Weekly Planner banner

from  Bob Hunter, FAICP, Executive Director 

 eNews Issue 2011.27   


 Plant City's Laura Street Revitalization

Robert B Hunter, FAICPOver the last several years, the City of Plant City has been partnering with community leaders and residents of the historic African-American neighborhood of Lincoln Park to revitalize and redevelop the Laura Street area.  Beginning with the allocation of funding to restore the historic Bing-Washington Rooming House, the City partnered with the Improvement League to restore this important cultural landmark to be used as a Neighborhood Community Center and African-American Museum.  The long-anticipated grand opening of the African-American Museum is scheduled next month on September 15th.


Bing-Washington Rooming House before restoration
Bing-Washington Rooming House Before Restoration
Bing-Washington Rooming House after restoration
After Restoration


Next, the City turned its attention to improving Laura Street itself, between Knight and Warnell Streets.  By investing in excess of $1,000,000 to widen portions of Laura Street, there's now sufficient lane width to reinstitute two-way traffic.  Adding new landscaping, sidewalks and the associated drainage improvements have greatly improved the functionality of Laura Street and the overall appearance of the Lincoln Park neighborhood.


Samuel W Cooper ParkStormwater was another key issue that needed to be addressed for this redevelopment effort to be a success.  As much of this area in Plant City is within the one hundred year floodplain, significant flooding issues have arisen from time to time in Lincoln Park.  The City developed a collection and retention system designed to not only control stormwater runoff, but also to serve as a recreational amenity for the neighborhood.  This project cost of approximately $3,000,000 and was funded through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Program, the City of Plant City Community Redevelopment Trust Fund, and the City of Plant City Water & Sewer Fund.  By designing the facility to be used as more than just a stormwater control facility, the neighborhood gained a beautiful lake park dedicated to longtime civic and community activist Samuel W. Cooper on October 18th 2005.  The City has also made significant recreational improvements to Marie B. Ellis Park, another nearby recreation site.

Cooper Park with walking path around lake with fountain 

To increase homeownership opportunities for families and individuals whose total household income is less than 80% of the median income of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the City acquired several properties in the Laura Street Restoration Overlay District to resell to qualified persons for the construction of affordable housing.  City staff worked with Hillsborough County's Affordable Housing Services and Plant City Community Development Corporation to develop affordable homes using a mutual self-help housing concept.  As partners in this endeavor, Hillsborough County's Affordable Housing Services provided homeownership training and gap financing; while the Plant City Community Development Corporation located and qualified buyers, secured primary financing, coordinated homebuyer participation in the self-help process, and oversaw the home construction.


Historically, numerous light-commercial and office uses were scattered throughout this area; but due to a variety of social and economic factors, most ceased operation in the 1980s and '90s.  To further enhance this area's overall transition, reintroduction of a mixed use environment along portions of Laura Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard were discussed with residents at community outreach meetings held in March and August.  The neighborhood expressed a desire to reintroduce a mixed use environment and the opportunities that come along with it.


This has driven the development of a land use amendment and rezoning being processed by the Planning Commission and the City of Plant City expected to be complete by the Spring of 2012.  By making adjustments over time to its comprehensive plan and programs over time, Plant City continues to reinvest in itself - embracing its future while preserving its past.  The City Commission, City Administration, strong civic associations and all of its citizens deserve recognition not only for their commitment to their vision, but also for their follow through in decision-making with their big picture goals, objectives and policies held paramount.  By working together to get projects funded, this community is making the Plant City vision a reality one step at a time.


The Planning Commission logo 

In This Issue
Plant City's Laura Street Revitalization
What's Going On
Take A Survey
Watch Our Videos


Missed An Issue?

View All eNews button

Join our mailing list TPC

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter


What's Going On

September 12th | 2:00 pm

Planning Commission Regular Meeting & Workshop


September 12th | 5:30 pm 
Planning Commission Public Hearing to consider an Amendment to the City of Tampa's Comprehensive Plan  


For more information on meetings and events, please visit our websites:




imaging2035 logo



Take A Survey

University Area Community Plan Update Survey


Watch Our Videos

Planning Commission Purpose & Vision video

Planning Commission

Purpose & Vision

'Feeling Good' about Hillsborough County

'Feeling Good' about

Hillsborough County

Partnering For The Future Workshop -- May 6 2011

Partnering For The Future Workshop -- May 6 2011


















In accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other nondiscrimination laws, public participation is solicited without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability or family status.