There’s a palpable change at Channelside Bay Plaza since Tampa Bay Lightning took over, the general manager of the Hooters restaurant there said.
“The vibe is coming back down there,” said Rob Fisher. “The important thing is the vibe is not only there on game days, but on off days when there isn’t anything going on at the arena.”
Fisher declined to share any numbers or percentages but said Hooters has “absolutely seen an increase in business and traffic” since Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik took over the property.
Vinik won control of the ground lease to the property in August.
“As soon as the deal was sealed, immediately, the positive ball started rolling,” Fisher said.
Vinik has tapped commercial real estate firm Franklin Street and Tampa developer Anthony Everett to take the lead on renovating the plaza.
Franklin Street CEO Andrew Wright said the group is working with Alfonso Architects in Tampa on a design that could be finalized within 45 days.
Executives of Vinik’s real estate company, Strategic Property Partners, have said the plan is to connect the plaza to the waterfront and the billion-dollar mixed-use district he is planning on the land he owns between Amalie Arena and downtown Tampa.
There’s talk of demolishing the southwest wing of the plaza, behind the recently opened Hablo Taco, and Wright said that would be a way to open the property up to the water.