Port Tampa Bay unveils $1.5 billion vision

Port Tampa Bay Vision Plan

Tampa, FL -- Move over Jeff Vinik, you've got company; if not competition.

On Thursday, officials with Port Tampa Bay unveiled a major redevelopment plan adjacent to Vinik's Channelside development. A $1.5 billion project spread out over the next 15 years that could transform the industrial waterfront area between the Florida Aquarium and Ybor City.

It is only a vision right now, but officials stress that the vision project has been in the development phase for over a year now, and believe the plan offers Tampa and the port its best waterfront options going forward.

With cruise ships getting too big to fit under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, officials with Port Tampa Bay knew they had to reinvent themselves, and find new use for the 45 acre parcel where terminals two and six now sit.

What was unveiled on Thursday follows in the footsteps of the nation's other major waterfront communities, said Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson, "that have built their great cities around their ports."

RELATED STORY: Port Tampa Bay's vision for Channel District

Urban planners with Bermello Ajamil and Partners, who have helped other major cities find new use for their waterfront, came up with a $1.5 billion 15 year-plan to transform the Channel District's cruise and maritime industries into a multi-use development.

Waterfront parks, two hotels, and a pair of 75 story residential towers would complement offices as well as retail. The buildings would border a multi-acre waterfront park. Raised park-like walkways would allow people to move between terminals.

"What we wanted to create," said Luis Ajamil, "is that perfect balance between maintaining working waterfront where it can exist, and adding-in the urban living components to basically complete the Channelside District."

Public investment would be about $200 million through Tampa's CRA, paying for infrastructure. The return on investment? About $300 million over 25 years, plus acres of public waterfront parks.

Tampa Mayor Buckhorn called it an important link in the chain connecting Tampa's downtown communities. From Ybor city, through Channelside and up the Hillsborough river toward Seminole Heights.

By filling in the waterfront on Tampa's East side, "We create that urban environment that will be the envy of the nation," said mayor Buckhorn, "it began four years ago. It's not done, but this is a big day."

With the plan just unveiled there are no developer deals to announce yet; but Port officials predict strong demand for long-term leases on the prime waterfront parcels.

One reason for officials' optimism and strong demand is that Tampa is one of the only major waterfront cities left in the country where this sort of redevelopment still has yet to occur.

It is, an ambitious development plan, said urban developers, second in size only to the Hudson River project in New York City.

Check out some of the artist renderings of the proposal:

The port has also released some of the questions and answers for the Channel District.


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