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2021 Annual Report

LETTER FROM MAYOR JANE CASTOR, CITY OF TAMPA


LETTER FROM DOUG BARTLEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

Happy New Year!  2021 marked my final year as Chair of the Friends of the Riverwalk.  While the pandemic continued to negatively influence our goal of activation and promoting events along the Riverwalk, we had many successes.  We added a July 4th boat parade coupled with the Mayor’s Boom by the Bay.  The Holiday Lighted Boat Parade had more than 115 boats registered for a spectacular, live-streamed event, with several other festively decorated boats that joined the fun. We also added several new pirate-themed holiday floating displays near Water Works Park and illuminated the oak trees along the Riverwalk to augment our Holiday Spectacular. Our financials remain very strong and we increased our cash position by almost 20% over the last year.            

We also are very excited and fully support the cultural art expansions that will dramatically impact the experience along the Riverwalk.  The Straz, Tampa Museum of Art, and the Convention Center all have planned expansions and renovations that will have a positive impact on our community.  The recently announced Pendry Hotel will complement Tampa’s skyline by adding one of the most luxurious hotel chains to the Riverwalk.

I am delighted that David Devaney has been elected as the Chair of the Friends of the Riverwalk for 2022 and has hit the ground running.  He will undoubtedly do great things for the organization as we advance our mission and vision. Keep your eyes out for bigger and better reasons to join us in 2022!

Stay healthy, be safe, and have a great year!


LETTER FROM MARYBETH WILLIAMS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Happy New Year and thank you to our members, sponsors and partners for your continued support during 2021. We persisted through another year with the pandemic and found new opportunities to thrive in 2021. While 2020 taught us to think outside the box for creative ways to promote and activate the Riverwalk in a safe manner, 2021 allowed us the chance to further expand on those ideas and serve our community in thoughtful and innovative ways such as boat parades, mobile-based scavenger hunts and even a Super Bowl Experience!  Many residents and visitors embraced the Riverwalk safely and actively participated in the celebrations, proving again that the Tampa Riverwalk is a true community jewel. 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 into 2022, and to a brighter and healthy future.

Respectfully,
MaryBeth Williams


FINANCES

CONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT

Tampa Museum of Art Expansion

Rendering courtesy WEISS/MANFREDI

The $68 million project will transform the downtown skyline as it

  • Expands the museum’s gross area from 69,000 to 125,000 sq. ft.
  • Expands the education space from 1,400 to more than 12,000 sq. ft.
  • Grows the exhibition and collection space from 14,800 to more than 43,000 sq. ft.
  • Enhances the visitor experience with almost 12,000 sq. ft. of space dedicated to a new covered entrance, lobby, store, and café.
  • Triples the event space, from 7,200 to 25,600 sq. ft., that can host dinners for 500 and other events.
  • Rejuvenates outdoor spaces that extend beyond the museum structure
  • Creates pedestrian plazas between the public park spaces adjacent to the Riverwalk, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, and two new dog parks.
  • Expected completion in 2024

STRAZ CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

The Master Plan for the New Straz

  • Preserves the state-of-the-art experience for future generations
  • Changes from inward-looking to outward reaching
  • Leverages the prominent riverfront location
  • Provides community accessibility
  • Enhances the guest experience
  • Adds capacity to meet demand by creating more event space
  • Expanding its cultural offerings
  • Keeps the Straz at the forefront of Florida’s cultural institutions

West River Multimodal Safety and Network Improvements Project

  • The City of Tampa was awarded $24 million through a federal grant via the US Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) program. The City’s match will be an additional $6 million for a total Design-Build cost of $30 million.
  • This 6-mile project involves completing the remaining gaps on the west side of the river, as well as specific roadways, to ultimately create a continuous 12.2-mile multi-use pathway with enhanced, safe crossing features at major roadways.
  • Several adjacent city streets will be enhanced to provide better pedestrian connectivity, bicycle facilities, and improved multimodal safety for all users.
  • This project will expand connections and provide a variety of safe, accessible mobility options for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the neighborhoods that make up the West River area.  Four areas of living shorelines, along the western side of the river, are also included in this project.
  • The proposed multi-use path segments on the river's west side are Tony Jannus Park, H.B. Plant Park, the University of Tampa, Tampa Preparatory School, Howard W. Blake High School, Stewart Middle School, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Recreation Center. In addition to the BUILD project, independent, private developers will complete two segments south of Historic Plant Park in the future.
  • Two over-water, pedestrian underpass bridges will provide safe connectivity beneath both the Platt Street Bridge and the Brorein Street Bridge.
  • Expected advertisement for this Design-Build project is the summer of 2022.

