Channel District History

The character of the Channel District, from its beginnings over 75 years ago, was maritime - related; a hardworking, industrial and commercial area, developed to serve the Port of Tampa, and the private shipping interests which gave Tampa its earliest reputation. Until the mid-1970's, when the commercial use of containerized shipping displaced general cargo shipping in Tampa, the District, known over the years as the Estuary, La Draga, and the Ybor Channel area, was home to ships' chandlers, shipping companies, bonded warehouses and thousands of longshoremen loading and unloading general cargo ships.

The late 1970's and 1980's were a period of decline and transition for the area, lagging behind redevelopment efforts in Downtown and Ybor City. It was a time when property ownership struggled to keep tenants in buildings and property values dropped. During that period, the larger property owners in the area, including the Gulf Florida Terminal Company, the Tampa Port Authority, Anthony Distributors, Inc., the Coca Cola Bottling Company, and Bonanni Ship Supply formed the Ybor Channel Redevelopment Association, which promoted and positioned the area for eventual redevelopment

A key turning point for the area was the decision by the Tampa Port Authority to acquire waterfront property on Garrison and Ybor Channels in the mid - 1980's, and develop an ambitious master plan for the property's redevelopment. The original master plan was never constructed. However, it was revisited in the early 1990's, and has evolved today into Garrison Seaport.