For Immediate Release
September 09, 2009
Contact Information

Tampa Housing Authority
LeRoy Moore
813-253-0551 x128
Dani Burrows

(BPRW) Tampa's Urban Redevelopment Celebrates Area's African-American Musical Heritage

Development Hopes to Use $38M in Federal Stimulus to Jump-Start Economy with 4,000 Jobs in Area Where Ray Charles Once Lived

(BLACK PR WIRE) (September 9, 2009) TAMPA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Here in Florida’s fourth largest city, a shovel-ready development under consideration for $38 million in federal funding could serve as a national model for sustainable urban redevelopment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act later this month. 

The project, called Encore, is also a tribute to the rich African-American musical history of an area near the city known as Central Avenue. There, jazz legend Ray Charles once lived and worked and recorded his first song, I Found My Baby There in 1948. An Emmy-award winning documentary film produced for a local PBS station, recently showcased the area’s rich musical heritage and highlighted the many jazz greats who were attracted to Tampa’s lively Central Avenue in the 1900s. 

Central Avenue was at the heart of African-American music and entertainment in the south, said Fred Hearns, president of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, who notes a history that begins around 1900 when Father of the Blues W.C. Handy performed in the area, followed by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway in the 1930s, Ray Charles first recording in the 1940s, and Hank Ballard’s discovery of the inspiration for The Twist in the 1950s. 

This new project gives us the opportunity to bring alive the history of this district -- the great history many people today may not be aware of, he said. 

In July, a consortium including the City of Tampa, Tampa Housing Authority (THA) and Banc of America Community Development Corporation (CDC) submitted an application to receive $38 million in federal stimulus dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2. If approved, $28 million will go directly to build the Encore infrastructure and another $10 million will be spent on foreclosure mitigation activities in the surrounding area. 

This mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood with housing, businesses and cultural centers will be located right next to Tampa’s central business district, said Leroy Moore, Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer of THA. This project was delayed by the recession, but now it’s well-positioned to be fast-tracked with the help of federal stimulus funds. 

Encore, whose name is borrowed from a common musical term meaning to demand a new performance, will be built on the site of a once-blighted inner-city housing project. During construction, Encore is expected to create more than 4,000 new jobs. Another 1,000 permanent jobs are expected upon completion, according to the developers. It’s also expected to be a major catalyst for area economic recovery according to its financial backers, led by the Banc of America CDC, which has already successfully developed similar downtown projects in Charlotte, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Baltimore. The CDC and THA have already invested more than $8.3 million in preparation for the development. 

Encore will offer housing for more than 1,700 residents across a broad social and economic spectrum. It will offer offices, a new hotel, grocery and other retail space, a middle school, church and community park. It’s also transit-oriented development, within walking distance of a planned regional light-rail terminal. 

An African-American history museum will be housed in a 90-year-old church within the boundaries of the Encore development.
Those projects selected for federal stimulus funding expect to be notified on or before Sept. 30.