TAMPA, Fla. – An $18 million redevelopment project to renovate and expand Fair Oaks Park is experiencing a ‘frustrating delay’, according to City Spokesman Adam Smith.
The original plans included the City buying the Penny Saver on 34th street to replace it with a new senior center.
That commitment was made three years ago and seniors in East Tampa are still waiting for the project to get off the ground.
Staying active, praying together and fellowship are the reasons Betty Bell says programs like Jazzy Seniors are needed.
“People retire. They come home on their front porch if they can and next thing you know they’re are gone,” said Bell.
Bell has been hosting seniors at Ragan Park.
“The facility is nice,” she said. But, it is also temporary according to Bell, who says East Tampa seniors need a permanent location to gather.
“Whenever they rent this building out, we have to stay home,” she adds.
Bell was excited to learn that a new senior center was in the works.
”If they had some other place to go and be with other seniors, it makes for a better life for them,” said Bell.
Once completed, residents in East Tampa say this would be the first major development they’ve seen in the area in years.
The City of Tampa says they experienced delays when sale negotiations with the Penny Saver property owner fell through.
“This store is on a piece of that parcel, so it’s critical to this piece of development,” said resident Kella MacCaskill.
New homes are going up in the area, but MacCaskill says the store’s property is an eyesore.
“Is this what you want to see outside your front door when you’ve made this type of investment in your home?”
MacCaskill says the community has other looming concerns, like the sale of outdated or expired products.
“June 2021, cereal, and it’s a dollar.” She picked up several boxes that had expiration dates from 2021.
She says this is a food desert, making the sale of quality products that much more essential to the this neighborhood.
In a statement to Bay News 9, City Spokesman Adam Smith said “waiting on the Penny Saver owner to meet the terms of our contract has caused frustrating delays. And a new and expanded East Tampa Recreation and Senior Center is too important a priority for Mayor Castor to keep waiting. We are moving ahead on that project without the Penny Saver property.”