First signs of Tampa's transformation

First signs of Tampa's transformation

The transformation of Downtown Tampa by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik: you've been hearing about it for more than a year now. Now 10News WTSP has learned this week, you'll see the very first signs that the project is really happening.

Until now, it's only been presentations, plans, and pretty computer graphics. Promises of a $2 billion development that will bring money, attention, and thousands of jobs to the Tampa Bay area.

But Tuesday, it gets real on an empty lot a block away from Amalie Arena.

"I think it's the singular most important event that has occurred in Downtown Tampa in 20 years," Tampa Mayor, Bob Buckhorn told me Sunday.

"The decision to move the med school and to move the USF Heart Institute into the urban core is gonna drive our economy for generations to come."

Buckhorn will be joined at the corner of Channelside Drive and Meridian Avenue by Lightning team owner and project developer Jeff Vinik, and University of South Florida President, Judy Genshaft.

They will dedicate the site of USF's new location for its Morsani College of Medicine, along with a brand-new Heart Institute. It kicks off a boom of building -- places to work, live, and play -- on 25 acres around the arena.

"Over the next five years, this downtown is gonna radically change. You will not recognize this place five years from now," Buckhorn promised.

After Tuesday, you'll see signs at that site that show USF's plans. Buckhorn says within 12 to 18 months, construction cranes will be up in several spots around the arena in the area realtors are calling "Vinikville."

And USF's new medical facility should start checking in its first patients four years from right now.

What is set to grow from that dirt lot will transform the Channel District, the City of Tampa, and really all of Tampa Bay.

"More restaurants, more bars, more retail, more hotels, more museums. Everything is focused in the urban core, which benefits the entire Bay Area," Buckhorn said.

And it all starts with a ceremony on a patch of grass and gravel Tuesday morning.



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