© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

County wants your input on an African American Arts and Cultural Center planned for West Tampa

renderings of the new African American Arts and Cultural Center in West Tampa
Courtesy
/
Hillsborough County
An African American Arts and Cultural Center, seen here in a rendering, is planned for West Tampa at the current site of the West Tampa Community Resource Center on 2103 N. Rome Ave.

The 50,000-square-foot center will be built on the current site of the West Tampa Community Resource Center at 2103 N. Rome Ave.

A new African American Arts and Cultural Center is planned for West Tampa — and the county wants feedback from residents.

The project will be built on the current site of the West Tampa Community Resource Center on 2103 N. Rome Ave.

Health care resources and the Head Start program currently housed at the resource center will be moved to a temporary location in the West Tampa area, according to county officials.

Plans for the project show a 50,000-square-foot cultural center that includes meeting spaces, galleries, labs, studios, event spaces, retail and a cafe.

african american arts and cultural center rendering
Courtesy
/
Hillsborough County
A new African American Arts and Cultural Center is planned for construction in 2024.

Outside, the cultural center will feature an amphitheater, lawn space, sculptures, a ribbon trail and multi-use gathering spaces.

Construction is estimated at $30 million. More than half the funds have been raised through public and private means, according to the county.

The project is expected to break ground in 2024 and be complete in 2026.

Initial plans for the project were approved by the Hillsborough County Commission in June of 2021.

Commissioner Gwen Myers, who oversees the district the facility will be built in, said the center is "long overdue" for residents of West Tampa.

"There's not a place for the community to congregate and celebrate African American history and all that's been overcome," said Myers. "This facility will encompass all of that for the residents."

Myers said visitors will be able to walk on a trail from the west bank of the Hillsborough River to the cultural center, and plans are in the works to incorporate "traveling exhibits" as well.

The commissioner noted that this project is a first on such a large scale that commemorates African American history and accomplishments in the Tampa area.

site plan for new african american arts and cultural center
Courtesy
/
Hillsborough County
A site plan for the African American Arts and Cultural Center in West Tampa set to break ground in 2024.

"Back in the 60s, West Tampa was a very thriving community with a number of African American businesses located on Main Street. Today they are not there," said Myers. "However, as West Tampa is being redeveloped, there is an opportunity to bring back some of that."

The future site of the project is in one of the eight original African American neighborhoods in Tampa, according to the project description.

"Over time, several of the original eight areas have been lost or reduced. Today, West Tampa remains a predominantly African American community," the description reads.

According to the 2020 Census, the area has a 69% African American population living near the project site.

The cultural center is intended to be open seven days a week and will be run by the county, said Myers.

Community members will be able to give input at the next two planned public meetings:

  • Monday, Oct. 30, at 6:30 p.m.
    Emanuel P. Johnson Recreation Center
    5725 S. 78th St., Tampa, FL 33619
  • Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 6:30 p.m.
    West Tampa Community Resource Center
    2103 N. Rome Ave., Tampa, FL 33607

Hillsborough County Facilities Management & Real Estate Services staff will be available to answer questions, and residents can see visual representations of what the center will look like.

Residents can also provide input through the County's engagement and education hub, HCFLGov.net/HCEngage, until Nov. 8.

According to Myers, between 100 to 125 people attended the first public meeting at the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library on Monday.

Give your input here: https://www.publicinput.com/q7647

As WUSF's general assignment reporter, I cover a variety of topics across the greater Tampa Bay region.