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Four Bid to Bring New Restaurant to Tampa Heights

The City of Tampa is considering proposals from Ella's Cafe, Columbia Restaurant and others to turn the abandoned Waterworks building into a waterfront restaurant.

The City of Tampa is considering four bids from restaurant companies that would turn an abandoned Tampa Heights building into a new waterfront restaurant, TBO.com reports.

The owners of , Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City and the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, plus another development group, are all in the running to transform the two-story, brick Waterworks building into a restaurant, according to the story.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is set to choose a bid within the next two weeks. From there, the developer will have to negotiate a lease and present the proposal to the city council for a final decision.

"This is a fantastic site," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told TBO.com. "There are boat slips, a park, a beautiful view. There's a real opportunity here. You could have festivals, food truck rallies, movies, lots of things."

president Gail Smiley thinks the announcement is "great news for the community and the neighborhood," because pickings are very slim in the area. “Other than Cafe Hey," she said, "we don't have a nice restaurant we can come to and socialize in and meet other with people from other neighborhoods. When Seminole Heights got a , when Seminole Heights got an , we thought, "Great." We supported it. But now we want restaurants in our own neighborhood."

Smiley said her association will meet in January and discuss which of the four bidders the THCA will officially support. Personally, Smiley said she hopes whatever business goes in will be "something basically anybody and everybody can afford. We want to make sure everybody can come out and enjoy it."

Smiley also said that she would be opposed to a restaurant's petition for a liquor license at the Waterworks building, but would support beer and wine there.

And since Tampa Heights seems to have the mayor's attention, Smiley took the liberty of making another suggestion. "We still want a grocery store in our area too," she said.  

Jim Shirk December 23, 2011 at 12:30 PM
I'm for Ella's; they're innovative, new & fresh, and would help link the most vibrant parts of Tampa, Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights.
Michael Canning December 23, 2011 at 02:23 PM
Good points, Jim. So far it's hard to find anyone who disagrees with you.
David Rice December 23, 2011 at 06:39 PM
No argument here. The prospects of using that as a music venue with room for something like a beer garden and an expanded kitchen? Ella's all the way. The Columbia can't leave Ybor, too much tradition in it being there.
Michael Canning December 23, 2011 at 06:52 PM
The Columbia won't leave Ybor City, David - not even with an act of Congress. What they're proposing for the Waterworks building is an addition to their fleet of satellite restaurants. But you make an excellent point about Ella's potential to bring a music element to the Waterworks building. Music is a big part of their Seminole Heights location.

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