement is in support of the Tampa Heights Civic Association, which proposed a Tampa Heights Building Code that is currently under review by the City Council.

Photo Courtesy of Save Tampa Heights.

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