New Channelside vision could change downtown street grid

Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik wants changes to grid

TAMPA - A new vision for Channelside means more changes to downtown Tampa.

"The street grid just doesn't lend itself to that,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

"So really what you want to do is create a road network that allows flow through the project, that creates developable blocks, that has wide sidewalks and great pedestrian amenities,” he said.

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik wants to rework some downtown streets. Vinik owns more than 20 acres, buying up parcel after parcel over the last several months, and is pitching a 200,000-square-foot office complex across from the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

He’s asking the city to close a short section of Eunice Street to connect the bisected properties.

"It would only make sense that we would look at doing this,” Buckhorn said.

The improvements, including road, water and sewers, could be financed with tax revenues or tax-increment financing from the downtown area.

Vinik is expected to unveil his plan for street changes to Tampa City Council in mid September.

"This will be the place to go before and after the Lightning game or a concert,” said Ferg’s Downtown Tampa attorney Mark Bentley.

Ferg’s new location is set to open its doors in as little as two months.

"I think it's great because without the street closure a lot of these larger scale developments, which we need down here, they wouldn't have the ability to actually construct them. All you could have is a series of smaller developments which would be really impractical,” Bentley said.

Bentley says reworking the street grid will hopefully bring more foot traffic to the location.

"I hope he'll have stuff coming out of the ground within a year, and we'll be able to start working on the street grid,” said Buckhorn, referring to Vinik.

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