On South Franklin Street across from the Convention Center there is a row of old buildings that are the last testament of the bustling warehousing and manufacturing center that lined the waterfront South of downtown. Recently work commenced on the TECO Streetcar line extension and a few months ago the 2 story building at 238 S. Franklin (The former Fuel teen nightclub) was demolished. You would think that the 2 events were related. You can see the block below in the birdseye view.
Then, a friend called me today to say that another building on South Franklin Street across from the convention center was coming down. Here is the picture I took this afternoon.
Here's a shot of the buildings from Google Earth Street View. The one story building on the right was built in 1905 and the two story building on the left was built in 1917, according to the property appraisers site. I'm not sure how old the orange warehouse building is, as its info has already been removed from the Hills. Co. Property Appraisers website.
In doing more research on the Property Appraisers website I see that the whole block (including the old post office building) is owned by FUEL INVESTMENTS & DEVELOPMENT LLC , which bought the properties in 2006. I went to their website and see that they were the ones planning to build a W hotel in downtown Tampa. However this project was scrapped at the beginning of the downturn. Posters over on the always informative Skyscraper City Tampa Forum say there was an agreement between the city and Fuel to not tear down the buildings until something was ready to go up and that after scrapping the W hotel plans that they were going to build student housing for UT students.
I am always a little saddened when I see old buildings coming down. It is especially hard in this case knowing the age of the 2 buildings and that they were the LAST remaining buildings from this era located south of Brorien street. This area of South Franklin and extending along the channel was full of warehouses and small storefronts catering to Tampa's vibrant shipping and manufacturing industry. In the late 70s / early 80s the district was falling in disrepair as companies were consolidating or moving to the larger and recently expanded Port of Tampa. This area was becoming an eyesore and was ripe for redevelopment. Then in the mid-80s the Harbor Island development was started "eyesores" along Franklin and throughout the rest of the district were seen as a major problem. So the infamous Harbor Island People Mover was built by the developer to shuttle visitors and potential residents safely over this problem area. The pylons for the people mover were located in the current median on Franklin as it crossed from one side of the street to the other. In 1989 The new Tampa Convention Center was built across the street from these buildings on a large tract that went all the way up to the river. Although Harbor Island fell on tough times, the redevelopment ball really started rolling when the new arena for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Ice Palace, was built. Soon the hotels came, Harbor Island turned around (albeit the People Mover didn't survive), and little remained of the areas past except for a small patch of buildings between Platt and the Crosstown.
I am anxiously waiting to hear what the plans are for this block, hoping that these buildings were not demolished so that the current owner could make some money off of parking while awaiting sale to the next developer.