1. Real Estate

Channelside Bay Plaza to be remade as Sparkman Wharf, with waterfront lawn, beer garden, outdoor dining and loft-style offices

Developers for Water Street Tampa are renaming Channelside Bay Plaza as Sparkman Wharf and plan to open a 1-acre recreational lawn with outdoor dining and a beer garden in October. The new amenities will be in the place of a wing of the old Channelside building that was demolished to open the project up to the waterfront. [Rendering via Strategic Property Partners.]
Developers for Water Street Tampa are renaming Channelside Bay Plaza as Sparkman Wharf and plan to open a 1-acre recreational lawn with outdoor dining and a beer garden in October. The new amenities will be in the place of a wing of the old Channelside building that was demolished to open the project up to the waterfront. [Rendering via Strategic Property Partners.]
Published Jul. 26, 2018

TAMPA — Goodbye, Channelside Bay Plaza.

Hello, Sparkman Wharf.

The developers of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa project on Thursday dropped the veil on their plans for their makeover of the under-performing Channelside Bay Plaza mixed-use shopping center.

Gone will be the movie theaters and one whole wing of the building, which was focused inward on a circular courtyard as opposed to outward toward the best feature of the location, Tampa's waterfront.

In their place will be a new space for outdoor dining and events, new uses for the rest of the project and a new name that harkens back to how Tampa became a working port in the first place.

When complete in early 2020, Sparkman Wharf will include about 180,000 square feet of office lofts, 65,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, plus a 1-acre outdoor space with a lawn, outdoor dining and beer garden.

Let's break down the outdoor features, which are expected to open in October:

First, the name: The place is named for former U.S. Rep. Stephen M. Sparkman, who in 1905 engineered a congressional appropriation of $448,350 (more than $12 million in current dollars) to dredge a channel for Tampa's port — a political victory that would shape Tampa for a century.

The lawn: It will be open to the waterfront and include a stage to be programmed with local performers by the organizers of the Gasparilla Music Festival, plus an LED screen that's about 10-by-17 feet to show Tampa Bay Lightning games, other games, movies at dusk, even TED talks.

The dining garden: This sounds something like the Heights Public Market at the Armature Works, but moved outside.

Developers promise large shade trees and 10 well-known local chefs and restaurateurs who will experiment with menus and street-food concepts not found anywhere else in the area.

Each will be housed in a re-purposed shipping container, with murals paying tribute to natural Florida and painted by Pep Rally studios of Tampa. Two of the 10 concepts will be Foundation Coffee and Whatever Pops (popsicles and other cold treats).

"Happy-dancing in our kitchen," Whatever Pops owner Steve McGlocklin said in a statement released through the developers. Foundation Coffee owner Jason Smith said the idea behind Sparkman Wharf — a unique place for one-on-one connections — is "why we are committed to this project."

The beer garden: Run by Joel Bigham and Daniel K. Charley, the Fermented Reality Biergarten will be an open-air space with more than 30 taps with an emphasis on Florida craft beer alongside wine, iced tea and natural sodas. The 3,000-square-foot covered bar will offer shade, outdoor televisions and cooling misters.

"Honored," Bigham says. "Everyone desires to be part of something bigger than themselves." Combining the vision for Sparkman Wharf with top local culinary talent "made this project hard to resist being a part of."

Offices with water views: Construction on the office space is underway and is expected to continue through 2019.

This winter, Channelside's existing Mediterranean facade will be scraped off and replaced by something with a more industrial feel. The building will have a two-story office lobby at mid-block along Channelside Drive.

The space where the movie theaters were will become loft-like offices, some with 40-foot ceilings overlooking the water.

The office space will be targeted to creative and innovation-oriented tenants. Tampa Bay Lightning owner and Water Street developer Jeff Vinik has said he sees the innovation hub he's starting in Tampa being in this space, but nothing's final. (Vinik is creating the innovation hub himself, but has partnered with Cascade Investment, the capital fund created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, on the larger Water Street Tampa project.)

"The theaters were a huge amount of space," with high ceilings and "all along the water, solid walls," said James Nozar, CEO of Strategic Property Partners, the Vinik-Cascade development company. "We're opening it all up. It's some pretty great space."

MORE: Go here for more Business News

Contact >Richard Danielson


  1. A huge number of homes owned by Baby Boomers will sell in the next 20 years. How will the trend affect the Florida housing market? [CAMERON GILLIE  |  NAPLES DAILY NEWS]
    The enormous generation born between 1946 and 1964 owns about 40 percent of the homes across the country.
  2. Four board members at Horizon House co-op had their locks targeted by a vandal Thanksgiving week. Clearwater police are currently investigating the incident. [Edward Schmoll]
    Four members of the Horizon House HOA board had their front-door locks vandalized during the Thanksgiving holiday.
  3. Developers of a proposed apartment complex near St. Petersburg's Mirror Lake area want to tear down this bungalow and replace it with a ramp to the parking garage. [Susan Taylor Martin]
    The only access would be via a narrow court lined with vintage houses.
  4. Noah Shaffer of Confidant Asset Management says the restaurant sector in the Tampa Bay area has done well in 2019 and to expect more openings in the coming months. Chick-fil-A Brandon South opened earlier this year.
    So far, the economy appears robust enough to support further expansion, says a local industry professional.
  5. A new retail center and health club are proposed for the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon. Preliminary plans show the fitness club near the most eastern edge of the lagoon. [SCOTT KEELER  |   Times]
    Ryan Companies proposes grocery, retail stores and health club at neighborhood’s entrance
  6. Renderings of the proposed Red Apple Group project show a 20-story hotel on the west side of the block, and a building of about six stories facing Central with parking, shops and offices. The 45-story condo tower rises at an angle on the east side of the block. [Courtesy of Arquitectonica]
    The $300 million project by Red Apple Group would include a hotel and badly needed parking space.
  7. This single-family home at 913 Pineview Avenue, in Clearwater (Monday, December 2, 2019), has seen foreclosures, flippers, upgrades and a big price swing. The current owners, Keith Lynch and Mallory Lynch, are the seventh owners of the house since 2006 - they moved here from San Francisco. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    A 1950s ranch-style house in Clearwater has had seven owners in 13 years.
  8. The Century Oaks estate in Clearwater [Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate]
    The main house and guest house have a total of 16 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms.
  9. Shady Oaks, a Victorian-style house in Belleair,  is one of the older homes in PInellas County and has possible links to railroad and hotel magnate Henry Plant. [Febre Frameworks]
    The Victorian-style house is evocative of what once was the world’s largest wooden hotel.
  10. The Courtney at Bay Pines apartments in Seminole. [Google Earth]
    The price per unit was among the higher in the Tampa Bay area.