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2018-01-26 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


January 26, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Tampa’s Bryan Glazer Family JCC racks up awards for design, construction

Since opening Dec. 8, 2016, the Bryan Glazer Family JCC has not only become a community hub, but the facility has picked up accolades for those who helped conceptualize and renovate the historic Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in West Tampa.

Tampa JCCs and Federation officials say it cost $31 million to transform the long-vacant and aging building – it opened the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 – into today’s vibrant multi-use facility, which has been called “the communal heartbeat” and a “YMCA on steroids.”

The Federation agreed from the start to preserve much of the artdeco exterior. A leaky roof was replaced and scores of windows with small panes and aging frames were restored to keep the exterior look, yet weatherproofed to today’s standards. The armory’s seal, embedded in the floor and emblazoned with the motto Never a Step Backward, were retained. Other efforts were made to create displays highlighting the building’s past as a venue for speeches by President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, as well as the many professional wrestling bouts and musical concerts.

A new grand entrance was built and air conditioning was added. An elevated jogging track was created around a new gymnasium and a large variety of fitness and exercise equipment was added. The new creation also includes a premier events center, stage for lectures and performing arts and screens for showing movies. A café, aquatics center, arts center, and agency offices are also part of the new JCC.

At the 6th Annual CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Tampa Bay Excellence Awards in November, FleischmanGarcia Architecture, the architect of record for the JCC project, and Behar- Peteranecz Architecture, the firm that designed the center’s Jeff and Penny Vinik Grand Entry and other parts of the facility, were both honored with the Exterior Architecture Excellence award.

The same evening, Clearwaterbased Creative Contractors Inc., took home a Construction Renovation Excellence award for their work on the Glazer JCC. The construction firm also received an Excellence in Construction award for the project from the Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc.-Florida Gulf Coast Chapter at a separate event.

At the 35th Annual Planning & Design awards in October, Fleischman-Garcia received the Jan Abell Award from the Hillsborough Planning Commission for the Glazer JCC’s outstanding contributions to the community. The judges loved the adaptive reuse of the armory and how the new look, both inside and out, incorporates historic preservation.

Capping off its award-winning first year, the Glazer JCC placed third in the 2017 Florida’s People’s Choice awards, sponsored by the Florida Foundation for Architecture.

David Scher, a commercial real estate developer and member of the Tampa JCCs and Federation’s Leadership Council, was there to help receive most of the awards. As lay chairman, Scher was heavily involved with the project from its initial inception.

He, along with Tampa JCCs and Federation CEO Gary Gould, worked with pencils and paper at Scher’s dining room table on a Sunday afternoon more than five years ago and developed the original conceptual framework the project was designed around.

“It was a very ambitious idea,” noted Sol Fleischman Jr., chairman and CEO of Fleischman-Garcia. “We helped put together a master plan, floor plan and rendering for the site, which were circulated among various influencers in the community to gauge interest in the project. There was obviously considerable excitement.”

After Scher headed the effort to negotiate the lease for the property, he and Fleischman became involved in every aspect of the project – from the design and planning to the construction documents and administration. They also worked closely with Gould, Jack Ross, the former executive director of the JCCs, and Sally Benjamin, the organization’s chief financial and administrative officer, until the JCC opened its doors.

Creative Contractors Inc. and its vice president, Josh Bomstein, were brought on as the general contractor to help the building’s renovation and construction come to fruition and according to Gould, “did a remarkable job.”

Bryan Glazer, who the facility is named in honor of, has had a longterm interest in architecture and he also contributed several innovative concepts that were used in designing the facility. “Bryan’s ideas were very creative and extremely helpful,” Gould said.

When recently reached for comment, both Scher and Fleischman reflected on the Glazer JCC in its completed state.

“How lucky are we to be surrounded by such wonderful art at the JCC, from the remarkable Art Deco armory building to the brand-new Roberta M. Golding Center for Visual Arts and the exciting new art collection that adorns the facility’s walls,” Scher said. “How does an individual get such an opportunity in a lifetime to contribute something of this magnitude? It was a blessing.”

A lifelong native of Tampa, Fleischman has many fond memories of the armory building during its previous heyday as a premier event venue throughout the 1950s-‘60s. “I’m so pleased I was able to be a part of helping the building continue for at least another 75 years.”

The Glazer JCC is located at 522 N. Howard Ave. For more information about programs and services, go to or call (813) 575-5900.

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