Tampa City Council to Hear Options to Cancel Hanna Avenue ‘City Center’ Project Approval | Tampa Bay News | Tampa

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The proposed project site “City Center at Hanna Ave” at 2515 E Hanna Ave in Seminole Heights East.

After months of scrutiny surrounding Tampa’s $108 million “City Center at Hanna Avenue” project, the city council will hear options this Thursday to overturn its previous vote to approve construction.

The center is currently under construction on 11 acres at 2515 E Hanna Ave. in Seminole Heights East, and is expected to house hundreds of Tampa city workers when completed.

But the project has raised concerns from construction experts, attorneys, local unions and African-American community leaders, primarily due to the nature of the city’s bidding process for the project.

At multiple council meetings and through documents sent to council, experts claimed the city may have violated Florida law, which requires competitive public selection of contractors for major construction projects, CL reported in January.

In 2021, the city awarded the massive contract directly to DPR Construction. The company was first hired by the city in 2015 for a much smaller project costing around $6.2 million. Last year, the city awarded DPR an additional $102 million to build the downtown project on its own, without a public request for proposals (RFP) process.

Now council members want answers from the City of Tampa staff and legal team. Some councilors want to know if the council can reverse its vote last November to approve the project. The Tampa Bay Times reported this city council was “persuaded by Mayor Jane Castor’s administration” that the cost of the project was worth it at last year’s meeting and voted unanimously to approve it.

Councilman Bill Carlson offered to bring these new issues to light at Thursday’s meeting.

“If you look at my motion, I’m trying to be clear that it’s not the fault of the people who won the contract,” Carlson told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “It’s the fault of the city’s contract administration department, they broke all the rules.”

Carlson went on to say that Mayor Castor’s administration needs to address these issues.

“The mayor needs to clean up this department and bring in new people and new processes because this shouldn’t be happening,” Carlson said. “It’s an abuse of power that’s been happening since Buckhorn was mayor, but this administration needs to put an end to it.”

City communications director Adam Smith told CL he is verifying any official comments from the administration; City Attorney Gina Grimes did not respond to request for comment on the situation, this post will be updated if a response arrives.

“I have no doubt that this is the biggest project in the city’s history, and we need to make sure we do it right.”

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John Dingfelder seconded Carlson’s motion and introduced another earlier this month, with concerns that will also be addressed at Thursday’s meeting.

Dingfelder wants to know whether or not the city plans to address the issues of the black community and local unions involved in the project.

“I’ve seen good responses from the mayor and administration to ensure the contractor achieves a minority stake goal,” Dingfelder told CL. “And I think they’re bringing in an additional contractor, to make sure the general contractor [DPR] does everything he promised to do.”

Regarding union participation, Dingfelder said the city council and the community will “continue to hold the city under fire on these issues,” but that the city council cannot require union participation because the law of the state does not allow it. this.

Dingfelder and Carlson hoped the city would be able to address their concerns at Thursday’s meeting. Dingfelder emphasized the massive scope of the project and the importance of following the proper procedure to complete it.

“I have no doubt that this is the biggest project in the city’s history, and we need to make sure we do it right,” he said.