The Tampa Riverwalk (the Riverwalk) has transformed the downtown waterfront into a vibrant setting, making our Hillsborough River the center of the City. The connectivity to our cultural institutions and public parks is a dynamic catalyst for economic development, community building, recreational activities and improving our quality of life.
The Riverwalk provides relief to the urban environment by connecting people with our abundant natural resources. With preservation of mangrove lined living shorelines and the restoration of native springs, our natural flora and fauna are on full display as we promote sustainability with an eye toward the future.
The Friends of the Riverwalk have been instrumental in activating this space to provide the types of experiences that were envisioned when development began over four decades ago. Their efforts to improve holiday décor, produce high quality events, and offer interactive activities that engage the entire community has elevated the Riverwalk’s identity.
The administering by the Friends of the Riverwalk of many Riverwalk programs such as to-go cups, personalized pavers, and banners have continued to define the area as the inclusive space that we strive for. We look forward to their involvement in the next chapters of the Riverwalk’s evolution.
It is an exciting and rewarding time to serve as your Mayor, and the continued progress on the existing Riverwalk combined with the future development of the West Riverwalk will serve to define and transform Tampa and add to its success as a great city.
2020 was quite a year for all of us! While Friends of the Riverwalk faced its own challenges over the previous twelve months, we also had many accomplishments that we would like to share. Thankfully, our new executive director, MaryBeth Williams, is a seasoned professional and hit the ground running, securing numerous grants and sponsorships to ensure and honor our commitment to providing free, family-friendly activities for residents and visitors.
We innovated with a mobile-based Halloween hunt and a lighted boat parade to celebrate Halloween. The Riverwalk Halloween Hunt was an inaugural program that required participants of all ages to solve Halloween-themed riddles, puzzles, and tasks virtually while exploring the beautiful Riverwalk in safety. We also co-hosted another first with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, the Halloween Lighted Boat Parade, and over 50 boats participated. Our intention is to have both fun Halloween activities as Riverwalk Halloween traditions. Additionally, the Holiday Spectacular, including an expansion to include Water Works Parks, the virtual Riverwalk Holiday Hunt and the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade were tremendous successes.
We remain hopeful and look forward to creating more innovations along Tampa’s Riverwalk. Keep your eye out for bigger and better reasons to join us in 2021!
Stay healthy and be safe,
First and foremost, thank you to our members, sponsors and partners for your continued support during 2020. The pandemic, while certainly challenging, did not stop us! Rather, it challenged us to serve our community in new, thoughtful and creative ways. While it was not safe to hold traditional events, many of our residents and visitors embraced the Riverwalk safely and actively participated in our celebrations, proving again what a true community jewel the Tampa Riverwalk is. It is an honor and pleasure to work with the Friends of the Riverwalk Board of Directors and to lead this organization. I look forward to continuing the momentum, and to a brighter and healthy future.
Doug Bartley, Chairman
Partner, Commercial Advisory Services
David DeVaney, Vice Chairman
Senior Project Manager, Beck Group
Deme Mekras, Treasurer
Alliance Director, Cushman Wakefield
Beth Leytham, Secretary
President, The Leytham Group
Troy Manthey, Immediate Past Chairman
President & CEO, Yacht Starship and Pirate Water Taxi
Anthony Derby, Executive Committee Member At-Large
Founder and President, Brew Bus
Ronald A. Christaldi
Managing Partner, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
Vice President Operations, Suffolk Construction
Financial Advisor, Raymond James
Infrastructure & Development Executive, Hillsborough County Government
Principal, Urban Planning and Design, Stantec
Chief Marketing Officer, Columbia Restaurant Group
Vice President, Construction Management, Strategic Property Partners
General Manager, Marriott Water Street
Director of Design and Construction, Tampa General Hospital
Stephanie M. Stanfield
Senior Vice President, Area Wealth Executive, Regions Private Wealth Management
Regional Business Development Manager, TLC Engineering Solutions
Board Member Emeritus
Board Member Emeritus
Total Liabilities: $75,009
Net Assets: $769,519
Program Service Expenses: $156,059
Management & General Expenses: $55,781
Fundraising Expenses: $0
The extension of the Riverwalk up to North Boulevard as well as the Armature Works boat docks were completed in September 2020 and are now available for public use. The Riverwalk is now 2.6 miles long.
