The east side of the Hillsborough River just north of downtown Tampa is about to take on a whole new look and feel.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Casey Gonzmart of the Columbia Restaurant Group and community leaders will break ground Wednesday, Oct. 9, on a $7.4 million improvement project to extend the Tampa Riverwalk through Water Works Park, connecting downtown to the Tampa Heights neighborhood.
Angela Hendershot, architect with Rowe Architects, Inc. and part of the Biltmore Construction's design-build team for the park's renovation, expects the park to serve as an anchor and terminus of the Riverwalk. Park improvements are slated to include a play area, splash pad, dog run, performance pavilion, open lawn and multiple public boat docks.
Hendershot says park's design will be "a modern interpretation respectful of the historic Waterworks Building and other park structures.''
In addition to the park improvements, the Columbia Restaurant Group is in the process of transforming the nearby historic Water Works Building into a Native American-inspired restaurant and brewery.
Named after the bubbling spring that flows into the Hillsborough River in Tampa Heights -- what was Tampa's first source of drinking water -- Ulele will serve unique foods and sprits, featuring items indigenous to this area’s waters and farms.
"This is 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,'' says Bob McDonough, manager of the Channel District and Downtown Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA). "Combining this with the nearby Water Works Park project will make for a great destination.''
Initial construction on Ulele began in fall 2012 and will be completed as part of the park improvements. Completion is slated for spring 2014.
"We're looking forward to the development of the property,'' McDonough says.
Of the $7.4 million budget for park improvements, $6.5 million in funding comes from Capital Improvements Tax (CIT). Additional dollars will come from a SFWMD grant and the site's designation as a brownfield. It's estimated that $2 million will be put into the Water Works building redevelopment project.
"Both projects will enhance the waterfront," says Principal Rick Rowe of Rowe Architects.
Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Bob McDonough, City of Tampa; Angela Hendershot and Rick Rowe, Rowe Architects