TAMPA, Fla. – Residents say they chose to move to Harbor Island because of the quiet residential atmosphere – but they’re afraid life as they know could be completely changed if Tampa City Council votes Thursday to move forward and approve plans for a new 14-story hotel on the island.
The hotel would be built at 800 South Harbor Island Boulevard. The property is currently zoned for a small office. The building – which used to be a bank – is offices for the Liberty Group which happens to be the same developer asking the Tampa City Council for a variance request to change the zoning from small office to hotel.
The zoning request paves the way for a new hotel that would stand 14 stories high with 150 rooms, but it’s a plan that is not sitting well with the residents. They say it will make Harbor Island even busier with traffic taking away from their peaceful way of life.
They’re afraid it could devalue properties and drive up crime, some adding that they don’t believe the property even has the space to accommodate a hotel that big.
“It definitely makes people feel a little bit uneasy,” said Maria Loyacona, a Harbor Island resident. “A lot more traffic. A lot more out-of-towners, and tourists and visitors coming that aren’t local to the area, so we don’t know what that could bring,”
Residents are making sure the city council knows their stance. Several of them have sent letters to members urging them to vote no on the zoning request. Others have decorated their cars with signs asking the city and Mayor Jane Castor to reject the plans.
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Dozens of residents said they also plan to be at today’s city council meeting – where members are set to vote on the rezoning request – to express their frustration and opposition in person.
“We don’t want a hotel, we don’t want a zoning change. We don’t want anything built on that property,” Harbour Island resident Greg Fagioli said. “It was a bank before, and it had very few vehicles coming and going.”
The Tampa City Council is set to vote on the Liberty Group variance request at their meeting Thursday at 5 p.m.