Castor helps break ground on Midtown Tampa development

Mayor Jane Castor's first groundbreaking Wednesday adds to Tampa's urban boom.

Long vacant land east of Dale Mabry Highway, north of Kennedy Boulevard, will become Midtown.

It will be a 25-acre development to include a Whole Foods Market, hotels, restaurants and residential space.

"Everything will have retail at its base so it will be an energetic, urban, pedestrian environment," says Nick Haines, CEO of Bromley Companies, Midtown's developer. 

The mayor says she's celebrating new projects like Midtown, but she also worries about extra traffic and the growing frustration of people trying to get to and from work.

"I hear you. I sit in that traffic," says Castor.

The vision is for Midtown to connect the Westshore district with downtown Tampa, but how to get people from place to place is a growing challenge.

"We have to have transportation solutions," says Ann Kulig of Westshore Alliance. "We cannot build our way out of the congestion with more roads."

Tampa's transportation tipping point may come on Castor's watch.

"We need to have some kind of a connection from downtown to Westshore, other than the interstate," says Castor.

Look for the mayor to push for new-generation busses or other new mass transit to run through Midtown from Westshore and downtown.

A possible route would be down Cypress Street, which will be widened to five lanes at Midtown.

"We're actively working with the city on a number of initiatives to help ease traffic," says Haines.

The developer plans to open Midtown in time for the Tampa Superbowl in 2021.