TAMPA — Tampa's new $7.4 million Water Works Park will open on Aug. 12, with a grand opening celebration on Aug. 16 featuring fireworks, food trucks, live entertainment and children's activities.
Announcing the plans Thursday, Mayor Bob Buckhorn described the park as "transformative" for Tampa Heights and the city's urban core.
"It's another point of connection with the Hillsborough River and will be a space for entertainment and activity," he said.
The 5-acre park at 1710 N Highland Ave., near the historic Tampa Armature Works warehouse, will include an extension of the Riverwalk, an 8,500-square-foot dog park, an overlook shaped like a ship's prow next to the Hillsborough River and a splash playground with a giant water bucket that will drench the kids below.
It also includes a restored freshwater spring that once again flows to the Hillsborough River, allowing fish and manatees to swim into a large basin inside the park. Already, manatees have been spotted lolling in the pond.
Once permits are approved, the city will install a kayak launch, eight boat slips and a water taxi stop.
Though smaller than the one at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Water Works' festival lawn still will be big enough for art shows and food festivals. There will be an event pavilion with a stage, built with support from the downtown Rotary Club, that will be positioned at the south end of the park, facing inward, so that the audience sees downtown Tampa's skyline in the background.
A playground will have a rope climb designed like a ship's rigging. And park structures will have red brick and the same slope to their roofs as the park's soon-to-open neighbor, Ulele Native-Inspired Food and Spirits, which restaurateur Richard Gonzmart has spent $5 million to create inside the city's old pumphouse.
The city's Aug. 16 grand opening is scheduled to start at 5 p.m., with fireworks at 9 p.m.