Tampa Housing Authority, Banc of America Community Development Corporation
Baker Barrios Architects
When Orlando-based ZMG Construction first became involved with Encore!, the downtown Tampa redevelopment project, they held two job fairs. The first fair, says ZMG development manager Scot Hamilton, was to get to know the local contracting community. The second was to invite the neighbors in to talk about employment. Hamilton says he anticipated 1,500 people, but thousands came. “We were going to buy hot dogs and drinks for everyone,” he says, “but we spent every minute we had interviewing and obtaining everyone’s information, which we … use to this day in hiring workers for the project.” The development, a joint venture of the Tampa Housing Authority and the Banc of America Community Development Corporation (BACDC), features numerous economic and ecological elements and is as ambitious as it is conscious.
Encore! is a project to revitalize Tampa’s Central Park, a once-vibrant African-American community rich with music history—it’s encore performance for the site, so to speak. “The Central Park Village site has an amazing history,” BACDC senior vice president Roxanne Amoroso says. “Our marketing team was made aware of the historical significance of some of the musical events that happened right at the site, and it became natural for our team to embrace that history. Encore! is a rebirth of all of the good things that occurred.” The project also is targeting LEED-ND certification.
The 28-acre site comprises 12 parcels slated for development, the infrastructure for which will be complete by mid-2012. Key elements include a storm-water-capture vault, a photovoltaic array connected to the Tampa Electric Company (TECO) power grid, and a central chiller plant. On the heels of the chiller plant will come a seven-story, 160-unit senior-housing project called the Ella, named for Ella Fitzgerald, a frequent performer at Central Park nightclubs. The Ella is located on the old Central Avenue, which will be renamed Ray Charles Boulevard to honor the great R&B recording artist, who cut his first record in Central Park. An affordable-housing project called Trio also is in the queue, and other parcels will house retail, office, and additional residential space.
From June to September, Tampa rainfall averages about 6.5 inches per month; for the rest of the year, it’s only 2.33 inches. So the idea of capturing rainfall for reuse made sense. At Encore!, rainwater is stored underground in a vault, filtered, and reused for irrigation. “A pond would have required two acres of land,” Hamilton says, “so the decision was made to go with … the vault under the planned Technology Park.” Rainfall is retained in the 18,000-square-foot vault two feet below the surface. If the vault reaches capacity, sand filtration introduces clean storm-water runoff into Tampa Bay, and for the dry months of the year, if the water runs out, pumps are activated to draw irrigation water from an underground well.
At the end of the Technology Park is a 4,000-square-foot, 99-panel photovoltaic array. “The panels will be generating between 22 and 23 kilowatts of electricity, which will be sent back to the TECO power grid for energy credits,” Hamilton says. The plan is to include a digital display board showing the panel’s energy production and make it an educational feature for adults and children alike. “The solar array will generate enough to power all the street lighting in the entire neighborhood,” he says. “It will also compare energy usage of the exterior street lighting and other consumer products.”
“With 80 percent humidity and 92-degree temperatures six months of the year, there would be few people living here without the advent of cooling systems,” says architect Rob Ledford, principal of Encore!’s lead design firm, Baker Barrios Architects. But he also knows there are ways to cool efficiently. Encore!’s central chilled-water plant has a capacity of 4,500 tons of water, and its installation was left up to ZMG. “We laid over 6,000 lineal feet of insulated steel pipe underground,” Hamilton says. “It was a difficult job to work around sewage and storm systems that had to stay in place, but you only get one shot … to do it right, and we did.”
“LEED-ND is not like getting LEED certification for a building,” Ledford says, “where you will have a defined period before the start of the project and after it is complete for commissioning.” In the case of this rating, the time frame for LEED certification could extend out for years until the project is finally complete. At this juncture, Encore! is on track for Gold certification. “One hundred percent of all the existing concrete that was on this development site has been crushed and reused as roadway base rock,” Hamilton says. “We reused and recycled everything we could in this process.”