TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) – Developers in charge of designing plans for a revamped Channelside district in downtown Tampa presented their plan to Port Tampa Bay’s board of directors on Tuesday. Included in the project is a plan to demolish Channelside Bay Plaza, a 15-year-old shopping center sitting right on the waterfront.
“We see it as an incredible opportunity, a really unique opportunity to take advantage of the waterfront but also respect the working nature of the waterfront,” said James Nozar, CEO of Strategic Property Partners, the firm in charge of the project. “The existing facility, which is only approximately fifteen years old, has difficulties. It was built at a different time and retail world is very quickly changing.”
That old design “turned its back to the water” according to Nozar, a typical feature in similar retail and entertainment-based facilities built at the time. SPP said it wants to focus on the location’s waterfront possibilities by creating open spaces and mixed-use development oriented toward the waterfront.
“I’ve been hearing it for a while now,” said Lit Premium Cigar Lounge Owner Bryan Prieto when asked about plans to demolish the plaza. “I’m fine with them knocking it down, I just would like to have a location here when they do knock it down, that’s all.”
“I would really like to be here when this place booms, I’ve been here through the worst, I’ve been here for years through the worst so I’d like to be here when it actually takes off,” added Prieto. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that, when they do get everything situated this place is going to be a hot spot.”
SPP visited a number of cities including San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., and Seattle to look at different waterfront designs before deciding how they wanted the Tampa project to look. The $3 billion project could break ground as early as next year, and if everything goes according to schedule, Channelside Bay Plaza could be demolished by the winter of 2018.