Tampa Picks Columbia Restaurant For Water Works

The Columbia Restaurant, owned by the Gonzmart family, is the City of Tampa's top choice to redevelop the Tampa Heights' historic Water Works Building, says Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

After issuing a request for proposals in September 2011 for the long-term lease or lease with purchase option and redevelopment of a portion of the Water Works building, Columbia Restaurant Group, Ella's American Folk Art Cafe, The Straz Center for the Performing Arts and Water Works Enterprises all submitted proposals for review.

Ultimately, the Columbia to re-open the 9,800-sqaure-foot building as a cafe or restaurant.

“I think probably the foremost reason they were chosen is that they've been such a great asset to the community and have the financial wherewithal and creativity to make sure this can be carried off,” says Bob McDonaugh, manager of the Channel District and Downtown Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA). “They also have experience in waterfront dining. They're an outstanding candidate.”

It's estimated that $2 million will be put into the Water Works building redevelopment project in an attempt to bring the building up to a level that will satisfy the City of Tampa. Currently, one of Buckhorn's goals is to maximize the use of underutilized assets. Think: The redevelopment of the downtown Tampa's Classic Federal Courthouse.

“This was a city building that was sitting vacant and will be put back onto the tax rolls and have a productive use. It's going to put some people to work and add to the tax base,” McDonaugh says. “In the case of the Heights, to the community, it will be a really nice amenity. The city is moving forward with plans to improve the park nearby, so combining that with the Water Works project will make for a great destination.”

Located along the east side of the Hillsborough River, the City of Tampa will extend the Tampa Riverwalk through Water Works Park, connecting the Tampa Heights neighborhood. Hardeman-Kimpton & Associates is under contract with the city for the design and construction.

“We'll have to draw up plans and take it to the City Council for approval, but I would think construction will begin probably by the third or fourth quarter of 2012,” McDonaugh says. “We're looking forward to the development of the property.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Bob McDonaugh, City of Tampa
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