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11 story project planned for the Channel District

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Project responds to demand for Channel District residential

Developer reveals plans for project at Kennedy and Channelside corner

Ken Salgat

Staff writer

TAMPA -- After 40 years of waiting, developer Bill Ware believes now is the time for mixed-use residential in the Channel District.

Ware is the managing principal in Ventana Tampa LLC. His newest project, called Ventana, will consist of 84 units in 11 stories on a little more than an acre at the northwest corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Channelside Drive.

The property had been in Ware's family for four decades, but it wasn't until the last few years that Ware decided the time was right for residential in the Channel District.

"My grandfather has owned the parcel for years, but there never really seemed to be a demand for downtown residential," said Ware. "A lot of things have occurred in a very short timeframe. There's a continued migration of people to the area, and now there seems to be a huge interest to live, work and play from where people work. The demand just seems to be increasing."

The demand is measurable due to the fact that newly announced projects in the area have either sold out or have received a great deal of buyer interest.

Ventana is just one of 12 projects in various stages of development in the Channel District.

When the Channel District residential community was envisioned, the idea was to have lofts across from cruise terminals.

Prices announced less than two years ago were starting at $155,000 in Channelside 212 Lofts on 12th Street and $150,000 in Victory Lofts at 12th and Whiting streets.

All units at Victory Lofts and Channelside 212 have sold and are under contract.

All 260 units at the mixed-use The Towers at Channelside have been reserved.

Now the emphasis is on larger, more expensive units with loads of amenities, such as concierge services and terrace pools with spa areas -- just like Ware's project. It's a shift in development focus that the city seems to welcome.

Wilson Stair, the City of Tampa's urban planning manager, said initially the city planners expected that the Channel District would be more lower priced than most of South Tampa, but that the area now has taken on a life of its own.

Mark Huey, the city's economic development manager, said the new mixed-use projects near downtown Tampa will add to the area's current entertainment offerings.

"The fact of the matter is that the downtown does have a great many things to offer the community," said Huey. "There's the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the aquarium and the Channel District Square that attract and keep people downtown. We just need to support those existing businesses and add to the mix."

Prices of the Ventana units start in the mid-$200,000s, with the four penthouse units pushing $1 million. Units will range from 1,125 to 2,600 square feet. Each residence will feature open floor plans and upgraded finishes, along with mezzanine terraces. Community amenities will include a pool and spa, fitness center, sauna and clubroom.

The project also will include boutique retail on the street level in two retail bays, both approximately 4,200 square feet, said Ware.

"We will break ground in first quarter 2005 and expect buildout within 15 months," said Ware.

Leading the design team for Ventana is the Tampa office of Walton H. Chancey and Associates Architects and Sandra B. Chancey Interior Design.

Hardin Construction has been selected as the general contractor for Ventana.

WilsonMiller will provide civil engineering, landscape architecture and surveying for the project.

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