1. Business

Demolition begins on wing of Channelside Bay Plaza, making way for Water Street Tampa (w/video)

A pedestrian bridge in the southwest wing of Channelside Bay Plaza was demolished in Tampa on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. [Gabriella Angotti-Jones | Times]
Published Oct. 18, 2017

TAMPA — The original developers of Channelside Bay Plaza at first wanted the name of the complex to include the word "Garrison." That would have fit, because the center turned out to be fort-like, inwardly focused and unwelcoming.

Now, 17 years after it opened, one wing of Channelside Bay Plaza is being demolished to re-open that space and, a new development team hopes, reshape visitors' perceptions of the place.

Once the southwest wing is gone, it will make way for part of Water Street Tampa, the massive $3 billion redevelopment project being launched by Strategic Property Partners.

"It opens up the waterfront," said Jim Shimberg, executive vice president and general counsel for SPP, the joint venture between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates' private capital fund, Cascade Investment. "We create some activity down there. That's been the idea from the beginning."

The southwest wing being demolished over the next couple of weeks once was home to Stump's Supper Club, Howl at the Moon, Bennigan's, Margarita Mama's, and, more recently, Hablo Taco, Thai Thani and Oishi Sushi & Hibachi Grill — now all closed.

Still open, however, are Channelside businesses in the plaza's other wings, including Splitsville, Cold Stone Creamery, Hooters, Precinct Pizza and Wet Willie's frozen daquiri bar.

In the near term, the space created by the demolition could become a waterfront park of a little less than an acre. Overlooking the Ybor Turning Basin, it's expected to feature a small stage, an "outdoor lounge" seating area and spaces for pop-up bars and restaurants housed in re-purposed shipping containers.

"We'd like to get it open before the NHL All-Star Weekend" on Jan. 27 and 28, Shimberg said.

Looking a little further out, Strategic Property Partners is trying to recruit a broader mix of office and retail tenants for the rest of Channelside Bay Plaza. SPP has its own offices there, has leased space to Suffolk Construction and brought in the offices of Tampa Bay Wave, a nonprofit accelerator for new tech companies. SPP spokeswoman Ali Glisson said an announcement could come in a few weeks about a new, non-theater tenant for the space that Channelside Cinemas left five years ago.

In the long run, Strategic Property Partners has considered redeveloping the Channelside Bay Plaza site completely, though Shimberg said the plans continue to evolve. A video that the company released in August shows the Channelside space with some retail, but on a smaller scale and in a more park-like setting.

A GLIMPSE OF THE BIG PICTURE: Water Street Tampa unveils video showing downtown's transformation

Strategic Property Partners CEO James Nozar has talked about creating a more open east-west connection between the Florida Aquarium and the area around the Tampa Bay History Center and Amalie Arena.

"The aquarium would like to be able to take advantage of the Riverwalk, as would we, which dead-ends down at the history center," Nozar said. "There's a natural pathway along the water, but you can't physically make that walk today. If you stand right here" — indicating a spot closer to the aquarium — "and look at the arena, there's 18 obstacles in the way."

Contact Richard Danielson at or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times


  1. Philanthropist David Straz Jr. and his wife Catherine celebrate in March after he advanced into the Tampa mayoral run-off election. Mr. Straz has died at the age of 77. TAILYR IRVINE  |  Times
    The former mayoral candidate who lost to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor earlier this year, died Monday while on a fishing trip in Homosassa. His name, and legacy, are integral to Tampa.
  2. The Chick-fil-A on Dale Mabry in South Tampa. The company announced Monday it will no longer donate to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
    The groups have faced criticism for their opposition to same-sex marriage.
  3. Candice Anderson, left, and Alsace Walentine, co-owners of Tombolo Books, rearrange books as attendees of the Times Festival of Reading leave the University Student Center behind them. [Jack Evans | Times]
    The shop plans to open next to Black Crow on First Ave. S before the new year.
  4. An opened capsule containing Kratom. The Clearwater City Council was confronted by dozens of concerned citizens at a recent meeting who urged them not to ban the herbal supplement. Times
    “Our recommendation right now is, we don’t think there’s a need to regulate it.”
  5. BayCare Health Systems now plans to build a $200 million, 60-bed hospital along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The company previously planned to build on 111 acres further north adjacent to Interstate 75 and an interchange to built at Overpass Road. Shown his the main entrance to BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital North on Van Dyke Road in Lutz. Times
    BayCare plans a $200 million, 60-bed hospital on land it owns along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
  6. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.
  7. [Getty Images] FLUXFACTORY  |  Getty Images
    Under the circumstances spelled out here, the advice columnist says Mom has few desirable options.
  8. Dusty Hill (left) and Billy Gibbons (right) from ZZ Top perform prior to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the St. Pete Times Forum in 2010. A ZZ Top concert in 2018 was the subject of a scathing Clearwater city audit of the Parks and Recreation Special Events division. KEVIN HOWE  |  Times archives
    The Parks and Recreation Department failed to keep sales receipts, invoices and other records of a 2018 concert.
  9. Dade City wants to put its planned bicycle hub in a city park near Church and Eighth streets adjoining the trailhead of the Roy Hardy Trail. The land already has been designated as the future home of a splash pad. Dade City
    A planned welcome center for cycling enthusiasts originally had been slated for a historic train depot
  10. Frances Werner-Watkins Julie Rinaldi
    News and notes on local businesses