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Frequently Asked Questions

The Tampa Riverwalk-Opening the River to the People


1. General Questions
2. The Project Plan
3. Project Costs and Funding
4. Project Progress
5. Commercial and Retail
6. Transportation on the Riverwalk
7. Who is the Riverwalk for?

 

1.  GENERAL QUESTIONS

a.  What is the Riverwalk?

The Tampa Riverwalk is a 2.6 mile continuous waterfront corridor along the banks of the Hillsborough River and the Garrison Channel.  As it is completed, it will provide a safe pathway for sedentary and active users, numerous boater access points, a canvas for the celebration of Tampa's history and culture, a connection to numerous destinations and extensive upcoming commercial/retail development.  The Tampa Riverwalk will connect all the key downtown destinations for both tourists and residents, allowing them to park their car once to access everything on Tampa's beautiful waterfront.

b.  What is so exciting about a sidewalk?

The Riverwalk Project is so much more than a sidewalk.  A key component is certainly the 15 foot wide pathway along the river, but the other components like restaurants,  Portals, event programming, boat docks, murals, shade, bridge lighting, retail, adjacent cultural amenities, etc., create a wonderful waterfront environment, which is the end goal.  An environment that provides immediate and free access to the water's edge, connecting people physically and emotionally to the water in this relaxing environment.  In addition to leisurely strolls, it also provides a gathering place for large and small scale events and festivals that can occur on a regular basis.  All of this provides the potential for an economic engine for Tampa as it attracts citizens and tourists regionally, nationally and internationally.  The potential for what it can do for our city is exciting.

c.  Why is the Riverwalk a city priority?

Our waterways comprise a key community asset.  The Riverwalk is an opportunity to open the waterfront to the people by providing a wonderful environment to enjoy events along the water. The walkway will link various destinations along the river and will be a catalyst for economic development and tourism.  Additionally, the project plays a large role in restoring natural shoreline and filtering stormwater from the city streets.  This project is one of the keys to revitalizing downtown Tampa as an enjoyable place to live, learn, work and play.

d.  Why has it taken the City so long to construct a Riverwalk?

The City understands the value of the waterfront and has been working to develop a Riverwalk since the mid 1970s. The project has often been sidetracked because of other competing demands on our municipality. The Riverwalk is one of Mayor Pam Iorio's highest priorities as it fits her vision to revitalize the downtown area and establish downtown as a residential neighborhood with accompanying amenities.  As a high priority, she has dedicated a fulltime person to the job.  The nature of funding, designing, permitting and construction is by definition time consuming.  You will find that the quality of the pay-as-you-go project is very high as it is designed to last decades.  The nominal time to get a substantial portion of Riverwalk completed for other cities has been about 10 years.

e.  How can I get to the Riverwalk? Where do I park? Will more parking be added to accommodate Riverwalk visitors?

With the entire southern section in place, you can park in the lot next to the Tampa Bay Times Forum (South Regional Parking Garage) and walk toward the water to enjoy Cotanchobee/Ft Brooke Park, the south entry plaza, and the area behind the Marriott Waterside Hotel and Tampa Convention Center.  The Platt Street Underpass links the Tampa Convention Center and USF Park.  There is ample parking under the Crosstown Expressway to access the USF park end of this continuous section.  The Ft Brooke Parking Garage provides direct access to MacDill Park.  Many downtown city streets have parking meters close to the Riverwalk.  As the downtown continues to develop, parking is a key consideration in every decision.  For further information on parking go to: 

/dept_parking/

f.  Is it okay to walk behind the Marriott Waterside Hotel, Tampa Convention Center or David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts?

Absolutely.  Public right-of-way runs behind each area and is meant for the enjoyment of all.

g.  What happened to the planks from the original Riverwalk at Curtis Hixon Park?

In the mid 1970s, citizens were given the opportunity to purchase wooden planks for $25 each which comprised the original Riverwalk near Curtis Hixon Park.  Over the years, the wood eventually began to deteriorate from the elements and in the name of safety, removed and placed in storage.  They were replaced by granite pavers, as currently found in the same area.  The hope was to use the planks in some way with the new Riverwalk, but the deterioration of the wood was so extensive, they were unusable and had to be discarded.  In order to recognize all of the individuals and organizations that contributed to the original Riverwalk through the planks, their names were placed on several large plaques located on the wall of the ramp along the water linking Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the Rivergate Tower (round building).  The names are also included on the Riverwalk website (www.tampariverwalk.net) to recognize their support in the early stages of the project.  The names can be found on the Riverwalk Donors page in the "Pioneers of the Riverwalk" section.

h.  Where can I get more information on the Riverwalk?

Check out the Riverwalk website (http://www.tampariverwalk.net/) often or send an e-mail to Riverwalk@tampagov.net.  The Friends of the Riverwalk website is also a source of information and is found at www.TheTampaRiverwalk.com.


2.  QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROJECT PLAN

a.  How long is the planned walkway?  Will it be continuous or cross busy streets?

