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Road work heralds start of remake for part of downtown Tampa by Vinik, Cascade

Published Aug. 16, 2016

Getting to Amalie Arena for a Tampa Bay Lightning game this season is about to get a little hairy.

Road and infrastructure work will start Aug. 29 on Morgan Street and will affect Channelside Drive and Jefferson Street in downtown Tampa. They represent the first steps by Strategic Property Partners, the real estate firm of Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, and Cascade Investment toward rebuilding 40 acres of Tampa's urban core.

The $35 million road work project involves adding infrastructure underground, including pipes for a chilled water distribution plant. It also will change traffic patterns and add roads.

The first phase of road construction is expected to continue until next summer. The roads affected will remain open during construction, though traffic may be limited.

The goal is create a traffic grid in downtown Tampa that is easier to navigate but slows motorists to allow for more bikes and pedestrians.

A local company, Kimmins Contracting Corp., is overseeing the construction.

"This is the foundation of the entire district," said Courtland Corbino, vice president of development for SPP. "Right now, downtown Tampa can be very difficult to get around if you're not that familiar with the area. People drive at extremely high speeds, which isn't great for walkability or safety."

The construction will change roads and widen sidewalks while adding bike lanes. It includes converting Channelside Drive from a one-way, eastbound-only street into a two-way road between Morgan and Meridian avenues.

Jefferson Street also will be converted from a one-way to a two-way road.

Old Water Street will be extended north from Channelside Drive to Cumberland Avenue, creating a new north-south connection in that area.

About 8,310 feet of water, sewer and stormwater pipes will be laid under the roads. An additional 6,446 feet of chiller pipe will be added for the new cooling plant.

More on-street parking spaces are planned: 338 to be exact.

About 3,269 feet of bike lanes will be added throughout the area. Sidewalks will be widened for outdoor dining and other communal gatherings. Streetside lighting also will be updated.

Construction will begin on Channelside Drive on Sept. 5, a little more than a month before the National Hockey League season starts. SPP executives are working with Lightning officials to make sure roads are easy to navigate during the season, said James Nozar, SPP's CEO.

"We are in constant communication with the Lightning team to coordinate on these improvements," he said.

SPP was scheduled to launch a website,, today as a place to share updates and inform the community on roadway progress. The Lightning will share this information with ticket holders as it gets closer to the season, team spokesman Bill Wickett said.

"All season ticket holders who prepaid for a parking pass will not be affected by this," Wickett said, though some parking lots may move or be unavailable during some stints of construction.

The road work plays a major role in SPP's overall $2 billion revitalization project. The first phase of the development includes 1,000 new apartments and condominiums, up to 2.2 million square feet of office space and a possible national office tenant. The University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will move to downtown Tampa.

Plans call for updating the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina and Channelside Bay Plaza, as well as building a new 400- to 500-room luxury hotel.