Old flour mill demolition will connect downtown Tampa, Channelside in Water Streets next phase

An old flour mill built in 1938 in downtown Tampa will be demolished, and a new phase of the Water Street development will soon replace it. 

Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik and his Strategic Property Partners (SPP) paid $13 million for it, and demolition could come as early as this Summer. 

"I think it's going to present an incredible opportunity for Water Street to go into phase two and really continue that dynamic urban core that we’ve been creating the last few years," said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

The flour mill is a giant barricade that separates downtown from Channelside. When its gone, streets like Whiting Street won’t stop at a dead end at the flour mill and will extend, across the railroad tracks, from downtown to Channelside, and the two will grow together into one, larger urban core. 

"That’s the real issue is to really connect all these neighborhoods," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen. "To make it easy to walk and traverse between them, and I think this particular piece was always key to sort of opening up the passageways between those neighborhoods." 

Cohen served on the Tampa City Council for years as the city and different developers tried to convince the owners of the flour mill to sell. Vinik’s offer finally made it happen. 

Ardent built a new facility in the Port Redwing section of Port Tampa Bay near Gibsonton. It’s A state-of-the-art upgrade from the mill they left behind. 

RELATED: Ardent Mills celebrates new state-of-the-art facility after decades in downtown Tampa

"Our downtown Tampa location had a lot of older equipment that dated back into the early 1900s with older technology," said Steve Neely, plant manager for Ardent Mills

He said the new mill, which supplies flour for the entire region, is the most technologically advanced in the world. 

SPP officials aren’t saying exactly what will be included in Phase 2 of Water Street, but it won’t include a flour mill.