For Immediate Release
October 26, 2017
Planning Commission announces
35th Annual Planning & Design Award Winners
Tampa, FL - The Planning Commission is proud to announce the winners of our 35th Annual Planning & Design Awards presented by TECO. The event was held on October 19 at TPepin's Hospitality Centre. With the emphasis on the importance of great planning and design in our own community, our awards program aligns with the many national festivities during the American Planning Association's (APA) National Community Planning Month (NCPM) and celebration of Great Places in America. Established in 2006, NCPM highlights the role of planners and the importance of good planning in our communities.

Awards of Merit, Excellence, and Outstanding Contribution to the Community as selected by a panel of expert judges from outside of Hillsborough County were presented by Brendan McLaughlin. Photographs of the event and award winners can be viewed in an album on the Planning Commission's facebook page.
Jan Abell Award
The Jan Abell Award was created in 2001 by the Planning Commission to recognize  Outstanding Contribution in the Historic Preservation Category. Jan Abell was a local, passionate preservationist who successfully saved some of Tampa's and Florida's most important buildings.
Categories |
Historic Preservation & Investment
Bryan Glazer Family JCC
- FleischmanGarcia
Architecture | Planning | Interior Design
Behar + Peteranecz Architecture

Constructed in 1941 for the Florida National Guard and the United States Army Reserves use, the Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory has also served as Tampa's largest and most popular venue for entertainment and community activities. As an important historic landmark for the City of Tampa, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.Vacant since 2004, the Armory was deteriorating at a rapid pace. Yet, the structure was found to be in excellent condition. While many potential uses for the Armory had been explored and rejected by the City of Tampa, the use as a new South Tampa Jewish Community Center (JCC) with a 600 seat state-of-the-art event center, gymnasium, competition swimming pool, fitness center, childcare, and meeting rooms has proven to be the right choice. A needed community center serving people of all religions, the new JCC has energized the neighborhood and spurred additional development and enhancements.

The judges loved the adaptive reuse of the Armory and how the new look, inside and outside, incorporated historic preservation. The center has become a catalyst for revitalization, transforming the NoHo/West Tampa community. Thank you for preserving this historic treasure and investing to improve the quality of life in our community!
Awards of
Outstanding Contribution to the Community
Urban Conga outdoor chess tables in Ybor City
Category | Entertainment
Playable Urban Interventions


- The Urban Conga


The Urban Conga is a Tampa based design firm that promotes community activity and social interaction through play. By creating interactive installations and environments, they spark fun, creativity, exploration, and free-choice learning. Created by University of South Florida architecture graduate Ryan Swanson, the Urban Conga interjects activity into the underutilized spaces of downtown Tampa through play. As a part of inspiring people to play every day and incorporate play into their normal routines, the innovative idea of "play everywhere" continues to be implemented by bringing play to unexpected but everyday spaces, making it easy and available.

Our judges adored everything about how Playable Urban Interventions takes the "live, work, play" theme to a new level. They found that through both temporary and permanent installations, creating unexpected places to play as a norm in our urban fabric is innovative, engaging, and very transferable to other communities.
Category | Environmental
Rock Ponds Ecosystem Restoration Project


- SWIM Program of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD)

- Conservation and Environmental

Lands Management Department of Hillsborough County

- Scheda Ecological Associates

The largest coastal restoration project ever performed for Tampa Bay is a cooperative effort between SWFWMD's Surface Water Improvement and Management Program (SWIM) and the Conservation and Environmental Lands Management Department of Hillsborough County. A component of management plans of both the SWIM Program and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, the Rock Ponds are located on three public parcels in southeastern Tampa Bay. Historically, the site contained coastal pine and hardwood forests and various estuarine and freshwater habitats. This project involves the restoration and enhancement of 1.6 square miles of various coastal habitats including 16.2 miles of new Tampa Bay shoreline. In addition, the project creatively helps restore the area's hydrology, improves the bay's water quality, creates fisheries habitats, and supplements important bird nesting and feeding habitats. This project complements the adjacent 500 acre SWIM/Hillsborough County Cockroach Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project, with both sites open for public use.