Pendry Tampa

A new modern luxury experience to the Tampa Riverwalk area featuring

  • 220 design-forward hotel guest rooms
  • 207 private Pendry Residences
  • 3 signature food and beverage offerings
  • A world-class spa and fitness center
  • A rooftop pool
  • A myriad of Riverwalk fronting retail and restaurant outlets
  • More than 11,000 square feet of private event space. 
  • Debuting in 2024 

TAMPA CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION AND RENOVATIONS

  • $38 million renovation, largest improvement since opening in 1990
  • Capital improvement plan will result in better customer experience, increased efficiency and cost savings
  • Tampa Riverwalk currently rerouted north of the convention center during construction
  • Phase one includes construction of 18,000 square feet of new meeting space on two levels with 18 new waterfront meeting rooms as well as a new terrace and outdoor space
  • Phase two will include upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Construction expected to be complete by June 2023

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

Website

FACEBOOK

TWITTER


Other


TAMPA ATTRACTIONS & RIVERWALK BROCHURE

Friends of the Riverwalk produces the #1 brochure pulled in racks throughout the Tampa Bay area. This publication provides great awareness of what our beautiful city has to offer including local attractions and entertainment, hotels, restaurants, transportation options and exciting community events. The brochure is printed twice a year, once in the spring/summer and again in the fall/winter.  More than 150,000 of these brochures are distributed around Tampa, the region and the state.


SIGNATURE EVENTS

2021 RIVERFEST

  • Cancelled due to COVID-19
  • Save the date for Riverfest 2022 scheduled for May 6 – May 7

2021 July 4th Boat Parade

  • Inaugural July 4th Boat Parade and Blessing of the Fleet, a part of Mayor Castor’s Boom by the Bay festivities
  • 26 boats officially registered, but several hundred boats were festively decorated
  • A free, safe opportunity for families to enjoy the 4th of July, the waterfront and the Riverwalk
  • Thousands of spectators lined the Riverwalk and parks to enjoy the patriotic boat parade
  • Judges were pairs from Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Tampa Bay
  • Trophies awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place best-decorated boats in the small and large boat categories
  • Boat Parade sponsors included Suffolk and Famous Tate
  • Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) and Hillsborough Special Events Partnership Grants assisted with the expenses

2021 RIVERWALK TRICK OR TREAT

  • 5th Annual Riverwalk Trick or Treat
  • A free, family-friendly, community event
  • 43 treat stations from Water Works Park to MacDill Park
  • 1.7 miles of Riverwalk
  • 12 community sponsors
  • 5,000 trick or treat bags distributed
  • 15,000 estimated attendance
  • 3 Riverwalk parks activated – Water Works Park, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, and MacDill Park
  • 3 DJs
  • 8 food trucks
  • 4 photo stations along the trick or treat route
  • Costume Contest – 3 age groups, 4 winners in each age group
  • Costume Contest Judges were National Pediatric Cancer Foundation Warriors
  • Halloween Lighted Boat Parade hosted by National Pediatric Cancer Foundation and Friends of the Riverwalk following the trick or treat event with more than 30 boats registered
  • Live media coverage by ABC Action News and Fox13
  • All proceeds were used to cover the cost of the event and excess applied toward future events to continue providing FREE community events to the public
  • Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) and Hillsborough Special Events Partnership Grants assisted with the expenses

2021 RIVERWALK HALLOWEEN HUNT

  • 2nd Annual Riverwalk Halloween Hunt
  • A free, family-friendly and not-too-spooky, mobile-based scavenger hunt along the Riverwalk
  • More than 400 teams registered to play
  • Attendance estimated at 1,500
  • Event ran from Oct. 11–31
  • Prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners
  • 24 hotspot locations and 45 tasks to complete
  • Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) and Hillsborough Special Events Partnership Grants assisted with the expenses

2021 HOLIDAY LIGHTED BOAT PARADE

  • 115 boats registered, hundreds participated
  • Event live-streamed by WTSP and co-casted over the Riverwalk Facebook page
  • Judges were pairs from Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Tampa Bay
  • Trophies awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place best-decorated boats in the small and large boat categories
  • All boaters received prize packages at the North and South Pole locations
  • Captains Meeting sponsored by Yacht StarShip and Brew Bus Brewing
  • Boat Parade sponsors included Presenting sponsor, Freedom Boat Club and Supporting sponsors, Friends of the Riverwalk, Yacht StarShip and Pirate Water Taxi
  • Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) and Hillsborough Special Events Partnership Grants assisted with the expenses

2021 HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR

Our third year of spectacular holiday lights along the Tampa riverwalk presented by Mosaic displays included:

