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Exclusive: Vinik’s team hires events manager for Channelside Bay Plaza

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Franklin Street has hired a person tasked with bringing Channelside Bay Plaza to life with events and programming.

Franklin Street has hired a person tasked with bringing Channelside Bay Plaza to life with events and programming.

Darrah Winkler will manage programming at the plaza, capitalizing on existing events like Tampa Bay Lightning games to create a customer base for existing tenants. Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik’s CBP Development LLC controls the ground lease for the waterfront mall, and Vinik has hired Franklin Street to oversee the leasing and management of the plaza.

Winkler was previously the events manager at the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
The marketing and event manager is a newly created position for Channelside Bay Plaza, said Andrew Wright, Franklin Street CEO and managing partner.

Darrah is filling an invaluable role that will help revitalize this already growing district,” he said. “Her unmatched energy and enthusiasm, and well-rounded marketing and event experience, makes her the right person for this job.”

The beleaguered mall has struggled since it was built, but it seems on the verge of a new chapter as Vinik’s real estate team comes up with a plan for the entire Channel district. Vinik also owns about 25 acres in downtown Tampa and the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina. His Strategic Property Partners LLC is working on a master plan for the area that would create an urban waterfront district with residential, retail and hospitality components.

The plans are for a potentially “billion-dollar” deal, Lighting President Tod Leiweke has said. Microsoft Founder Bill Gates’ Cascade Investments is the backing those plans.

Winkler’s first order of business will be creating a master calendar for both the plaza and the Channel district, said Kelsy Pazur, Franklin Street spokeswoman.

“There’s no central calendar for that district,” Pazur said.

As it stands now, Pazur said, there’s no communication between the plaza, the Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Bay History Center or Amalie Arena. That will be Winkler‘s job — capitalizing on the traffic already coming into the district, whether for hockey games, charity walks or other events. Eventually, Franklin Street will come up with stand-alone programming, like happy hour events, to bring foot traffic to the plaza.

“Our goal is to pump new life into the property and create an amazing experience for both residents and tourists alike,” Winkler said in a statement. View PDF

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