The judges were overflowing with praise for the Rock Ponds Restoration.
They loved the nature of this project and the incredible public engagement including the nearly 2100 volunteers who installed 200,000+ marsh plants! The indefinite list of environmental benefits to the Tampa Bay Estuary and the region is a triumph for collaborative inter-agency coordination to enhance successful implementation and monitoring.
Category | Participation
Sidewalk Stompers
- Founders Emily Hay Hinsdale | Tim & Ashley Scheu | Matti & Vanessa Rukholm
A volunteer organization, Sidewalk Stompers powers community building and safer pedestrian pathways via school-based walking programs and public advocacy. It focuses on making it safer for children to get to school by building a larger community commitment to pedestrian traffic. Its Walk to School Wednesday program was launched in the spring of 2016 at Roosevelt Elementary School. Student participation has more than doubled since its inception. The first Wednesday of the 2017-18 school year saw almost a third of the student body arriving on foot! High participation rates have allowed the Sidewalk Stompers to advocate for better safety infrastructure with traffic engineering officials. The Roosevelt school zone and primary walking routes now have new and updated crosswalks and safety signage. Sidewalk Stompers is building on these accomplishments by enacting outreach programs to other schools and neighborhoods to aid even more students and more communities.
The judges loved the grassroots activism, saying "Jane Jacobs would be proud." Children are learning the benefits of walking or biking to school safely by being part of a group; making physical activity a habit that better prepares them for learning; connecting with parents, friends, and neighbors; and enjoying the environmental benefits of reduced traffic to improve air quality around their school.
Awards of Excellence
Categories |  
Investment & Environmental 
Jack R. Lamb
Elementary School


- Hillsborough County Public Schools

- Holmes Hepner & Associates Architects

- Batson-Cook Company

This two-story elementary school was designed to serve 940 pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students in the Progress Village neighborhood of Hillsborough County. The project is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification and incorporates flexibility of use by efficiently arranging standardized pairs of classrooms along a double-loaded corridor. Each instructional space receives natural daylight, while the central corridors provide a secure environment for collaborative learning. Classroom pairs and core program spaces are assigned various colors of the spectrum. These colors act as a means of way-finding and define learning spaces. Building elements provide opportunities for student engagement and learning. Lighting constellations mark key points of circulation and mimic stars in the night sky.

Our judges were ready to enroll in this school for everything from the cutting-edge mechanical and lighting systems to the historic context in design and architecture to the eco-learning terraces. They loved this investment in a fabulous public facility that has created a fun and healthy learning environment for our young students.
Category | Investment
Palm Avenue Complete Street

- City of Tampa Transportation & Stormwater Services
- City of Tampa Parks & Recreation
- Sam Schwartz Engineering

Palm Avenue connects the historic neighborhoods of Ybor City and Tampa Heights. The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization and the City of Tampa completed the Walk-Bike Phase One study in 2011 that recommended Palm Avenue be converted to a two-lane divided roadway with bike lanes from North Boulevard to Nebraska Avenue. It was also identified as a high priority corridor for bicycle and pedestrian connectivity in the Tampa Heights Plan.
A Complete Street with a contextually sensitive design approach was used to determine the appropriate improvements for the entire length of Palm Avenue to calm traffic and enhance the bicycle and pedestrian experience.

The judges appreciated using this conversion from a four-lane undivided, high volume street to a two-lane divided complete street as an opportunity to thoughtfully rebuild this community, while improving safety for all users. They applauded this complete street not only for its safety and connectivity, but also for its potential economic development impact.
Category | Environmental
Scott Street Low Impact Development Green Street
- Tampa Housing Authority
- City of Tampa Parks & Recreation 
- Ekistics Design Studio

An urban neighborhood roadway connecting downtown Tampa and Ybor City, Scott Street's original design prioritized vehicular movement over pedestrian and bicycle safety. This improvement project was envisioned by the City of Tampa as a demonstration for innovative green stormwater solutions, traffic calming, and aesthetic streetscape development. The retrofit design involved the creation of vegetated stormwater infiltration basins, while providing opportunities for street trees and traffic calming. Stormwater inlets are wrapped with vegetated basins equipped with trash and sediment traps. Water that previously discharged directly into Tampa Bay is now filtered through these multi-purpose landscape islands. In addition, traffic lanes were narrowed, and chicanes and medians were added. Historic granite curbs and street bricks were re-purposed to create context relevant stormwater inlets and crosswalks. These improvements were constructed without the need for additional right of way and preserved the majority of existing pavement, curb, and sidewalk.

