Buckhorn Announces Columbia Restaurant Group and Metro Bay Real Estate, LLC to Redevelop Historic Water Works Building

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Mayor Buckhorn announced today that the Columbia Restaurant Group and Metro Bay Real Estate, LLC have been chosen to redevelop the historic Water Works building in the Tampa Heights neighborhood.

The Columbia Restaurant Group and Metro Bay Real Estate, LLC anticipate opening by the end of 2012.

“The Water Works building with the surrounding property has been a hidden gem of the Tampa Heights neighborhood for the better part of the last century. Now, with this plan, we are going to re-energize that property and make it into something special,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "It will be transformed into a space for everyone to enjoy, with a new park, a restored spring, and of course, a restaurant with views of the Hillsborough River.”

The restaurant is part of a larger concept for Water Works Park. The City of Tampa will extend the Tampa Riverwalk through the park, connecting the Tampa Heights neighborhood, and will install new fencing and lighting. Hardeman-Kimpton & Associates is under contract with the City for the design and construction, which is anticipated to start later this year. Ulele Spring, formerly called Magbee Spring, will also undergo restoration, which is being funded mostly by South West Florida Water Management District. Construction on Ulele Spring’s restoration is expected to start in the fall of 2012.

Bill Rain of Metro Bay Real Estate has extensive background in redeveloping historic buildings in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. The Columbia Restaurant Group, owned by the Gonzmart family, includes nine local establishments, including the original Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, the oldest restaurant in Florida.


On September 13, 2011, the City of Tampa released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the acquisition (long-term lease or lease with option to purchase) and redevelopment of a portion of the Water Works Building as a café or restaurant. Columbia Restaurant Group, Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café, The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, and Water Works Enterprises all submitted a proposal for review. The responses for the Water Works building are available online at www.tampagov.net/pao.

The Water Works building, located along the east side of the Hillsborough River in the Tampa Heights neighborhood, is a local historic landmark. The 9,800 square foot brick building was constructed in the early 1900's as the City's third potable water pumping station. The station was decommissioned in 1930 and later served as city office and storage space.