The walkway will ultimately stretch from North Boulevard Bridge (near Blake High School) down the Hillsborough River along Garrison Channel to the Channelside District. There are 24 segments that stretch approximately 2.4 miles. The Tampa Riverwalk Phase I Plan includes 21 of the 24 segments spanning the 2.2 mile area from the North Boulevard Bridge to the Beneficial Drive Bridge. The City is designing the Riverwalk to cross under all of the 12 bridge spans along the walkway to avoid crossing busy city streets.   Even with the low clearance of the CSX Railroad Bridge, the City has a viable design for a beautiful underpass.

b.  Is the Riverwalk only on the east side of the river?

The Riverwalk structure will be completed on the east side of the Hillsborough River adjacent to the downtown area.  What will be in place in 30 years will depend on the measure of our dreams.

c.  What are the start and completion dates for the project?

The project kicked off in 1975 as part of our nation's bi-centennial celebration; however plans for the walkway were delayed over the years due to competing city priorities. The Riverwalk became a top priority with Mayor Iorio's administration with her vision for how it would elevate our city and revive the downtown.  As of February 2009, 100% of the 2.2 miles of Riverwalk in the Phase I plan is either completed, under construction, in design or committed to by a developer.  All design work from Channelside to the TBPAC should be completed by the summer of 2010.

d.  Can the current infrastructure accommodate the increased traffic to the area?

Increasing the amount of people in the downtown area will require planning in many areas including transportation, pedestrian safety, parking, and way-finding. Restaurant and retail space will also be critical to meet the needs of the Riverwalk visitors.

e.  Will the Riverwalk connect to Bayshore?

Yes. The Platt Street Bridge connects the walkway to Bayshore Boulevard.  A separate pedestrian bridge on the south side of Platt Street Bridge to link the two is part of the future Riverwalk plan.

f.  What types of amenities will be along the Riverwalk?

There are already numerous amenities along the completed segments and more are coming soon. The public input forums held in 2005 were key in shaping the amenities to be provided.  Commercial space, retail, restaurants, nightlife and watercraft access will be key components to make the waterfront a place people want to be. Specific destinations along the Riverwalk include the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, the Sail Pavilion at the Tampa Convention Center,  the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Tampa Bay History Center, several parks and restaurants.  And, in the near future, the Glazer's Children's Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art, the newly redesigned Water Works Park and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park are all scheduled to be open.  The Channelside Bay Shoppes, Florida Aquarium and the American Victory Ship are located at the southern terminus.  The Riverwalk will also be host to exciting events, performances, and art and music festivals.

g.  What is the Activation Plan?

The Activation Plan is the heart and soul of the Riverwalk project.  This plan is being developed to outline the programming of events and activities that you will find along the Riverwalk and associated parks.  Examples would be period actors from the "Plant Hotel" walking along the Riverwalk; movies in the park;  water and walking tours; festivals; health, environment and history information; public art displays, musical and theatrical performances; water sports and health events.   This flurry of activity gives reason to come to the downtown as a destination of choice because "something is always going on!" 

h.  What are the security precautions set in place for pedestrians walking the area at night?

As safety is a critical factor to the success of the Riverwalk, the Master Plan incorporates the proper lighting and design to make the Riverwalk safe.  Currently, the Police and Tampa Downtown Partnership guides patrol the completed sections.  Further security measures will be determined by planners and the Tampa Police Department as additional segments are built.

i.  Can the Riverwalk accommodate special events and festivals?

Currently there are several parks along the Riverwalk that can be used for events and festivals and two additional parks are included in the Master Plan. The walkway along the river will offer excellent viewing areas for river and portside events.

j.  What are trail construction plans for the West side of the Hillsborough River?

The City of Tampa Parks & Recreation Department has plans to complete the section of the Tampa's Ross J. Ferlita Greenways and Trails system on the west bank of the river from Blake High School to Bayshore Boulevard.  They currently have a 1.5 mile section in place.

Status reports on development of the Blake Trail - Hillsborough River Greenway section of Tampa's Ross J. Ferlita Greenways and Trails system may be found at:

/dept_parks_and_recreation/


3.  QUESTIONS ABOUT PROJECT COSTS AND FUNDING

a. What is the total cost of the project?

The City hired EDAW, an international planning, landscape architecture and urban design firm to complete the Tampa Riverwalk Master Plan. The plan was unveiled on March 14, 2006 and preliminary cost estimates for construction total $40 million.  Phase I of the Master Plan is estimated at $27 million and focuses on the connections from the Tampa Bay History Center area to North Boulevard Bridge.  Learn more about the Master Plan and view graphics.

b.  How will the project be funded?

