Vinik buys parking lot, major piece of downtown plan

- A big piece of Jeff Vinik's plan for downtown Tampa is a step closer to being in place.  The Vinik-Cascade Development group has acquired the Garrison Parking Lot, which is at Channelside and Beneficial, and maybe most known for its location next to the failed Channelside mall.

But big plans are in store for the property. It will become a key part of the Water Street development project.

The board for Port Tampa Bay approved the leasing of 85 percent of the 3.4-acre property for about $500,000 a year.  The rest of the property is being sold outright for about $10 million over 10 years.

The plan is to put waterfront stores and restaurants on this property, with a residential tower behind it.

This now connects the Channelside project with the Tampa Bay History Center, Amalie Arena, the new USF health building, and everything else Vinik's group plans to build.

After years of depressing vacancy, the waterfront will finally have some life.

"We are really excited about it. We hope the community is too," said project spokeswoman Ali Glisson. "We want to bring activation for the waterfront, and that means places you can go and design outside and places where you can lounge around outside on the waterfront, in addition to having residences, office space, etc., right here in the urban core."

The rent the group has to pay will rise along with the value of the development. 

It also requires development to start within five years, or the property is relinquished back to the port, including money already paid.

It's going to take about 18 months for construction to start, with a bevy of permitting still to be arranged with the city.

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