The beleaguered Channelside Bay Plaza has scored a new tenant, a 6,000-square-foot tequila and taco bar that will open by the end of the month.
Franklin Street, which Tampa Bay lightning owner Jeff Vinik tapped to revive the property, said Friday that it has signed Hablo Taco, which will open Jan. 29, ushered in by a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Vinik and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
The restaurant will hold a sneak peek party for Channelside residents on Jan. 28. It will be in the former Tinatapas location.
While the Channel district has seen a residential renaissance in recent years, retail and restaurants have been reluctant to set up shop anywhere in the district. With a residential base of about 3,500 people, the neighborhood lacks the critical mass needed to support retailers and restaurants.
CBP Development, the entity under which Vinik holds the ground lease to the plaza, is funding the construction of the taco bar, along with Millenium Management Group Inc. Tenant improvement dollars are common for most retail transactions, but likely a requirement to entice a tenant into a spot as risky as the Channel district.
Vinik acquired the ground lease to the bay plaza in 2014 and tapped Franklin Street to oversee the leasing and management. The Tampa real estate firm has since brought on an events manager to activate the property and create foot traffic for existing tenants.
The plaza is part of Vinik’s billion-dollar development plan for downtown Tampa, which will build nearly 3 million square feet of office, retail and residential space on nearly 25 vacant acres Vinik and his team have assembled over the last several years.
“As we continue to build on the momentum of the Channelside district, we felt it was the perfect new restaurant concept to bring to the area,” Andrew Wright, CEO and managing partner of Franklin Street, said in a written statement. “The opening of Hablo Taco serves as an immediate initial step towards realizing our overall vision for the Channelside Bay Plaza and shows the commitment of the new ownership.