Why Ybor City is turning Seventh Avenue back into a brick road (2024)

Paul Guzzo, Tampa Bay Times

Updated ·4 min read

TAMPA — About eight decades after the city of Tampa had the bricks ripped from Seventh Avenue and replaced with asphalt, Ybor City’s main thoroughfare is returning to its roots.

This month, the city will begin the process of removing the asphalt from 14 blocks of Seventh Avenue, spanning Nick Nuccio Parkway to 26th Street, and replacing it with the same types of bricks that made up that roadway through the 1960s.

But the project still has unanswered questions.

Does the city have enough inventory to handle this while maintaining other brick streets? Maybe. How much will it cost? Unknown. And is it really needed?

“Not necessarily,” said Chris Wojtowicz, who has lived in Ybor for seven years and sits on the Ybor City Community Advisory Committee. “It doesn’t have to be done. Seventh Avenue functions without bricks. But it is something that I desire as a resident.”

Ybor is a historic district, and the project “will return the roadway’s historic feel to this historic community,” said Jennifer Holton, the city’s development and economic opportunity communications coordinator. “A brick roadway will also naturally promote traffic calming and a safer roadway for everyone, and we hope to enhance the area’s walkability.”

According to the Tampa Police Department, from 2022-2023 there were 692 traffic citations on Seventh Avenue from Nick Nuccio Parkway to 22nd Street, which is home to Ybor’s stretch of bars and restaurants.

The police department provided the Tampa Bay Times with a list of those citations broken up by categories. The Times counted 19 directly related to fast driving: fleeing and eluding law enforcement, racing and unlawful speed. The Times counted another 133 that could be related to excessive speeds: a mix of improper passing, hit and runs, careless driving, following too closely and other citations.

The initial rebricking phase begins July 15 and will span Seventh Avenue from 15th Street to 17th Street. It will take up to six weeks to lay those 80,000 bricks at a cost of $434,640, which will be funded through Ybor taxes, Holton said.

There is no set timeline for completing the rest of Seventh Avenue.

“We will proceed block by block with available funding,” Holton said.

A total price is unknown since the cost could change from one phase to the next, she said. But a year ago, the city estimated it could cost $12 million to repave 14 blocks of Seventh Avenue with authentic historic bricks.

Overall, Holton said, it will take 35,000-40,000 bricks per block. That means the city could need up to 560,000 to finish the project.

Seventh Avenue was originally paved with bricks known as Augusta block, made by Georgia Vitrified Brick & Clay Company. According to the Augusta Museum of History, the now-defunct Georgia company provided bricks for more than 730 Tampa streets.

City streets were also paved with bricks made by Copeland-Inglis of Birmingham, Alabama, and the Baltimore Brick Company, both of which have since shutdown.

A mix of the three will be used for Seventh Avenue and will initially come from a city stockpile, Holton said. But those are also meant for maintaining Tampa’s current 41 miles of brick streets. Because of that, in 2019, the city told the Times they were hesitant to deplete the inventory for Seventh Avenue.

That is no longer holding up the project, despite the city being uncertain of how many bricks are in that stockpile.

“We don’t have an exact estimation,” Holton said. “It’s one large pile at the port that is regularly replenished ... Bricks are stored and deposited at the port from all sorts of projects throughout the city, and this project will happen over time, block by block and brick by brick as funded.”

Around 30 years ago, the city sold 130,000 bricks at 30 cents apiece to Winter Park near Orlando, according to Times archives. Each brick was worth as much as $4.

Now, the city seeks to be on the other side of such a deal.

There “doesn’t appear to be any purchases of bricks for street restorations during this administration,” Holton said. But “there are different municipalities within the state that have the same type of brick in surplus. That is an option if we have to find bricks outside of our stockpile.”

Why Ybor City is turning Seventh Avenue back into a brick road (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kerri Lueilwitz

Last Updated:

Views: 5999

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kerri Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1992-10-31

Address: Suite 878 3699 Chantelle Roads, Colebury, NC 68599

Phone: +6111989609516

Job: Chief Farming Manager

Hobby: Mycology, Stone skipping, Dowsing, Whittling, Taxidermy, Sand art, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Kerri Lueilwitz, I am a courageous, gentle, quaint, thankful, outstanding, brave, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.