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Port Tampa Bay to unveil plan for Channel district property

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Port Tampa Bay will unveil its plans for its real estate holdings in downtown Tampa's Channel district on Thursday morning.

Port Tampa Bay will unveil its plans for its real estate holdings in downtown Tampa’s Channel district on Thursday morning.

The port said Tuesday that it would “provide an overview of the proposal and distribute renderings” of the plan. Its real estate in the Channel district includes the ground beneath Channelside Bay Plaza and the 5.65-acre parking lot immediately west of the plaza. It also includes the expanses of pavement on the eastern side of Channelside Drive — cruise terminal 3, which is 4.93 acres and cruise terminal 6, which is 12.4 acres, according to Hillsborough County property records.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who is slated to speak at the event, told Tampa Bay Business Journal in July that the port was looking at the most profitable use of its Channel district land. The area has seen an influx of residential development over the last three years.

“What the port is doing, and correctly so, is looking at long-term options for its property, its economic future and a business that shows the cruise industry having a diminishing importance over the next 15 years,” Buckhorn said.

Buckhorn, who sits on the port authority board, said the port isn’t planning to write off the cruise industry. But as the industry trends toward massive ships too large make it to the port’s downtown cruise terminals, there will be “less opportunity” for cruise business.

“I think it’s smart for them to do that, given the growth in downtown Tampa and particularly the growth of residential and specifically tied to what [Jeff Vinik] is doing on the other side,” Buckhorn said.

Strategic Property Partners, the real estate company formed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC, has a ground lease on Channelside Bay Plaza. SPP and Franklin Street, a Tampa real estate firm, have been working on a renovation plan for the property.

Franklin Street shared the preliminary plans at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ national meeting in Las Vegas in May and received a good response from several national operators. Those plans have not yet been made public.

A Lightning spokesman said Tuesday that SPP representatives would attend the port’s news conference but not actively participate.


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