The judges loved the design, originality, and high impact of this roadway project. The significant environmental and social benefits combined with minimal reconstruction make Scott Street an excellent model for a neighborhood scale retrofit of an urban street as a complete street.
Awards of Merit
Categories |  
Entertainment & Participation
Hillsborough County
Veterans Memorial Park - Phase 3 War Memorials


- Genesis

- Veterans Memorial Park Museum Committee


The Hillsborough County Veterans Park and Museum was established to honor the residents of Hillsborough County who served, and especially those who lost their lives, in war. The World War Two, Afghanistan War, Seminole War, Spanish American War, and Civil War veterans' memorials were completed this year, bringing a total of sixteen separate memorials located throughout this award-winning park. The memorials, surrounded by large oaks on the shore of the Tampa Bypass Canal, invite contemplation and reflection. This was truly a group effort, led by well-organized local veterans who worked tirelessly to achieve their vision for these memorials. Supporting this goal, Genesis and many other individuals and organizations supplied professional services, materials, and labor for free, or at reduced cost.

The judges found the war memorials to be inspirational. This park beckons  family-members and the public from all generations to pay tribute to our greatest heroes. They loved how the beautiful park environment is conducive for family-gatherings and community events, offering a unique place for people to meander through the war memorial vignettes.
Categories |  
Entertainment & Investment 
Kotfila Memorial Dog Park


- Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA)

- Wannemacher Jensen Architects (WJA)

- LEMA Construction

- City of Tampa

Developed under the Selmon Expressway, the dog park opened this summer in memory of Deputy John Robert Kotfila, Jr., who lost his life to a wrong-way driver on the Selmon Expressway in March 2017. Deputy Kotfila slammed into that car on purpose to save another driver's life. A meaningful project, the Kotfila Memorial Dog Park is the most recent THEA community investment project in the downtown area. THEA continues to improve and develop the 1.7 mile Selmon Greenway created using Federal Highway Administration TIGER funds in 2014. The Greenway allows urban residents and visitors to safely walk from the Hillsborough River to 19th Street in Ybor City.

Our judges were moved by the background story, and appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into the dog park features. They applaud THEA's ongoing initiative to create community spaces beneath the Selmon Expressway along the Greenway.
Category | Investment
Plant City Right Now


- City of Plant City

- Plant City and Tampa - Hillsborough County Economic Development Corporations

- Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce


Plant City developed a multi-pronged strategic plan and spearheaded its implementation with local partners to promote economic expansion to attract employers to provide opportunities to keep multi-generations rooted in Plant City. Four major elements include the Plant City Right Now marketing campaign; expedition of the permitting process; formation of the Plant City Economic Development Corporation; and investment in targeted infrastructure projects. As a direct result, more than two dozen new projects have been built or are under construction, representing a minimum of 600 new jobs and over three million square feet of new commercial and light industrial space are being constructed in Plant City.
The judges loved this visionary approach to economic development and the impressive progress Plant City Right Now has made in a short time. The focus on young adults and this smart marketing campaign will continue to have an important impact on the future of Plant City.
Categories |  
Entertainment & Participaton
Turning Designs into Reality | The Power of Partnership


- University Area Community Development Corporation (UACDC) 

- Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)

- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

For more than a decade, the UACDC has championed positive change in the University Area Community, where high crime, poverty and a lack of basic resources has plagued the area for decades. In April 2015, the BOCC approved the build of the new band shell entertainment facility. By September 2015, residents were using it to celebrate diversity, entertainment, and culture in their own community. This success sparked the idea for a multi-purpose pavilion with a covered basketball court to be built. The combined area now provides community space for people to come together and enjoy music, play sports, host events, and make memories.
The judges believe in the "power of partnership" that "turned designs into reality" through an incredible investment in this traditionally under-served community. They loved how the community invested in the design through a survey to identify wants and needs. These facilities are having a big impact on the quality of life in the University Area community by providing a safe place for arts, culture, healthy activity, and friendships to grow.
Category | Entertainment
Ybor City Historic Holiday Spirit Program


- Ybor City Development Corporation

- City of Tampa

- Centro Ybor


This community-initiated holiday campaign transforms our historic district into a charming holiday village. The Ybor City's Historic Holiday Spirit program has established signature holiday events that did not previously exist. A 25 foot holiday tree and a signature parade attract thousands of visitors and continues to grow. With a modest public investment, this program has had an economic development impact that improves commercial corridors, neighborhoods, and the quality of life for Ybor City's residents and businesses. Each year, the number of community volunteers continues to grow. Local Hillsborough County School marching bands participate, and in-turn have received more than $150,000 in contributions from this program.

