TAMPA - After nearly a dozen years selling good times in a bottle it's a bittersweet day for Wine Design at Channelside Bay Plaza. The racks have been sold but owner Heidi Nietzel will make you a deal on the gift items and whatever wine is left.
"A few weeks ago we had a day when not one person came into the shop. That's when we knew it was time" said Nietzel.
Channelside Plaza opened in 2001 with built in problems, including an awkward layout and Port security that blocked off the waterfront from foot traffic.The Exodus began in earnest when the plaza owner defaulted in 2010, turning control over to an Irish Bank.
Since then visitors like Karen Esraly from West Palm Beach have been disappointed at how little there is to do at the the waterfront complex.
"This is very comparable to City Place in West Palm Beach where I'm from. Down there it doesn't look like this. New stores are opening and new restaurants are opening, so it is a disappointment" said Esraly.
For years, Heidi Nietzel held out hope things would improve, especially when Lightning owner, Jeff Vinnick expressed interest in buying Channelside. When he lost interest, so Nietzel.
Neitzel and her husband will now pour their energies into their other business, a lively craft beer pub called The Pour House in the nearby Channelside neighborhood.
But she worries about her fellow merchants left behind and holds out little hope for Channelside Bay Plaza as we know it.
"They're going to wait until everybody leaves on their own because no one wants to be the bad guy and kick out all these mom and pops. And once everyone is gone, it's going to be bulldozed and they'll start over.
Wine Design will take some of their equipment over to The Pour House which will allow them to offer over 30 wines by the glass.
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