Armory's rebirth could boost West Tampa

- The Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center is set to open Thursday following a five-year, $30-million renovation of the old National Guard armory in West Tampa. The completion of the center could be the beginning of what's to come for the surrounding community.

"We're a part of something bigger than us," said Jack Ross, executive director of Tampa Jewish Community Centers. "West Tampa is undergoing a renaissance of historic proportion. We feel we're part of that renaissance."

RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME

"In 1905, West Tampa was an incorporated city and was the fifth-largest city in the state of Florida," explained former county commissioner Ed Turanchik, who now works with the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce. He believes the timing and the geography is right for a resurgence in West Tampa.

"It's right between the two largest business districts on the west coast of Florida: Downtown and Westshore. And, no matter what time of day, you're six or seven minutes from getting to work," Turanchik continued.

PROJECTS SOON TO GO

He also believes demolition of the now-vacant North Boulevard Homes housing project will be a key. Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced plans to revitalize the West River area and replace the projects with mixed-income housing.

"I think it's going to be Tampa's most ethnically diverse, robust neighborhood," insisted Turanchik.

It will soon get new energy from the JCC.

"We have become part and parcel of a community, its growth, and its future. We're very excited about that," added Ross.

The new center will be dedicated this Thursday, 75 years to the day since the dedication of the armory in 1941.

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