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Loft Construction Won't Cool During Hot Summer

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By JANIS D. FROELICH

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TAMPA - Instead of taking a summer break from Channel District loft activity because of road construction, developers are proceeding as planned.

Bill Ware has finalized design plans for his Ventana development. The Place at Channelside is set to open its Discovery Center today. The Towers of Channelside has 250 reservations for its 260 planned units. Grand Central at Kennedy is offering a mixed- use, 370-unit condominium development, and plans to open a sales center at the end of June. And Victory Lofts plans to complete its 89 units by December.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plans to take down the Kennedy Boulevard viaduct in 30 days, spokeswoman Perry Dawn Brown said.

The viaduct, an eyesore in the middle of this booming residential growth, is being removed, Brown said, to make way for a landscaped, six-lane highway that will bring one- way traffic to and from Brandon.

The Meridian Street Gateway will mean the Channel District will become the grand entrance to downtown Tampa, developers say.

``I think that's been a big selling point,'' said Richard Sacchi, president of the Towers of Channelside. ``Our buyers want to be where the action is.''

Sacchi said construction should begin on the twin 30- story towers in January or February.

``We sold 250 units in 13 days,'' he said, noting the project is opposite the Channelside entertainment/restaurant complex.

The Towers of Channelside also will include five retail spaces, four of which are sold. These will bring a coffee shop, dry cleaners, fitness center, deli and a sushi place to the area.

``We wanted neighborhood retail, not something competing with Channelside,'' Sacchi said.

The 84 units at Ventana also will enjoy a key location at 1112 Channelside Drive at the north corner of Kennedy Boulevard, opposite a streetcar stop.

``About 60 percent of the project will be glass so owners will have lots of open space and windows to enjoy the views,'' Ware said.

A fourth-floor terrace level, where units surround the swimming pool, will feature private patios.

``People can actually live out there,'' Ware said. ``It will be big enough for a table and four chairs.''

Ware plans a sales center for Ventana, which means windows in Spanish, in September, and expects to begin construction next year.

Developer Fida H. Sirdar has renovated one of the warehouses on his 2.2 acres between 12th Street and Channelside Drive to showcase The Place at Channelside.

The sales center will offer 256 units to be built around a courtyard. Residents will also enjoy a pet park on the fifth level. On the street level, plans are in the works for retail and art galleries.

Grand Central at Kennedy is finishing a two-bedroom model near the Kennedy viaduct. The project will include retail stores, office space, an art gallery and community theater, Mercury Advisors developer Ken Stoltenberg announced recently.

Victory Lofts has four penthouses left, said Nick Pavonetti, who is overseeing The Beck Group's two-building project. The four-story Model T building is a renovation of an old structure, and the seven-story Victory Building is new. Both are located at the corner of 12th and Whiting streets.

Pavonetti said one of the penthouses will be kept to serve as a model unit for a future residential project in downtown Tampa or the Channel District.

``We couldn't be more pleased with this project,'' he said.

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