The Tampa Jewish Community Center is constructing a new campus in West Tampa, Florida, that will include a renovated former National Guard Armory, thanks in part to a donation from one of the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bryan Glazer, co-chairman of the Buccaneers donated $4 million for the $26 million project that will transform the former Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory Building into a 100,000-square-foot sports and recreation center. The facility will be renamed the Bryan Glazer Family JCC in honor of Glazer, JCC officials announced at a groundbreaking for the campus on Monday. The campus is expected to open in September 2016.
So far, the JCC has raised $19.5 million of the $26 million, with $6 million in state funding and $1.3 million from Hillsborough County, according to an article in the Tampa Tribune. The JCC entered into a 99-year lease with the State Armory Board with an option to purchase the building and 5.6 acres of land surrounding it for $1.44 million, according to the article.
According to the JCC's business plan, the campus will become self-sustaining during the fifth year, and during the interim years, administrators will meet the budget through supplemental campaign fundraising.
When completed, the historic art deco-style armory building could include a fitness and aquatics center, preschool, fine arts center, events center, basketball and volleyball courts, senior center, cafe, and community health and wellness center. But the association is still making key decisions regarding fitness services and amenities within the new facility, Jack Ross, executive director of the Tampa JCC, told Club Industry.
The National Guard last used the facility in 2004. The building also had served as a venue for entertainment, political and social events featuring Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King, the World Wrestling Federation, The Doors, Buddy Holly and President John F. Kennedy.
The JCC will be in West Tampa, just south of I-275 as part of a plan to rehabilitate a 930-acre community redevelopment area. As part of the plan, the city and the Tampa Housing Authority will tear down an aging public housing project and replace it with mixed income housing. By building the JCC in this area, the city hopes to attract new businesses and development.
"Think about the role this building will play in the amazing transformation of our city," Bob Buckhorn, mayor of Tampa, told the Tribune. "This is the beginning of something special."
Forty-six percent of the Jewish community in the Tampa area live south of I-275, and South Tampa is the fastest growing Jewish area in Tampa, according to a 2012 independent study.
In a press release, Glazer said he couldn't pass up the chance to enhance Jewish life in the heart of Tampa.
"With such a large Jewish community living here, we really needed a facility that was conveniently located and the Armory is a perfect fit," he says. "It will be place for people of all ages to enjoy. I'm delighted to help make this dream a reality for our community."