Demolition begins in Channelside, paving way to Water Street

- The transformation of downtown Tampa is beginning.

Demolitions teams have been leveling the southwest section of the Channelside Plaza as the Water Street project is underway.

"It will be the largest coordinated downtown construction project next year in the U.S., very excited about that. 4 million square feet of development will break ground next year. That is the equivalent of, essentially, 7 office towers in downtown Tampa." James Nozar, C-E-O of Strategic Property Partners told Fox 13 News.

In place of Channelside Plaza's southwest corner will be an outdoor park. It'll have concert space, even shipping containers that will essentially be stationary food trucks overlooking the water.

"We got about 13 acres of green space going into the project -- about 25% of the land which is almost unheard of in an urban environment, in terms of an urban setting. We started out planning the street level," Nozar said. "I think in terms of creating a true walkable place where you want to enjoy the outdoors and not baking in the sun like we are now ... that is what we're trying to create."

The entire six-block area of Water Street will be equipped with the best internet as well as free Wi-Fi. It will also have a central cooling system for air conditioning which will free up roof top space for restaurants, bars as well an acre farm.

Construction will begin in 2018 for two new hotels, which will include 680 rooms plus 1,200 residential units plus 300,00 sq. ft of retail space. It is scheduled to be done by early 2021 just in time for Tampa to host the Super Bowl.

"Next year, people are going to be in shock when they see the reality of this project. That is a long time coming we all know that. Seeing 20+ cranes in the air and seeing it mature and deliver in late 2020... this is going to be a whole new downtown Tampa," Nazrar said, "and I think it's going to be tremendously exciting for all of us."

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