TAMPA — This time next week, a chain-link fence will ring a vacant lot on Bayshore Boulevard, putting an end to a popular parking spot for cyclists, walkers and joggers for more than a decade.
The lot at Bayshore and Bay to Bay Boulevard will close Sunday so groundwork can begin on a new 15-story condo tower, known as Aquatica on Bayshore. Crews will be taking soil borings and doing other prep work at the site.
“The lion's share you can't really do with people parking all over the place,” said Bill Robinson, president of Citivest Construction, the company developing the 32-unit tower.
Robinson bought the property about a decade ago. He shelved his plans for the tower in 2008 as the housing market melted down.
As the project gets underway, about a third of the units have been claimed, said real estate agent Toni Everett, who's handling the sales. Units start at $838,000 and go up to $2.1 million for one of two penthouses.
The unpaved lot has been leased by the city of Tampa since 1998. In an area with few places to stow a car, the lot has been a tree-shaded island of parking for visitors who exercise on the 6-mile, unbroken, waterfront sidewalk that lines Bayshore.
The site's location near the midpoint of Bayshore has also made it the high-profile home of the Bayshore Patriots, who have erected a flagpole and sign on the corner of the property.
Patriots President Bill Hamblin said the flag and sign are on a patch of city land and will stay put. He said he thinks members of his group will be able to park elsewhere nearby when they gather to honor soldiers returning from war and first-responders.
Joggers, walkers and cyclists will have to find a new place to park, however.
The city is looking for a location to provide replacement parking, said Ali Glisson, spokeswoman for Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Everett said anyone who gets bumped can find parking nearby on MacDill Avenue or under the Selmon Expressway.
“These are all jocks,” Everett said. “They can handle going an extra block.”
Robert Bolen is one of the joggers who will have to make new plans.
He pulled in to the parking at lunch time Friday ready for a run. He has been using the Bayshore lot for a year or more.
“I like it because it's right in the middle,” he said. “I can go anywhere.”