The new Riverwalk connection from the Cass Street bridge down to the Riverwalk opened in mid-November.
The revamp of the Water Street Tampa Marriott was completed in 2020. Anchor & Brine, a new waterfront restaurant with outdoor seating, is now adjacent to the Riverwalk.
Once the Heron, located at 815 Water Street, is completed, the temporarily moved historical busts will be placed in their new permanent locations along the Riverwalk.
A new memorial honoring Gold Star families was unveiled at Tampa’s MacDill Park during a ceremony on Saturday, November 7, 2020.
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will serve to honor the more than 300 Gold Star families in the Tampa Bay region.
The privately funded Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is made of granite weighing over 15,000 pounds and measures 13 feet long and 7 feet high.
Gold Star families are those who have lost a Loved One in combat operations.
In June 2020, the City of Tampa was awarded a $24 Million BUILD (Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development) Grant to extend the Riverwalk west of the river and connect urban neighborhoods. When completed, the expansion will include a connected 12-mile path, separate from car traffic, that will reach north to Columbus Drive.
Permitting will soon begin for One Ashley Tower located along the Riverwalk at the intersection of Ashley Drive and Brorein Street. This will be a 37 story mixed-use development with 3,800 square feet of retail, 5,600 square feet of restaurant space and a 222 room hotel that will include a parking garage.
Renovation and expansion of the Tampa Convention Center is expected to begin in 2021 as well. The capital improvement project includes adding two floors that will create 18,000 square feet of new waterfront meeting rooms as well as upgrades to existing meeting spaces, ballrooms and exhibit halls. Traffic along the Riverwalk will temporality be rerouted during construction.
Small/Motor Boat Competition
Large/Sail Boat Competition
Our second year of spectacular holiday lights along the Tampa riverwalk presented by Mosaic displays included:
The event ran from Nov. 26 – Jan. 3.
Friends of the Riverwalk continued its successful corporate program in 2020. Corporate members and local businesses may promote their business or special event with the corporate banner program. Banners are displayed along the Riverwalk year-round as an effort to enhance the brand of the Tampa Riverwalk, as well as to promote our supportive members.
There are 110 light poles along the Tampa Riverwalk with 189 available banner spaces. 34 organizations advertised on Riverwalk banner space during 2020.
This program allows individuals to exit a licensed premise within the Riverwalk Specialty Center and possess and consume the alcoholic beverages anywhere within the confines of the Riverwalk open container area between the hours of 11 AM and 1 AM.
Participating vendors include:
Friends of the Riverwalk continued its successful Paving the Way program in 2020. The Paving the Way program has raised funds for the organization while adding to the identity and sense of place on the Riverwalk, allowing residents and visitors to commemorate special occasions, honor loved ones or share their love of Tampa on a personalized 12”x12” granite paver.
In 2020, 528 personalized pavers were engraved on the Tampa Riverwalk. Many marriage proposals, new additions to families, significant conferences and major events were memorialized on the Riverwalk this year.
Friends of the Riverwalk is working with Strategic Property Partners to place the temporarily moved historical monument busts once construction of C-block has been completed.
Friends of the Riverwalk is working with the City of Tampa to bring small vendor carts to the Riverwalk that provide pre-packaged food and beverage.
We hope to have vendor carts in place by Super Bowl.
While supporting our mission of making a fun and active Tampa Riverwalk, our corporate members also receive benefits such as Riverwalk Pole Banner logo placement, advertisements in our Attractions Brochure, VIP tickets to events, and recognition on our website.
The mission of Friends of the Riverwalk is to enhance the quality of life in Tampa’s Downtown and to build a stronger sense of community for all of Tampa Bay. We do this by connecting citizens and visitors alike with our waterfront through pedestrian and family friendly events, transit and water activities, arts and cultural amenities and outdoor fitness and enjoyment.