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Closure of Riverwalk looms as work at the former Trump Tower Tampa site advances



Closure of Riverwalk looms as work at the former Trump Tower Tampa site advances

The construction of the Pendry luxury high-rise is anticipated to necessitate a temporary rerouting of Riverwalk users, although this detour is expected to be significantly shorter than the previous one.

Downtown Tampa’s Riverwalk regulars expressed their discontent when a portion of the popular 2.6-mile recreational trail was closed for the $38 million Tampa Convention Center expansion, redirecting joggers and pedestrians along a bustling city street. The affected section reopened this summer after a year and a half, restoring their uninterrupted waterside path.

As the downtown area continues to experience substantial development, there is another impending detour in the future for Riverwalk users. However, this one is projected to be of shorter duration.

Pendry Tampa, a 37-story luxury hotel and condominium high-rise, is currently under construction on the southern end of the Hillsborough River, along Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa. This towering structure will comprise 220 hotel rooms and 207 residences, with condo prices starting at $1.5 million, and is expected to be finalized by 2025.

Notably, nearly two decades ago, in 2005, the same site was designated for Trump Tower Tampa, a project that ultimately failed to materialize. Touted as a property of such grandeur that it would redefine Tampa’s skyline and luxury market expectations, the endeavor succumbed to exorbitant construction costs and insufficient financing.

City officials have disclosed that the developers of Pendry initially proposed closing a city-block-long segment of the Riverwalk pathway along the construction site for a period of three years. However, this proposition was declined by the city.

“The Riverwalk is too important to the residents of Tampa, so that was a nonstarter,” said city spokesperson Adam Smith.

The current plan entails the construction of a sheltered walkway adjacent to the construction site along the Riverwalk, allowing continued usage of the pathway during the building process. This specific Riverwalk segment is expected to be closed for approximately four to six weeks while the protective walkway is being assembled, with work commencing in the next 60 days, as per city officials.

During the construction of the protective scaffolding, individuals on the Riverwalk will be temporarily redirected away from the waterfront and guided along Ashley Drive, one of downtown’s primary north-south thoroughfares, before being rerouted back to the Riverwalk pathway. This affected area spans between MacDill Park and the Brorein Street Bridge.

“The anticipated date for the Riverwalk detour is being finalized,” Abbye Feeley, the city’s deputy administrator for development and economic opportunity, said in an email.

Brad Meltzer, president of Two Roads Development, told the Tampa Bay Times via email: “We absolutely love the Riverwalk and it is a major reason we are building here. We want to keep the Riverwalk open as much as possible, as safely as possible, and so we are working with the City to help make that happen.”

“The tentative plan under discussion now is that we will build a protective canopy over the Riverwalk and adjust construction so that pedestrian traffic can continue amid construction of the Pendry Tampa hotel and residences,” he said.

With the numerous cranes operating throughout downtown Tampa, it’s evident that Riverwalk enthusiasts, including the over 100,000 monthly walkers, runners, cyclists, skaters, and revelers, may continue to experience occasional disruptions. The ongoing projects at both the Tampa Museum of Art and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, located along the waterfront, could necessitate temporary route diversions, as communicated by city authorities.

“Riverwalk is such an important community asset and an economic engine,” said Smith. “So we’re working with all developers to make sure we protect the experience.”


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