Tampa, FL -- We're finally getting a glimpse at what downtown Tampa may look like in the next five to seven years.
Developer Jeff Vinik, who owns the Tampa Bay Lightning, unveiled his vision for a re-developed Channelside district on Wednesday. Vinik credits others before him with having started the process, but he says his plan would tie together the parts, so to speak, making Tampa "the nation's next great waterfront city."
After quietly, and often secretly acquiring parcels of land in downtown Tampa, Vinik says it's a relief to finally unveil his vision publicly.
"One of my personal, main objectives is to share with the rest of the country -- with corporations specifically -- what a great area this is to live, work, play and stay," said Vinik.
Vinik's plan would transform downtown Tampa Bay, connecting existing assets like Channelside, Amelie Arena and the Convention Center using new development on 24 acres.
"I deal with developers all the time. This is not a pipe dream, this is real," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Vinik unveiled his vision in front of a who's-who crowd of 500 at his newly acquired Marriott Waterside Hotel.
The plan? About $1 billion of development, Three million square feet, including three new office and hotel towers, a USF med school and heart Institute, 500 residential units, and 5,000 additional parking spaces.
What's in it for the rest of us?
In all, the creation of an estimated 6,700 jobs, and an annual addition of $35 million in tax revenues.
Economic ripples "that go throughout the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County and the entire region," said Rob Canton with Vinik's Strategic Property Partners.
Groundbreaking for the projects is set for this coming summer. Construction would begin in about a year. All of it would make the waterfront more attractive to the "millennials," says Vinik, who want to move back to a more-livable urban core.
Part of that is tying the waterfront together by expanding the trolley system, and expanding entertainment at Amelie Arena, home to Vinik's team, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Noticeably absent from the plan, however, is a baseball stadium.
"We have such a great vision for what's going on here, we're just really focusing, and not getting into the business of the Tampa Bay Rays," said Vinik.
Vinik says his group's profit goal is minimal. When he reached 50 years old, he said, he started to concern himself less with making money and more with leaving his mark and he believes he can do that in Tampa.
Vinik is also modest enough to know that will require cooperation from politicians, developers, and insight from the public. In fact, they have set up a website encouraging people to reach out to them and tell them what they want to see in Channelside's future.