Tampa is home to historical monuments like the Bustillo-Diaz Cigar Factory, Ybor Square, and many others. Although, some of these landmarks are being changed and, in their place, buildings are being built used for commercial use such as apartments, gas stations or bars.
Currently there are two cigar factories in Tampa that are getting reused for marketable purposes. The Bustillo-Diaz factory and the Pendas-Alvarez factory.
The Bustillo-Diaz factory was constructed in 1902 and it was operational until the 1960’s. It was brought from Havana, Cuba by the Bustillo brothers themselves. Since the end of its operations in 1960, it’s been abandoned, but the West Tampa Development Group are planning to turn the building into an apartment complex that will be called Cigar Lofts.
“That’s not something you see so much in Tampa. We think that’s going to be a unique product,” said Omar Garcia, a member of the team.
The apartments are expected to be very popular with coming residents. The convenient location brings them close to downtown Tampa, employment centers, and educational centers such as USF.
The Pendas-Alvarez factory is known for its iconic 120-foot water and clock tower. The company Wine Stream Inc is building a winery and a bar inside. They expect the area to be more popular in the future and that the income from customers will be rewarding.
These renovations are all great from the perspective of the present day, but some people think that remaking these old buildings is taking away some of the history that lies in their walls.
“Honestly, the apartment that they’re building in place of the factory sounds cool, but it’s been around for a really long time. Maybe it would be better if they took down a newer one to keep the time that the factory carries,” said Elias Pilman, a senior at Steinbrenner Highschool.
The Bustillo-Diaz factory is the second oldest cigar factory that still stands in Tampa. The first being the El Reloj factory that is 111 years old and is run by J.C. Newman. Newman is headquartered in that specific factory, with many others over America.
Though these revitalizations do spark arguments among the people of Tampa, there are some renovations that bring joy to everyone.
The Tampa Riverwalk used to be a simple trail for tourists to walk when they came to Tampa, but there wasn’t as much to see as there is now. The Riverwalk began its revitalization in September of 2020. The plan was to expand the Riverwalk so there was more to do and see, though its effect was much greater than anticipated.
It gave small business owners the opportunity to place their stores on the walk, getting more recognition and customers to support their businesses. It also created a diverse community where people don’t have to travel far to work, live, and play.
Dalia Talmor, a junior at Steinbrenner High School, has been to the Riverwalk on occasion and enjoys going. “Me and my family like to go whenever we can. There’s always a lot to do and mini stores like gift shops and bakeries. I think they’re pretty cute and overall, really cool to just go in and look around,” said Talmor.
The Riverwalk and other renovations have a great impact on the citizens of Tampa and change the city we see into something different and new.
Cody Castro//Staff Writer