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Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer

Richard Danielson

Richard Danielson covers city government and politics in Tampa. He joined the Times in 1987. He is the main contributor to PolitiFact Florida's Buck-O-Meter, which tracks Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's performance on 34 campaign promises.

Phone: (813) 226-3403


Twitter: @Danielson_Times

  1. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    "A gorgeous beacon for downtown Tampa," Northland Investment Corp. chief investment officer Matthew Gottesdiener said of the 35-story Element at 808 N Franklin St., overlooking Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. "We were looking for an opportunity to acquire a best in class in downtown high rise."...

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  2. Tampa moves to put freed slave Fortune Taylor's name back on historic bridge


    TAMPA — City Hall has agreed to return a long-lost honor to the memory of Fortune Taylor, a freed slave who amassed more than 30 acres near downtown Tampa after the Civil War.

    "A woman who history has forgotten," said resident Gloria Jean Royster, who encouraged the City Council to restore Taylor's name to what is now the Laurel Street bridge.

    In response, the council voted Thursday to take down two signs along the Riverwalk that identify the 91-year-old structure as the Laurel Street bridge....

    The Laurel Street Bridge over the Hillsborough River was once known as the Fortune Street Bridge in honor of Madam Fortune Taylor, a former slave and businesswoman who amassed 33 acres on the east bank of the Hillsborough River after the Civil War. The City Council voted Thursday to put Taylor's name on signs posted at the foot of the bridge and seek a historical marker telling her story. SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times (2016)

  3. Tampa's Oaklawn Cemetery placed on National Register of Historic Places

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Oaklawn Cemetery, Tampa's first public graveyard, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

    The National Park Service listed Oaklawn and the neighboring St. Louis Cemetery, just north of downtown Tampa, on Sept. 25.

    "It's very good news," said Shelby Bender, who co-authored the book, Tampa's Historic Cemeteries. "There's really no part of Tampa's history that's not touched by Oaklawn Cemetery."...

    Tampa's Oaklawn and neighboring St. Louis cemeteries just north of downtown have been added to the National Register of  Historic Places. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
  4. Demolition begins on wing of Channelside Bay Plaza, making way for Water Street Tampa (w/video)


    TAMPA — The original developers of Channelside Bay Plaza at first wanted the name of the complex to include the word "Garrison." That would have fit, because the center turned out to be fort-like, inwardly focused and unwelcoming.

    Now, 17 years after it opened, one wing of Channelside Bay Plaza is being demolished to re-open that space and, a new development team hopes, reshape visitors' perceptions of the place....

    Demolition is underway on Channelside Bay Plaza's southwest wing, which is the building at the right. CHERIE DIEZ  | Times (2012)
  5. Tampa to pay $200,000 to family of man crushed by city front-end loader

    Local Government

    TAMPA — The City Council voted Thursday to pay $200,000 to the family of a dump truck driver crushed last December by a front-end loader operated by a city employee.

    Pablo R. Femenias, 52, of Tampa died about 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 28. He was driving a Mack dump truck for Wiggins Hauling and had just picked up a load of debris from a city loading station next to the wastewater treatment plant on Hooker's Point....

    This aerial image from 10News WTSP shows the scene at a city of Tampa loading station where dump truck driver Pablo R. Femenias was crushed by a front end loader driven by a city employee on Dec. 28, 2016.
  6. NAACP president foreshadows issues in 2019 Tampa mayor's race


    TAMPA — Tampa's next election for mayor is 18 months away, but the president of the Hillsborough County Branch NAACP offered a glimpse Friday of a couple of possible facets of the campaign.

    First, if Jane Castor runs for mayor as expected, she will get some criticism about the thousands of tickets Tampa police officers wrote to black bicycle riders when she was chief.

    "To this day, we have never received an apology from the Tampa Police Department," the NAACP's Yvette Lewis told about 75 people at Café con Tampa, a weekly political discussion group....

    NAACP Hillsborough Branch president Yvette Lewis speaks Friday morning to Caf?ˆ con Tampa, a weekly political discussion group.
  7. Tampa not alone in eyeing highly treated waste water as possible drinking water source


    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay area has a long history of local governments jockeying to control sources of water, but not water into which people have pooped.

    That could change.

    Tampa and Hillsborough County both want to take reclaimed water — essentially, highly treated wastewater that's nearly pure enough to drink — and put it to a new use. For Tampa, this would mean taking several extra steps to purify the water further and adding it to its drinking water supply, something already done from California to Israel....

