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Rally echoes concerns about possible West Tampa redevelopment | News

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Rally echoes concerns about possible West Tampa redevelopment
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Inside the North Boulevard Homes public housing complex, memories are etched in the sidewalk and in the minds of current and former residents.

"We all went to school together," says Daytra Franklin, who lived in the complex and frequently visits family who still reside there. "We all grew up together."

The nearly 700 apartments sit on coveted land near the Hillsborough River. That land could offer 40 acres of development if the complex is demolished.

Nothing about demolition has been decided. Right now, it's an idea that's been thrown around by the city, and Washington-based nonprofit Urban Land Institute has visited the area to look at the area's potential for development.

But community leaders in West Tampa are already coming together in hopes of creating a louder, unified voice.

"This is more than a community fight. This is a fight against injustice!" Dwight Bolden shouted during a rally on Saturday. As his voice echoed against storefronts on Main Street in West Tampa, his words were met with enthusiastic applause by residents and demonstrators with Occupy Tampa.

"We want progress, we want growth, we want prosperity in this community," Bolden continued. "But when you're going to bring growth, you're going to bring progress, you're going to bring prosperity to our community and don't include us? No. That's not what we want."

North Boulevard Homes is owned by the Tampa Housing Authority, which recently told residents in a letter that if redevelopment happened, there would be alternative housing offered with the same rent structure. The letter did not discuss specifically where or what the housing would be. And that's what worries some in West Tampa as they wonder about the fate of the complex, and the fate of the families who live there.

"They need more education, love, and peace to be in here," Franklin said.

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