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Port Envisions Real Estate Development

A new, 45-acre "vision" for Tampa’s downtown waterfront was unveiled Thursday by city and port officials.

The master plan for the eastern edge of downtown from the Florida Aquarium north to the old banana docks, is in addition to the Channelside re-development being worked on by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's group.

Luis Ajamil, a partner with the architectural firm hired by the port to create the “master vision,” said they met with all the stakeholders and did extensive research over the past year.

"Waterfront projects, and we’ve done this all over the world, are very difficult projects to execute and do. And in fact they are fraught with a lot of failures – they don’t’ come to success. And in fact we studied that very carefully," Ajamil said.

He added that there are three main reasons why waterfront projects fail: an unwillingness to evolve, poor financing and a lack of cooperation among the stakeholders.

So far, the Port Tampa Bay development plan has not had those problems he said.

The port said the new, "master vision" will not infringe upon its primary mission to nurture and grow maritime industries like cargo, container ships, ship repairs and the cruise ship companies.

But the cruise ship industry is limited by the height of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The newer, taller cruise ships don't fit under the span.

Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Engineer Luis Ajamil points out design features like a public park in the 45-acre "master vision" designed for Port Tampa Bay's Channelside property on the eastern edge of downtown Tampa.

Port Tampa Bay CEO and President Paul Anderson said the port is working to gain support for the master plan from maritime industries and nearby residential communities.

"We are very confident that this is going to be a work, a vision, that will be extremely well received and integrated into the existing community that already exists here - working waterfront with residential neighborhoods interjected into it," Anderson said.

The plan calls for replacing waterfront docks and cruise terminal 6 with two 75-story residential towers - retail shops, commercial space, restaurants,  a public park and a recreational boat marina.

It could take up to 15 years to complete and $1.5 billion from private investors plus $200 million from the port to pay for infrastructure.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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