Lenny’s Lawn: the current tally

Part of the issue is that so much of the money sunk into the Landing has gone to removing, not adding, active space. So far, the Landing demolition has cost taxpayers approximately $25 million, and the result is a dead space where 30 businesses had been:

  • $15 million to purchase the Landing from previous owner Toney Sleiman (Sleiman bought the Landing for only $5 million in 2005)
  • $3 million to evict tenants and raze the structures
  • Approximately $4 million to settle a lawsuit the city had initiated against Sleiman over the Landing’s East Lot
  • $250 thousand for a market study on the shape the future park should take
  • $2 million in 2020-21 for “pre-engineering, engineering and landscaping”of the current lawn
  • $375 thousand to the three selected firms to cover part of their design costs ($125 thousand each)
  • $584 thousand to demolish the Independent Drive ramp to the Main Street Bridge
  • An undetermined amount for general maintenance of the lawn
  • Total: $25,209,000

Adding in the $10-15 million placeholder for buildout of the park, the city expects to have spent between $35,209,000 and $40,209,000 on the Landing, plus maintenance and any future investments. But even if all of that money had gone to renovating and improving the Landing space, as we and other advocates suggested, it would still be only a third of what our Tampa Bay Area peers are spending on their main parks.

What’s next?

The 12.5 acre Waterfront Park in San Diego opened in 2014 at the cost of $49.4 million.

The need for more investment, and public improvements beyond the 6 acre lawn, is understood by some in the mayor’s inner circle. Members of the panel Curry assembled to make suggestions for Downtown improvements has recommended committing $70 million toward creating riverfront parks and improving the Northbank Riverwalk. $30 million would go to Lenny’s Lawn and the nearby Liberty Street basin. This is much closer to the level of investment seen in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Completed at the price of $20 million, Detroit’s 1.2 acre Campus Martius Park was dedicated November 19, 2004.

Unfortunately, no funding source for the proposal has yet been identified, and the clock is ticking for the firms currently developing concepts for the Landing space under the current pricetag. As such, either the city needs to act quickly to find appropriate funding for the Landing site, or citizens should lower their expectations as to what we’ll see there.

Editorial by The Jaxson Magazine