Two years ago I sold a small 1.1 acre tract to Riverside Heights Holdings I LLC. The buyers, Chas Bruck and Adam Harden of SOHO Capital, had acquired nearly all of the other tracts surrounding this frontage piece on N. Tampa Street as well as the acreage on the waterfront between Highland Avenue to the east and North Boulevard to the west.

Fast forward two years and note: times are indeed changing. Since that sale, which gave the developers Chas Bruck and Adam Harden the “gateway” tract into their much larger development, we have seen the reopening of the Rialto Theater as a hip event space, the redevelopment of some of the office buildings on Franklin (cleverly labeled the “Yellow Brick Row”), and the opening of Ulele, the restaurant located in the waterworks facility operated by Richard Gonzmart.

Rialto Theater

Rialto Theater (photo via http://arcturuscreative.com/projects/rialto-theater)

This corner of our city, located just north of the Interstate and referred to as Tampa Heights, is about to explode. While much of the current focus is on Vinik’s Channelside mixed-use development (which will change the face of downtown Tampa and Channelside in a profound way), steady inroads are being made just up the river.

Apartments and supporting retail ought to be under construction in the next four months. The trolley barn will also reopen with at least two new restaurant concepts and related event space. If the trolley barn is adapted as cleverly as the Waterworks building we are all in for a treat. Finally, we can enjoy dining in a facility that captures the essence of our life on the water! I for one cannot wait for boat, canoe, kayak and paddle board rentals to be offered in the harbor of Waterworks Park. Can you remember the electric boats that were once offered at Harbour Island? You could take your personal watercraft, seating only two, all around the basin in front of the convention center, Tampa General Hospital, and the amphitheater at Harbour Island; it was a blast.

I played a very minor role in the transformation of our city, having participated in the 1.1 acre sale. Watch for what comes next!