As County Administrator, Fred Karl arranged to purchase the County Center building at a bargain price

Hillsborough County is full of inspiring, iconic, and interesting places, and there are remarkable people behind them. In this occasional series we explore namesakes of some of the county's well-known buildings, parks, and roads.

Who was Fred Karl?

Karl, 1924-2013, was a state legislator, Florida Supreme Court justice, Hillsborough County attorney and administrator, and president of Tampa General Hospital. He was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, earned a law degree at Stetson University, and served as city attorney in Tampa, Daytona Beach, and Ormond Beach, among other accomplishments. During a lifetime of public service, Karl was known as a problem solver, overcoming challenges with a steady hand. In 2000, his name was added to County Center, the seat of Hillsborough government at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd.

Fred Karl having a conversation with Beth Johnson
In 1961, Florida Reps. Beth Johnson and Fred Karl discuss legislation to increase teachers’ pay. Photo courtesy of the State Archives of Florida.

Why name County Center for him?

The 28-story building on Kennedy Boulevard was new in 1992 when Karl, as county administrator, arranged its purchase at a bargain price. The Board of County Commissioners voted to buy the skyscraper in May 1992, and County Center was fully occupied two years later. Karl also championed construction of the Tampa Bay area's first waste-to-energy facility, Amalie Arena, and George M. Steinbrenner Field, and oversaw creation of a County health plan for people in need.

About Frederick B. Karl County Center

At 375 feet, the building is among the tallest in downtown Tampa. It's curved, with an exterior façade of rose granite and bronze-tinted reflective glass, and houses 30 County departments. Before consolidating under one roof, County government's central operations were spread throughout downtown Tampa.


Last Modified: 1/30/2024, 3:37:27 PM

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