History of channelside district

Streetcar In Front of Jose Arango's Home -1898
- At 12th. Avenue and 20th Street- Ybor City




In the early 1900's when the railroad was the primary means of transport in Florida, large brick warehouses were built in Tampa's bustling Channel District near Union Station and Ybor Channel. By the early nineties, the neighborhood had fallen into dereliction and blight. Despite close proximity to Tampa's Central Business District, the only occupants were industrial companies, ship chandleries, artists, who were attracted to large, inexpensive spaces and a couple of retail visionaries such as Rodbenders Fishing Tackle and Vento Graphic Products. In 1993, The Tampa City Council passed The Channel District Plan which amended the zoning to encourage mixed use; pedestrian-friendly and residential uses within the neighborhood. Large public and private entities began reclaiming the valuable waterfront with daring architectural endeavors such as The Florida Aquarium, Seaport Street Terminal, The Ice Palace, the new Tampa Port Authority Headquarters/USF Downtown Center, and the Marriott Waterside Hotel. The City of Tampa dedicated land on Garrison Channel for a new public park. Within the inner Channel District, artists and internet startups transformed old warehouses into spare but elegant lofts and live-work spaces. Unique small businesses such as Spectrum Video, The Dance Project, Artists Unlimited, 12th Street Hockey Park, and Modern Display were attracted to the Channel District's ample free parking, within minutes of downtown skyscrapers. The Tampa Historic Streetcar System, now completed, links the Channel District to Ybor City, Harbour Island and the Convention Center. Ten state-of-the-art digital movie theaters, four restaurants, shopping and retail space at Channelside on Garrison Channel are now open.

propose massive high-rise development on a piece of land which currently offers the public a magnificent view of Garrison Channel, Ybor Channel and the lifeblood of Tampa's economy, that is, the Port of Tampa.

Tampa has invested over fifty million dollars in the Historic Streetcar System, and it is very popular with visitors and residents. What the riders see as they journey along the Visitor Crescent, from Ybor City to the Tampa Convention Center, leaves a permanent impression of our City.

The Tampa Port Authority has stewardship of this prime public property. We depend on governing bodies like The Tampa Port Authority to protect the public's long term interests. Public trust is hard to win and easy to lose. If this property is no longer needed to accomplish the mission of the Port, then I urge you to work with the City on a master plan that will benefit the residents and businesses of the entire City.  

The City is requesting formal proposals for a mixed-use development, which must include a significant residential component.

The 7.5 acre site is located on Twiggs Street generally between Channelside Drive and the Central Business District and enjoys immediate proximity to the new Tampa-Ybor Historic Electric Streetcar line, which is one-half block east of the site.

The City recognizes an opportunity to redevelop this property as part of Tampa's Channelside urban renaissance. With adjacent redevelopment in the Channel District and convenient transit, expressway and interstate access, this site and its surrounding area are well positioned to become a community cornerstone along a major gateway to Downtown Tampa.

Selection criteria will include previous experience with projects of similar scope; compatibility of the project with the Channel District and Downtown; strength of the residential component of the project; financial feasibility; timely project schedule and overall merits of the proposer's development plan.

Tampa's 12th Street, located between Meridian, Twiggs, Channelside and the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, is the most important piece of real estate to come on the market in downtown Tampa in several years because of its size and its location. This parcel is in excess of seven acres which is large enough to do something really significant. The entire parcel is controlled by the City of Tampa, which means "no assembly required." In addition, there is the possibility that the City will transfer the rights to the small access streets currently dividing the parcel so that the buildable acreage can be increased. It is located in an Enterprise Zone which makes it eligible for redevelopment incentives. It is located in a census tract that qualifies for "community enhancement loans" which enable certain home buyers to purchase with zero down-payment. It is located adjacent to a major transportation project (the bridge above the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway) funded by Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority which is spending millions of dollars widening and landscaping Meridian. In excess of 7,000 cars per hour are expected to pass through the intersection of Twiggs and Meridian at certain times of the day. The Historic Streetcars roll past this site. The cruise ship terminals where 3,000 passengers per day arrive are across the street from this site. The University of South Florida downtown campus and the World Trade Center are about 500 feet from the site. Ybor City's dozens of restaurants, art galleries, and shopping are within walking distance or streetcar hop of this location. The beautifully restored Union Station (a future hub when high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando is developed) is the west border of this property.

As far as our expectations, we are hoping for a mixed-use development that will significantly increase the number of residential units in downtown Tampa. With its views of cruise ships in Ybor Channel and the downtown skyline, no doubt luxury residences could be marketed here, but we hope that the developer will find a way to incorporate affordable housing on this site. There are thirty to forty thousand people working in downtown Tampa, and most of them cannot afford to live in luxury residences on Harbour Island. They work as secretaries, bank tellers, mailroom clerks, insurance claims processors, hotel staff, government servants and newsroom staff. Many of these people would gladly forego their daily perils on Malfunction Junction, Dale Mabry, I-275 or Highway 60 if they could find decent housing in the urban core.