Seminole Heights residents petition city to block new self storage facility

A group of Seminole Heights residents are petitioning the city to stop a developer from building a storage facility on East Hillsborough Avenue in Seminole Heights.

The city of Tampa would have to rezone the property to allow for the pair of three-story buildings. 

Nearby residents and business owners worry it will mess up the neighborhood's vibe.

Safeguard Self Storage Properties is eyeing 1.25 acres at 1101 and 1115 East Hillsborough Ave., at 12th Street North, situated north of Giddens Park. The plan is to demolish two existing buildings and build a two-building, three-story, air-conditioned self-storage facility, with a maximum of 750 units.

There are storage facilities nearby; one a half-mile to the east, one a mile south, and two more located two miles west.

"Honestly, how much stuff do you all need?" laughed Jodie Jones, who works at nearby Valhalla Resale. "We definitely would prefer it not to be here. Especially, with the way our business model is, in the first place. A lot less owning, a lot more renting, a lot more working with what you have."

Tuesday night, neighbors met with the property owner, the developer, and their legal team to share concerns about extra traffic, the facility's proximity to other storage facilities, the building's exterior, and the idea of seeing industrial development rather than urban or residential.

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The meeting ended with a few positive points. Southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association President Stan Lasater said those behind the project offered a few concessions, including the possibility of donating a unit to each neighborhood association or dedicating a portion of the facility as a community space.  

There are some neighbors who see any new development as a plus and welcome the change.

"It's nice to see some new colors around here," Morgan Matthews said. "Seeing some new buildings around here will definitely build people's confidence. If there's a lot more jobs out here, the more buildings, the better for everybody."

The debate continues at 6 p.m. Thursday during Tampa City Council's public hearing on the rezoning request.