Our judges got right into the holiday spirit. They loved the magical experience of the Snow on 7th Holiday Parade, especially for local children and adults who have never seen snow!  Plus, the contribution made to local school music programs was music to their ears.
Three awards were presented that were not judged by our jury.
Chairman's Award
Burgert Brothers Photo Collection
- Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library
- Friends of the Library of Tampa-Hillsborough County
- University of South Florida Library Special Collections
The Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection is comprised of nearly 16,000 images taken between the late 1800s and early 1960s. Established by brothers Al and Jean Burgert, their studio stood out as Tampa's leading commercial photographic firm and focused primarily on the Tampa Bay area. Tampa's journey from a small town into major city is captured through images of life's daily activities, from the churches, homes, businesses, farms, and streets that made up our community to community festivals like Gasparilla and the Florida State Fair. From wars and natural disasters to economic booms and busts, the images document our legacy. This picture-perfect view of our diverse community across the decades leaves little doubt these photos will continue to be an historic treasure.  
Planning Commission Chair Mitch Thrower said, "It is an honor to recognize the dedication, cooperation, and coordination of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, Friends of the Library, and the University of South Florida Library Special Collections for their work to preserve and make these amazing photographs available to the public and for being the caretakers of such an important historic resource to our community." 
Executive Director's Award
Cross Bay Ferry Pilot Project


- City of Tampa

- City of St. Petersburg

- Hillsborough County

- Pinellas County

- HMS Ferries


For years, many in our community dreamed of a better way to connect Downtown Tampa and Downtown St. Petersburg. Last November, that dream came true when HMS Ferries began operation of a seasonal service pilot project between our sister cities. Led by HMS Ferries project advisor, Ed Turanchik, the vision was made a reality when these four jurisdictions partnered on the pilot project by providing $350,000 to get the ferry up and running. In an unprecedented show of cooperation between bay area jurisdictions and a mission to introduce Tampa Bay area residents to water transit service and passenger ferry technology, the pilot project was deemed a success. With about 41,000 passengers over six months of operation, numbers increased steadily month after month.

Planning Commission Executive Director Melissa Zornitta said, "The Cross Bay Ferry Pilot Project laid the groundwork for permanent ferry service around Tampa Bay. Thank you to the Mayors, Councilmembers, Commissioners, HMS Ferries, and the entire visionary multi-jurisdictional team for your leadership."
Hillsborough River Stewardship Award
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful

Selected by the Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board & Technical Advisory Council (TAC), Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) continues to clearly demonstrate leadership and dedication in the protection of the health and well-being of the Hillsborough River. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful manages a number of programs that directly benefit the Hillsborough River. One of the newest and very successful programs is the Trash Free Waters Initiative that has motivated more than 16,000 community members to remove trash and debris from our most valuable natural resource - our waterways. Last year, volunteers removed over 50 tons of litter at over 80 sites throughout Hillsborough County. And, they had fun doing it! The Trash Free Waters Initiative empowers individuals to volunteer to make a difference in our community while improving our waterways.

Vice Chair of the Hillsborough River Board's TAC Dr. Richard Brown said, "The River Board & Technical Advisory Council applaud the ongoing coordination efforts and numerous accomplishments of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and look forward to enjoying the results of their dedicated service to our community and region for generations to come."
- END -
Plan Hillsborough Media Contact:
Lynn Merenda
| Switchboard: 813.272.5940 | Direct: 813.273.3774 x342 |
What is Plan Hillsborough?

Plan Hillsborough provides value-added planning services through a diverse team of professionals working towards a thriving future for Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City, and Hillsborough County, and provides staff to the:

Promotes, coordinates, collaborates with, and facilitates the involvement of all people in comprehensive planning and visioning to improve economic development opportunities and quality
of life in our community

A long-range transportation policy-making board made up of local government and transportation agency representatives planning for more than $1.5 billion
in state and federally funded multi-modal transportation investments in the first 5 years of each 20+ year plan
Responsible for promoting collaborative planning, regulation, and development along the river corridor while ensuring the environmental health of the river running through Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa and Temple Terrace