TAMPA (FOX 13) - Construction crews are hard at work putting the finishing touches on the soon-to-be-reopened Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.
The multi-million-dollar project was a dream of Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s for nearly 20 years, and after the past 24 months, it’s finally come to fruition.
“What we have attempted to do here is make the river the center of everything we do," Mayor Buckhorn said. "And to create a destination, a place of vitality, a place of common ground, where people from every place in this community can come and enjoy the open space with their families and enjoy the riverfront.”
Beyond the green space, there’s a boat launch for rentals and rowing teams, and a venue for weddings and events overlooking the downtown skyline.
Buckhorn compares it to New York’s iconic green space.
"I think this will become Tampa's Central Park," he continued. "It will be the continuation of the Riverwalk on the west side of the river that will eventually connect Bayshore to Ricks on the River, and it’s the beginning of the redevelopment of the west side and the west river project."
The park redevelopment cost $35 million. Nearly $15 million of it comes from the city's BP oil spill settlement. The rest is paid for by the community investment tax. Buckhorn believes it is money well spent.
“It’s public investments like these -- and this was not a cheap park -- but it’s investments like this that will trigger tens of millions of private sector of money, as we have seen on the other side of the river," the mayor said.
The 25-acre park makes its public debut this Friday, when the mayor will hold his state of the city address ahead of Saturday's grand opening. He says he's hoping to convey to the community that, for Tampa, the best is yet to come.