Downtown high-rises prep for protests - FOX 13 News

Downtown high-rises prep for protests

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Downtown Tampa high-rises are heightening security for the Republican National Convention.

The M&I Bank building is already stepping up its security in anticipation of the 50,000 RNC-bound visitors.

"We're really vulnerable. We front on a street that will be one of the only open streets," said Julia Rettig of Penn-Florida Companies, which manages the building.

Despite the congestion, they still expect 60 percent of their tenants to head to the office next week. Starting Friday, they plan to shutdown all street entrances to the building. Employees will be allowed in through the building's garage. They'll then be greeted by double the security staffing of a normal week.

"We'll get even stricter, where even if you are an employee of the building, we're going to check IDs," Rettig said Thursday.

Downtown's Wells Fargo Center is also prepping for possible protests. They're just feet from the Convention Center, which will be home to 15,000 members of the media for the week.

"Because we're so close to the venue and we're behind a vehicular traffic stop, all the tenants who come through are going to have to have their cars searched," said Wells Fargo Center Property Manager Sheryl Frick.

Only a handful of the high-rise's 22 floors will be occupied during the RNC. Still, management has heightened security and held drills.

"We have practiced a lockdown with our tenants, so they understand what it means to stay in their space," Frick said Thursday.

Property managers are also keeping in close contact with Tampa Police Department and Homeland Security.

"We're really hoping for the best next week, but we are definitely preparing for possibly the worst," Rettig said.

Property managers plan to not only add to security staffing, but also to extend officers' shifts for an around-the-clock presence during the RNC.

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