TAMPA The Tampa City Council voted 7-0 today to approve a 20-year lease with the Columbia Restaurant Group for the historic Water Works building at the planned north end of The Tampa River Walk.
One idea for a new restaurant there is to use water from an adjacent spring in a microbrew operation if Columbia can secure the proper permits.
The group was selected in January 2012 from among four companies that submitted plans to renovate the building.
Columbia's plan called for about $1.9 million in privately funded improvements over two phases, with the main building turned into a rustic-themed, two-story, open-kitchen restaurant.
The Water Works building on the east side of the Hillsborough River is a local historic landmark, built in the early 1900s as the city's third potable water pumping station, next to a natural spring in a wooded area near Stetson University College of Law at West Seventh Avenue and North Highland Avenue.
Richard Gonzmart, whose family founded Columbia in Ybor City in 1905 and now operates in eight locations across Florida, described his vision for the project to the city council today.
The lease period would start Feb. 28 or earlier and includes a renewal option.