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Lessons from Mayor Jane Castor at the State of Tampa’s Downtown Forum

The mayor spoke at this year’s event, and offered insight into the current + future landscape of our home.

Mayor Jane Castor speaks at a podium. A screen is next to her, with her image on it. A crowd sits in front, some of whom are taking photos.

Mayor Castor was elected in 2019.

Photo by TBAYtoday

The future is bright, TBAY. That’s a key takeaway from the State of Tampa’s Downtown Forum, hosted on Tuesday, May 7.

Influential figures and leaders within our local community gathered at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street to offer insights into the current landscape of both downtown Tampa, and the Tampa Bay area at-large.

One of those was Mayor Jane Castor. We wanted to dive deeper into what she said + fact-check her statements.


Castor was full of praise for our development scene, noting that “we’re not just putting up buildings here and there; we’re building entire neighborhoods.”

This could be a reference to Water Street Tampa, the swanky neighborhood which has brought life to a previously under-used section of downtown Tampa. Castor’s comments are even more timely given the recent news of Water Street’s next phase.

The mayor also used our development growth to crack a joke: “The Tampa bird is the crane right now because we’re seeing so much development.” The wisecrack comes amid a recent discussion among Florida officials to change the state bird.

A lot of our cranes do not offer birdsong, but instead omit the sweet sounds of construction on the condo complexes going up. Dave Traynor, VP of development services at Smith & Associates, also spoke at the event, highlighting projects like ONE Tampa, The Pendry, and the Ritz-Carlton Residences Tampa.

Rendering of the plans in Water Street Tampa. A building with a green roof and brown-colored design sits among the high rises. It's designed to be an office building.

Water Street Tampa continues to grow.

Rendering via Strategic Property Partners

Travel + transit

The mayor also touched on plans to amp up public transportation options in our area, mentioning the ongoing “focus on long-range transportation solutions for the entire Tampa Bay region.”

This is already coming to fruition. The TECO Streetcar continues to offer free rides in Tampa, the Cross Bay Ferry offers affordable transport across Tampa Bay, DASH is the city’s latest rideshare option, and a Brightline train route between Tampa and Orlando is still in the works.

Other transportation projects were also highlighted by Greg Slater, CEO/executive director of the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority. Slater discussed recently tweaked plans to update the Selmon Expressway, as well as outlining the ongoing need to develop the roads + community spaces surrounding them, including by better utilizing the land directly underneath the Selmon.

The future

Castor also made a promise: “If we continue to work together, we can ensure Tampa remains the best city in the nation.”

While this one cannot be proved factually, it’s a claim the mayor backed up with references to ongoing improvements + plans for the future. She highlighted the $2.9 billion going toward improving Tampa’s water infrastructure, as well as $250 million specifically for stormwater projects like improving drainage + flood reduction.

Castor also said “we’re being named one of the best cities in the nation on a number of levels each and every day.” It’s hard to argue with this one. Whether it’s real estate, the job market, vacation spots, or food scene, TBAY keeps ranking high.

We’ll have to check back on this last one, but the mayor believes we’re living in a crucial period of growth. Castor told the room, “this is a once in a lifetime chance for our city.” With huge projects lined up like Gasworx, Ybor Harbor, and the Central City YMCA in Tampa Heights, she may have a point. Our area is on the precipice of even more transformation.