A 25-acre, $36 million redevelopment of a Hillsborough River park that had fallen into deep disrepair, Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, completed in 2018. It was designed and constructed as the first project in the City of Tampa’s plan to regenerate the West Tampa riverfront and historic African-American and Latino neighborhoods.
Civitas conducted 40 one-on-one meetings with neighborhood leaders and held five interactive public meetings, responding to a population that had been devastated in the wake of 1960s “urban renewal” and a once-loved park that had become a symbol of racial strife.
The design team’s amenities-rich plan met the community’s desire for a grand space with views of the city for picnicking and gathering, with state-of-the-art playground and splash pad; and first-class basketball, tennis and football facilities. The new River Center building designed by W Architecture and Landscape Architecture incorporates a city-run boathouse with kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, dragon boats and sculls below and a community center above.
The park design reactivates a crucial historical connection between West Tampa and the Hillsborough River, providing residents with the first public access to the water in many decades. In the process, Civitas reengineered the river, moving the seawall to create a quiet cove for paddling instruction, protected by a new pedestrian wharf and a floating dock that has become a prized spot for sitting and watching paddlers, racing shells, passing boats and dolphins, as well as a weekend stop for a water taxi.
In addition to its community-first design approach, the park provides resiliency and sustainability to the riverfront. More than 100 pre-existing live oak trees were retained, enhanced by raised walkways that invite a nature-in-the-city experience while protecting sensitive roots. A continuous waterfront quality filtration trench doubles as a placemaking feature and primary design element that follows the edge of the Great Lawn and offers a backdrop for the Grand Promenade while capturing stormwater onsite into vegetative swales. Likewise, the River Center’s distinctively swooping roof design channels runoff into a lush rain garden, filtering through landscape and plant material to control the water’s return to the river.