Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

M. Martin Bosman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca Johns, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Seth Cavello, Ph.D.


Capitalism, City-Making, Exclusionary Developments, Neoliberalism


In the age of “global urbanism” (Sheppard et al 2015; Chen and Kanna 2013), we are witnessing a markedly increased preference for mega-gentrification policies and projects by public officials seeking to revitalize deindustrialized and abandoned landscapes within their cities. The goal of this study is to describe how neoliberal public and private actors and institutions in the City of Tampa, specifically along the newly minted “Water Street” near the old Channel District of downtown, have adopted the discourses and practices of “fast policy” (Peck and Theodore 2015), “rule by aesthetics” (Ghertner 2010) and “worlding” (Ong and Roy 2011). To that end, I will describe how the putative economic revitalization of downtown Tampa, guided by global city aesthetic regimes (Patterson 2016) and the culturally and politically popular vernacular of ‘live, work, play’ is being justified in the mainstream media. Through a combination of semi-structured, interviews, ethnographic observations, literature and local newspaper reviews, the study explores how Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates’s multi-billion dollar “Water Street” urban revitalization project in downtown Tampa is steadily producing the global ectoplasm of a successfully revitalized city. This disposition towards global urban aesthetics and “iconic projects” (Sklair 2017) based on “fast policy” has diminished local government efforts to address the more mundane challenges of urban revitalization such as affordable housing and inclusive community services and recreational amenities. Furthermore, the study also intends to explore how corporate developers’ uses of the aesthetics of urban sustainability function to legitimize exclusionary urban transformations. A primary context for this study is InVision Tampa (2012), the urban revitalization agenda introduced by Tampa’s former mayor, Bob Buckhorn. The stated goal of InVision Tampa was to: “not settle anymore …[but] to win [and] not to finish second anymore” to other U.S. cities (Buckhorn 2012). To date, ongoing economic redevelopment projects in and around downtown Tampa have unleashed new economic and cultural opportunities for some, while creating social and environmental threats for others, notably the working class and poor communities of color.