TAMPA — The old Tampa Tribune building has a date with the wrecking ball, but the new property owner is planning to save the shuttered newspaper's two iconic signs.
Related Group development manager Arturo Peña said Wednesday that the company will likely spend about $50,000 to recycle each sign into works of art for the high-end apartment complex that will be built on the waterfront property.
"We have two curators on our staff so we coordinate with them and we'll be in touch with artists to create art installations to repurpose the signs to incorporate them in the project," he said.
The Miami-based developer will soon oversee the removal of the signs, which are in front of the building and mounted on the building's side, and move them into storage for the time being.
The 123-year-old newspaper was closed in May 2016 after it was purchased by the Tampa Bay Times.
News of the signs' preservation was a relief for former Tampa Tribune entertainment editor Kim MacCormack.
"That does give me some solace," she said. "The Tribune was around for more than 100 years and it's nice for them to acknowledge that site and its history."
MacCormack said she now works in a high-rise building where she has a direct view of the building where she worked for 36 years.
"It's kind of like watching somebody die," she said of the demolition.
The building has been being prepared for demolition for months. This week, an excavator began chewing away at the loading docks in the part of the building that still contains the printing press. Workers will partially deconstruct the building and then remove the press in smaller pieces, said Steven Guzzon, Related Group's construction manager for the project.
The construction project is a challenging one, Peña explained. Construction workers are going to be preserving a live oak on the property, which will become the centerpiece of a courtyard for the complex. The site is also home to a roosting site for a colony of roughly 100 American white ibis birds, he said. The contractors are charged with protecting the site and have plans to improve the birds' habitat.
Groundbreaking for the new complex on the site is scheduled for this summer, Peña said.
The new apartments will include an eight-story building along the river, plus a four-story building around the courtyard. There will also be a nine-story parking garage with 710 spaces.
The property has been approved for a restaurant or sandwich shop, but Peña said it's unlikely the property will have enough foot traffic or parking spaces to accommodate that kind of business.
"It would need to be a destination and the access might be challenging," he said.
The property will have a "contemporary beach-house feel" to attract well-off millennials working downtown, including doctors and graduate students. Rent "will be amongst the highest in Tampa," Peña said.
The first units are expected to become available in about two years.
Contact Alli Knothe at email@example.com. Follow @KnotheA.