    Chlorinated water flows at the Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, which discharges 55 million gallons of treated wastewater into Tampa Bay every day.
  8. Christine Burdick retiring after 15 years leading Tampa Downtown Partnership

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Downtown Partnership president and CEO Christine Burdick is retiring after a 15-year run that saw the city's urban core take some big steps along the path from dead zone to playground.

    Burdick, 68, plans to focus on special projects through her retirement on Jan. 1, with chief operating officer Lynda Remund helping manage day-to-day operations at the nonprofit partnership....

    Christine Burdick has worked as president and CEO of the nonprofit Tampa Downtown Partnership since April 2002. EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN   |   Times (2011)
  9. Port Tampa Bay sets record with $55.4 million in operating revenue in 2017


    TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay posted its biggest operating revenues ever this year — $55.4 million — beating its previous record from two years ago.

    The total reflects revenue solely generated by port operations, not property tax revenue or grants, officials said.

    The increase for the 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, was driven by growth in cruise ship business, where the number of cruises sailing out of Port Tampa Bay rose 26 percent, but also in other areas....

    Passengers wait to catch rides outside Cruise Terminal 3 after disembarking from The Carnival Paradise at Port Tampa Bay earlier this year. Growth in cruise ship business, expanded leases and shipping of commodities like petroleum, cement, phosphate and steel helped generate a record $55.4 million in operating revenues for the port during the 2017 fiscal year. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
  10. Tampa City Council moves ahead with new rules for 5G wireless antennas, but blasts Legislature because it can't do more

    Local Government

    TAMPA — The City Council on Thursday moved ahead with proposals to minimize the visual clutter created on city streets by the next generation of wireless antennas, many as small as a pizza box, but some as big as a family-sized refrigerator.

    But before it voted, the council complained that the Legislature passed a law this spring that pre-empts the city's authority regulate many aspects of where new 5G wireless antennas will go, and thus, they said, to be responsive to residents' concerns about their impact on neighborhood aesthetics....

    Tampa officials expect the spread of 5G wireless technology to result in a a flood of applications to put new small cell antennas and other equipment on poles like this one, many of them in the city's right of way. This pole is in Orlando, and the equipment shown here did not meet the city of Orlando's code for small cell antennaes at the time it was installed. It later was changed to meet the code.
  11. Online poll helps Tampa leaders know what people are thinking about


    TAMPA — A city of Tampa online survey of the public's priorities for the next 18 months rated improving streets and easing flooding as the top priority of nearly 89 percent of respondents.

    Nearly tied for second were police-community relations and transportation options, including light rail. Both were rated as important by nearly 75 percent of those surveyed.

    The lowest priorities: additional workforce housing (32.3 percent) and keeping the Tampa Bay Rays in the area (39.4 percent)....

    Kenneth Jones helps a driver whose BMW stalled in front of his house on W Azeele and S Occident streets in Tampa.
  12. Harry Cohen: Political tide will turn toward compromise — and Tampa is going to need it


    With only a few hours’ sleep separating him from a 1:30 a.m. adjournment of the City Council meeting, Harry Cohen said Friday that this year’s messy end to Tampa’s budget process foreshadows both the challenges and the promise of the way city politics is changing....

    Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen
  13. In marathon meeting, Tampa City Council further trims Bob Buckhorn’s property tax increase


    It wasn’t easy, quick or pretty, but the Tampa City Council voted early Friday morning to make another reduction to Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s proposed property tax increase for 2018....

    The Tampa City Council was working into the night Thursday on the city budget for 2018.
  14. Tampa's budget discussion scrambled by last-minute negotiations

    Local Government

    TAMPA — City Hall's budget-making process got a lot more complicated and maybe more uncertain Thursday night.

    Council members voted 4-3 to reject the property tax rate that they had tentatively approved last week and were working into the evening to come up with a new tax rate on which to base the city's $900-plus million budget for 2018. Voting against the proposed tax rate were Yvonne Yolie Capin, Mike Suarez, Guido Maniscalco and Harry Cohen....

  15. David Straz forming committee to explore possible run for Tampa mayor in 2019


    TAMPA — Banker, philanthropist and patron of the arts David A. Straz Jr. said Thursday that he soon will announce the formation of an exploratory committee to help him decide whether to run for mayor of Tampa in 2019.

    Straz also plans to open a bank account to help the committee in its work, but says it will be months before he announces whether he'll run.

    "I'm thinking about it now," Straz told the Tampa Bay Times. "I'm exploring the possibility. I won't have a decision on that until about the first of the year."...

    Retired banker and philanthropist David Straz Jr. is forming an exploratory committee and says he expects to decide around the first of next year whether to run for mayor of Tampa in 2019. JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times (2016)