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Channelside's maze, sinful slices, a widow's wisdom

By ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001


The entrance to the shops at Channelside courtyard will make perfect sense some day.

The entrance to the shops at Channelside courtyard will make perfect sense some day.

The Hogan Group's John Twomey delivered that message Tuesday during the Tampa chamber luncheon at Pop City. Twomey, whose company oversees the shops, was part of a panel lauding the Channelside area's development.

The entrance has been a point of contention because people who park in the garage across the street have to walk the length of the complex and then circle around to the main courtyard.

It was telling that a chamber official had to direct people to the luncheon with the aid of signs taped to columns. It's supposed to be a retail center, not a mini-maze.

Twomey, however, explained that when the adjacent 31/2-acre lot west of the shops becomes a major hotel, the entrance will be a grand plaza, merging the shops with the new hotel.

The hotel, which would include a separate parking garage, remains just a proposal, however.

* * *

Speaking of Channelside, the Florida Aquarium's new exhibit, Sea Hunt, debuts Friday with zebra sharks, wolf eels, lionfish with poisonous spines and a giant Pacific octopus. But it does not include Lloyd Bridges.

* * *

The Ybor City museum will honor the three Manteiga family publishers -- Victoriano, Roland and Patrick -- at 6 p.m. Thursday as part of its latest exhibit, As We Heard It: Three Generations of Ybor City News.

Perhaps it makes sense the nation's only tri-lingual paper also is a tri-generation paper.

* * *

Of course, finding a cheap parking spot for the reception may be more difficult than finding a sober Saturday night reveler on Seventh Avenue. The trolley project has decimated Eighth Avenue, making driving on the north side of the neighborhood next to impossible.

The new parking garage on the other side of Centro Ybor may be a solution, but it did not offer much salvation during Saturday night's Heatwave concert. Some private lots were charging as much as $15. Ouch.

* * *

I'm going to go ahead and take credit for The Cheesecake Factory's decision to place one of its fabulous restaurants in Tampa. I wrote to the owners nearly three years ago, extolling the virtues of our fair city as a great location for its varied menu and sinful slices.

You'll understand my zeal once you get a chance to dine there, even if you have to wait the usual two hours.

* * *

All the happy talk Tuesday about Channelside, the aquarium, and the port and trolley was nice, but none of this is going to work until people start living there. Lofts, condos or apartments -- the area needs something more than tourists to thrive.

* * *

After more than a month of columns, the task of emulating legendary San Francisco columnist Herb Caen remains daunting, but now I've got a little inside information.

Herb's widow, Anne Moeller Caen, offered this advice when I spoke to her recently.

"You have to be truthful," Mrs. Caen explained. "You have to check out stories and you have to be good to the readers.

"I still have people come up and give me letters that Herb wrote to them years ago."

Will do Mrs. Caen. Will do.

- Ernest Hooper can be reached at (813) 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com. His column appears on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

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