  • New this year, the official Holiday Harbour Tree was lit by May Castor on November 29
  • A 35′ tall LED lighted Christmas tree that floated in the harbor
  • A holiday selfie station at the Pirate Water Taxi ticket booth
  • Lighted garland and red bows on the Riverwalk light poles
  • Meet Me Under the Mistletoe Display on Kennedy Plaza
  • The festively decorated gazebo in Water Works Park
  • New this year, a 12’ lighted Christmas tree display on the Water Works Park dock
  • The Grand Oaks in Water Works Park were aglow with thousands of twinkling white lights
  • A gingerbread lighted display floating in the river by Water Works Park
  • A toy train lighted display floating in the river by Water Works Park
  • New this year, A TEDDY ON A TOY HORSE LIGHTED DISPLAY FLOATING IN THE RIVER BY WATER WORKS PARK
  • New this year, A 22' PIRATE SHIP LIGHTED DISPLAY FLOATING IN THE RIVER BY WATER WORKS PARK
  • New this year, A 21' PIRATE SWORD FIGHT LIGHTED DISPLAY FLOATING IN THE RIVER BY WATER WORKS PARK
  • New this year, A PIRATE WITH A SPYGLASS AND TREASURE CHEST LIGHTED DISPLAY FLOATING IN THE RIVER BY WATER WORKS PARK
  • Two LIGHTED PINE TREE FORESTS FLOATING IN THE RIVER BY WATER WORKS PARK
  • New this year, a Florida-themed holiday selfie station located at Laurel Street Park

The holiday spectacular event ran from Nov. 26–Jan. 2.

2021 RIVERWALK HOLIDAY HUNT

  • 2nd Annual Riverwalk Holiday Hunt
  • A free, family-friendly mobile-based holiday themed scavenger hunt along the Riverwalk
  • More than 400 teams registered to play
  • 1,500 estimated attendance
  • Event ran from Dec. 17 –Jan. 2
  • Prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners
  • 25 hotspot locations and 62 tasks to complete
  • Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) and Hillsborough Special Events Partnership Grants assisted with the expenses

2021 Riverwalk Clean-up Facts

Friends of the Riverwalk hosted several Riverwalk clean-ups this year in partnership with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and The Florida Aquarium.  Trash caught in our waterways tends to wash up on the Riverwalk shoreline specifically around USF Park and Cotanchobee Park where there is plentiful mangrove vegetation.  Riverwalk volunteers work tirelessly to keep our Riverwalk, waterways and shorelines free of trash and debris.  Consider volunteering at our next clean-up and make a difference!   

  • 5 clean-up events
  • 237 volunteers
  • 711 hours
  • 205 bags of trash
  • 770 pounds of trash

PROGRAMS

Friends of the Riverwalk continued its successful corporate program in 2021. Corporate members and local businesses promoted their business and special events with the corporate banner program. Foot traffic along the Riverwalk exceeds 100,000 visitors each month.  Banners are displayed along the Riverwalk year-round 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 202 available banner spaces. 41 organizations advertised on Riverwalk banner space during 2021.

RIVERWALK SPECIALTY CUPS

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:

  • Columbia Café at the Tampa Bay History Center
  • Four Green Fields
  • Malio’s Prime Steakhouse
  • Marriott Water Street
  • Pirate Water Taxi
  • Remedy
  • Riverwalk Café
  • Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk
  • Straz Center for the Performing Arts
  • The Sail
  • Ulele Restaurant and Ulele Spring Brewery

PERSONALIZED RIVERWALK PAVERS

Friends of the Riverwalk continued its successful Paving the Way program in 2021. The Paving the Way program has raised funds for the organization.  It also adds 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 2021, 457 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.  If you have a special Riverwalk paver story, we would love to hear it!


HISTORICAL MONUMENT TRAIL

After completion of the Heron on the eastern end of the Riverwalk, seven of our temporarily displaced historical monuments were moved to their new permanent locations.  We encourage residents and visitors to explore the Riverwalk Historic Monument Trail where 30 beautiful bronze and marble busts tell the story of many noteworthy people and significant events that have shaped the history of Tampa and Hillsborough County.


2021 CORPORATE MEMBERSHIP

DIAMOND

PLATINUM

GOLD

SILVER

BRONZE

2021 Tampa Attractions & Riverwalk Brochure Corporate Membership

PLATINUM

GOLD

SILVER


MISSION

Working in partnership with the city to develop, activate and promote Tampa’s downtown waterfront.

VISION

To be America's Iconic Riverwalk.

PURPOSE

  • Support further expansion and development that increases community access to the waterfront, improves mobility and connectivity and increases people-oriented uses and experiences along the Riverwalk.
  • Create an inviting outdoor destination showcasing downtown parks, museums, attractions, and businesses through outdoor public events and programming.
  • Build a stronger sense of community for everyone.

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