The City will continue, as able, to earmark funds in the budget to continue toward the completion of its goal.  No property taxes are used in this funding as it comes primarily from federal gas tax revenues.  But, City money alone will not be enough. Planners are pursuing every source of funding to include grants, state funds, other federal funds and private donations through a capital campaign. Private donations will constitute approximately $13.5 million of the project of which $4 million is from developers.  $13.5 million will be raised through public funding requests. A breakdown of the project funding is found below:

  • Private Fundraising ($13.5 million)

  • Public Sources ($13.5 million)

    • City: $3.78 million

    • State: $2.7 million

    • Federal: $5.4 million

    • Other: $1.62 million

The Friends of the Riverwalk launched a capital campaign to raise the $13.5 million in private donations. Please consider making a donation to the Friends of the Riverwalk, as even the smallest donation helps.  Learn how to make a donation.

c. What is the greatest need for the project?  How can I help make the Riverwalk a reality?

The Riverwalk is a pay-as-you-go project.  Design and construction of this project will proceed as fast as funding allows.   Fundraising is the greatest need to get the Riverwalk completed, but community involvement and support is critical to our success.  To consider contributing your time or money to the project please see the Get Involved" and "Riverwalk Donors" sections on the Riverwalk site.


4.  QUESTIONS ABOUT PROJECT PROGRESS

a.  How much of the Riverwalk is complete?

Eight segments are complete -- South Plaza/Tampa Bay History Center (just south of the Tampa Bay Times Forum) is now open and extends Contanchobee/Ft. Brooke Park to the corner of Beneficial and Channelside Drives.  Other completed segments include Cotanchobee/Ft Brooke Park, the walkway behind the Marriott Waterside Hotel, the Tampa Convention Center,  Platt Street Underpass, University of South Florida Park on the Riverwalk, MacDill Park on the Riverwalk, and the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

b. What are the next segments to be built?

Construction of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is scheduled to be completed in December 2009 and will add 500 feet of beautiful waterside walkway.  Brorein Street Underpass is designed and awaiting construction as soon as funding is available.  Brorein Street to MacDill Park and Kennedy Plaza are currently under design.   Waterworks Park (part of the Heights Development) will be under construction in the summer of 2009.


5.  QUESTIONS ABOUT COMMERCIAL AND RETAIL

a. Will the Riverwalk connect to Channelside shops and restaurants?

The City plans to connect the Riverwalk to the Channelside complex through a path along the west side of Beneficial Drive Bridge to Channelside Drive allowing easy access to the shopping district. The goal is to also extend access over the water to the port wharf (under Beneficial Street Bridge) following the completion of the Riverwalk Phase I Plan.

b. Will new businesses be attracted to the Riverwalk?

As more and more people come to enjoy the Riverwalk, businesses will come to meet their needs which will attract more people bringing more business opportunities.  This cycle will mature the Riverwalk environment into Mayor Iorio's vision.  The City will encourage the development of these businesses as they are important to the success of the Riverwalk.  Since much of the waterfront consists of parks and businesses, the City will seek to integrate other downtown restaurant and retail establishments in close proximity to the Riverwalk as part of the overall environment.  This concept works to make the Tampa downtown the destination of choice.

c.  I am interested in retail opportunities on the Riverwalk. Who do I contact for more information?

Please contact Angela Ruth with the Tampa Downtown Partnership by email at or by phone at 813-221-3686 ext. 104.


6.  QUESTIONS ABOUT TRANSPORTATION ON THE RIVERWALK

a.  Is transportation along the Riverwalk being considered?

The City is currently planning to accommodate transportation needs as more and more people come downtown to enjoy the Riverwalk. The TECO Streetcar, rubber wheel trolleys and private electronic taxis already service the downtown along the waterfront.  Water taxis are another option under consideration.

b.  Will water taxis be available some time in the future?

There once was a water taxi along the Hillsborough River and we expect that increased activity in the area will bring some form of the taxi back.  Water shuttles have recently begun operating in the downtown area.

c.  Will there be docks for boater access? 

There will be public docks available in multiple spots along the Riverwalk for the boating community.  Transient docks will be included in the Heights development project area on the north end of the Riverwalk near Water Works Park.  Docks are also included in the design concepts for the new Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park south of Cass Street and more dockage in Garrison Channel adjacent to Cotanchobee/Ft Brooke Park.  As we continue to design the remaining segments of the Riverwalk, our planners are also looking at additional dock locations to allow maximum access to the Riverwalk and adjacent amenities.


7.  WHO IS THE RIVERWALK FOR

a.  Is the Riverwalk only for the downtown community?

The Riverwalk is a free, community asset. Residents and workers in the downtown area will be able to take advantage of all the venue has to offer, because of its close proximity to the downtown core. Programmed events will draw people from across our entire community. The Riverwalk is for everyone, whether you live downtown, throughout Tampa, or outside the local area!

b.  Who is the Riverwalk designed and programmed to attract?

The Riverwalk design and programming is planned to attract citizens from every category and age group from young children to older adults.  The architects creating the Riverwalk Master Plan held two public input meetings in September and November of 2005 to gather ideas from all segments of our community to create a Riverwalk that appeals to everyone.  Constant input is sought to continually evolve the environment into what the public desires.

After all, it is your Riverwalk.