Channelside Bay Plaza has all but consumed Franklin Street CEO Andrew Wright’s thoughts for the last month.
Wright has been hired to oversee the leasing and management of the waterfront mall by Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik’s CBP Development LLC, which officially won control of the property on Monday after a settlement that ended a legal drama between Vinik’s group and Tampa-based Liberty Channelside. Wright will be helping with the short- and long-term plans for the plaza.
Wright said he’s been in talks with Vinik’s team for about three and a half years, and has been intrigued by the plaza for even longer than that.
“It was originally designed to be the crown jewel of Tampa,” Wright said Friday. “And for a lot of reasons, it’s failed multiple times, and I really thought with the right pieces in place, it can work and transform downtown forever.”
It’s too soon to talk about specific uses or tenants for the property, Wright said, echoing Lightning General Counsel Jim Shimberg’s comments earlier Friday that plans for the mall will be a long-term initiative, months in the making.
“We’re as anxious as anybody to get things moving and happening, but it’s important to get it right,” Wright said, “This is something that can transform Tampa forever.”
One thing is for sure: The plaza is part of a much bigger plan the Vinik group has for downtown and Channelside, an entertainment district that would span from the Tampa Convention Center to Florida Aquarium.
“The property needs to be planned into the district,” Wright said. “The reason it’s struggled, despite the fact you have all these great things, is that they’ve never been connected.”