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Hooters moving out of Channelside Bay Plaza as Water Street Tampa moves in

Published Aug. 2, 2018

Times Staff Writer

TAMPA — Hooters plans to leave its high-profile corner at Channelside Bay Plaza in search of a new home nearby.

"Our lease term is up on Jan. 31, 2019, and our landlord has some different plans for the space," Hooters CEO Neil Kiefer said in announcing the move Thursday.

Strategic Property Partners, the Jeff Vinik-Cascade Investment company that's developing the $3 billion Water Street Tampa project, has big plans for Channelside Bay Plaza.

When complete in early 2020, the complex will get a new name — Sparkman Wharf — and 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.

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

"While we will miss the excitement we enjoyed on our corner for so many years, we look forward to finding an equally suitable location in the neighborhood to continue to serve our great fans and customers," Kiefer said.

Channelside Bay Plaza opened in 2001, with Hooters coming along three years later.

Many restaurants came and went as Channelside struggled to create an identity and find a following, but the strength of the Hooters brand gave it staying power in what was otherwise a tough neighborhood for retail.

What's next for that corner in Channelside is not clear. Before Thursday, Water Street Tampa's developers had not said whether Hooters would stay.

"We look forward to sharing additional details about all of the retailers soon," Strategic Property Partners spokeswoman Ali Glisson said in an email when the Tampa Bay Times asked about the future of Hooters last week.

Contacted Thursday, she said, "not sure there's much I can add."

Hooters offered a free lunchtime trolley from the downtown Tampa business district, but ended it in late 2007 because the cost didn't justify it. Still, the company said it does not want to take its own brand of fun and energy far too far away.

"We have had a great 15-year run at this location and truly appreciate all the support from our neighbors and customers, especially the city of Tampa and all the organizations we so successfully partnered with to promote downtown Tampa and the waterfront," he said.

Founded on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard in Clearwater, Hooters will mark its 35th anniversary this year. The chain has 12 stores in the Tampa Bay area and more than 400 in 29 countries around the world.

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