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InVision Tampa seeks ideas to improve Nebraska Avenue

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Inside Southern Brewing & Winemaking, one of several new hip businesses along Nebraska Avenue Inside Southern Brewing & Winemaking, one of several new hip businesses along Nebraska Avenue
Ernie Locke and his wife opened Ella's restaurant on Nebraska Ave. in 2009. Ernie Locke and his wife opened Ella's restaurant on Nebraska Ave. in 2009.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Tampa residents have a chance to help decide what they want the city to look like in the future. InVision Tampa is seeking ideas this week on how to improve the blighted corridor along Nebraska Avenue from Hillsborough Avenue south to downtown.

"I want this to be their plan. So we're going out to the community to get their input," explained Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "We want to know what they're hoping for in their neighborhood. What excites them? What amenities they need and how we can, from the governmental side, make that come to fruition."

When Ernie Locke and his wife decided to open their eclectic restaurant, Ella's, in 2009 some people questioned their location choice.

"Everybody thought we were crazy opening up on Nebraska, but we weren't afraid. It's a great neighborhood," said Locke.

Locke is part of a growing community of hip new businesses in Seminole Heights. Kelly Fenstermacher and her husband opened Southern Brewing & Winemaking last year just down the street from Ella's.

"The neighborhood has just soaked it up. So it just seemed like a really ideal place for us to get into," said Fenstermacher.  "I think this is quickly becoming a destination point for people because we have all the eclectic businesses here, the little one offs mom and pops that you can't find in other areas in town."

Fenstermacher attended InVision Tampa's first community workshop on Tuesday and said lots of great ideas were brought to the table. Beautification efforts top her priority list for the project.

"Build some medians and do some landscaping up and down the road to help push pedestrian traffic, bicycles that kind of thing," she explained.

Locke would also like to see a more pedestrian friendly approach, including more crosswalks and public parking lots. He believes that could encourage more quality businesses to move in.

"I live in this neighborhood and I like this neighborhood and I want it to get better," said Locke.

Buckhorn said the feedback from business owners and residents will serve a big role in the creation of a master plan for revitalization.

"This will be the blueprint for the development of our urban core for the next 25 years. Tampa's never had one. We desperately needed one and we're well on our way to getting one," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Thursday's InVision Tampa workshop starts at 6 p.m. at The Children's Board at 1002 East Palm Ave.

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