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Towers of Channelside promise a martini, a good meal, a workout, more

By SHARON GINN, Times Staff Writer
Published August 31, 2007


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CHANNEL DISTRICT - As residents filter into condo highrises nearby, retail plans are taking shape at the Towers of Channelside, promising posh dining, a pizza restaurant and a health clubjust east of downtown and north of the Channelside entertainment complex.

A developer talked this week about plans for the 257-unit development with two 29-story towers on E Cumberland Avenue. A 7,000-square-foot high-end lounge and restaurant called Aja will anchor the ground floor space. The two-story lounge will open between late January and early March, said Robert Solomon, a partner in the project.

"It's a very, very high end lounge," he said, where customers will be able to order a nice meal as late as 2:15 a.m. Solomon said the interior is being designed by an architect friend, Kirk Blaschke, who studied under the legendary Frank Gehry.

"Kirk and I visited the nicest lounges in Philly, New York and Los Angeles just to get ideas, what people are doing," he said.

A Red Brick Pizza franchise will also move into the complex, part of a long-planned Florida expansion of the company that is based in Palmdale, Calif.

A health club called Channel Club and Spa will take a 26,750-square-foot chunk of the second floor, said Michael McGuinness, a managing partner at the Towers of Channelside.

Plans are not firm for two remaining spaces. But Thomas Everett Lamb, who recently closed on a 1,235-square-foot retail unit, said he has had several recent inquiries from parties looking to lease or purchase it. One was interested in putting in an upscale salon and spa; another, a sundries store; yet another, a liquor store. A buyer looking for professional office space also has shown interest, Lamb said.

"I think now people are seeing that those towers are certainly not speculation," said Lamb, who is known around Tampa for designing high-end homes. "They're there, there are people moving in, and the job they've done is pretty terrific."

Solomon, one of the partners in Aja, envisions Harbour Island residents walking across the bridge to visit the complex.

"I believe it's important that we make it the best, that we bring quality," he said. "It's a fantastic area. We want to take extra special care of the (residents). We're going to make it their place."

While the Towers of Channelside retail space is filling up, two other major developments have yet to announce any tenants.

Since early summer, condo buyers have been moving into SkyPoint, the 32-story downtown residential building developed by Novare-Intown Group. But the developer is not ready to release information about retail tenants, a public relations agent hired by SkyPoint said this week.

And Grand Central at Kennedy, a 392-unit building at Kennedy Boulevard about three blocks north of the Towers of Channelside, changed its strategy three weeks ago. The developer decided to sell its retail spaces as "retail condominiums" instead of leasing them.

Some residents have moved in, but developers don't expect to close on any of Grand Central's 110,000 square feet of retail space until next year, said Don Seligman, sales agent and senior vice president of the Orlando-based Quest Co.

"We are now taking reservations," Seligman said.

[Last modified August 30, 2007, 22:36:31]


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