Demolition of old flour mill will connect downtown Tampa, Channelside to Water Streets, next phase

An old flour mill built in 1938 in downtown Tampa will be demolished and a new phase of the Water Street development will soon replace it.

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his Strategic Property Partners (SPP) paid $13 million for it, and demolition could take place as early as this summer.

“I think this is going to present an incredible opportunity for Water Street to enter phase two and really continue this vibrant urban core that we’ve created over the past few years,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

The Flour Mill is a giant barricade that separates the town center from Channelside. Once gone, streets like Whiting Street will not stop at a dead end at the gristmill and will stretch, across the railway lines, from the town center to Channelside, and the two will develop into one more urban core big.

“That’s the real issue is really connecting all of these neighborhoods,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen said. “To make it easier to walk and cross between them, and I think that particular piece has always been the key to kind of opening up the passageways between those neighborhoods.”

Cohen served on the Tampa City Council for years as the city and various developers tried to convince the flour mill owners to sell. Vinik’s offer finally did it.

Ardent has built a new facility in the Port Redwing section of Port Tampa Bay near Gibsonton. It’s a state-of-the-art upgrade from the factory they left behind.

RELATED: Ardent Mills celebrates new state-of-the-art facility after decades in downtown Tampa

“Our downtown Tampa site had a lot of older equipment that dated back to the early 1900s with older technology,” said Steve Neely, plant manager for Ardent Mills.

He said the new mill, which provides flour for the entire region, is the most technologically advanced in the world.

SPP officials aren’t saying exactly what will be included in Water Street Phase 2, but it won’t include a gristmill.