TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott asking him to reconsider a decision on "economic opportunity zones," so that tax breaks could be used to lure developers to a site in Ybor City where a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium has been proposed.
Last month, Scott's Department of Economic Opportunity proposed 427 economic opportunity zones across the state for a new federal program designed to use tax breaks to incentivize development in low-income and blighted areas.
But while a number of Tampa and Hillsborough sites made the state's cut, the plot of land where a stadium would go in Ybor City was passed over.
Buckhorn's Monday letter called the Ybor site "a vibrant commercial, residential and industrial neighborhood that includes Ybor City, the historic heart of Tampa," but also "includes pockets of blight and shuttered industrial buildings that could be home to hundreds of new jobs."
The mayor asked the governor to substitute the Ybor neighborhood for another one of the city's recommended tracts in the Oak Grove neighborhood, sandwiched between Habana Avenue and Armenia Avenue, north of Hillsborough Avenue and south of Sligh Avenue.
Buckhorn's letter did not mention anything about a stadium, but the city's goal for the southwest corner of Ybor City is no secret.
Much of the rest of Ybor City was included in the state's recommended opportunity zones.
The designation is important to stadium supporters who see few public dollars available for a stadium, but also few private dollars without the use of incentives.
It has been difficult for many Democratic mayors to get favors from the Rick Scott administration, but Buckhorn has supported a number of Scott priorities and press conferences in recent years.
A DEO spokesperson told 10Investigates via email, “Hillsborough County did not prioritize opportunity zone census tracts upon submitting them to the state for review and recommendation. We will forward this request to the US Treasury Department which is currently reviewing input from the states.”
Buckhorn was traveling in Italy and was not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.