Look at what has happened in the last 60 days… Two new hotels opened in the northern core of downtown Tampa, new multi-story residential developments have both broken ground and been completed, and Jeff Vinik has ownership of Channelside Bay Plaza allowing him to move forward with master-planning the Channelside Live world-class entertainment and business center.
We’ve also enjoyed grand-openings of the Waterworks Park and Gonzmarts’ Ulele Restaurant, along the northern downtown section of the river at the north terminus of the Riverwalk, which is scheduled for completion first quarter 2015.
Right next door in the Tampa Heights neighborhood there is the 50 acre Soho Capital property with the 70,000 SF trolley barn building. The trolley barn building is currently under renovation as a mixed use restaurant, commercial and event venue. Think A la Carte Pavilion meets Janus Landing meets Oxford Exchange.
Directly across the river from that is the 148 acre waterfront wedge of property being planned for redevelopment with some major motivating factors behind it.
The future is bright! We’re so excited and have been out sharing the news with everyone who will listen. Throughout the summer, we’ve shown a 20 minute presentation to many of the Rotary Clubs in the area. The presentation shows all of the exciting developments underway, how these projects have an impact on our broader community, and how we all can make a difference.
“In the past it has been our beaches, our weather, and our cost of living that have driven growth in our region. Today and in the future, much of that growth and success hinges on our ability to create and maintain a vibrant and welcoming city center.” Josh Dohring
Events going on in Channelside this weekend!
Labor Day Lighted Boat Parade and Channelside Fireworks
In the Heart of Ybor City
This story began about six months ago when I was between property showings in Ybor City and needed to grab a quick lunch. I remembered hearing from some friends about Cephas’ Jamaican Restaurant and decided to take the opportunity to check it out. Having spent seven years living in the U.S. Virgin Islands and sailing the entire Eastern Caribbean chain of islands, I was naturally a bit curious about this Jamaican oasis in Ybor City.
As I strolled cautiously and curiously up to a corrugated metal shack with a counter full of patrons and blenders blaring in the background, Cephas Gilbert pegged me out of the crowd. In his less than subtle manner, he exclaimed his estimation on my height and weight and followed with, “Brotha, you killin’ yourself, drink this aloe vera and lose that weight. I’d like to see you around 150lbs.” And there was the start of our friendship. After feeling the effects of that initial visit, I immediately googled up health benefits of aloe vera (and tamarind) and found a wealth of information on the benefits of these and other natural plants that Cephas touted. His website www.cephashotshop.com is a great place to start the research.
I was so intrigued that I decided to try it for at least five days in a row to see if it really had the cleansing and energy building effects Cephas proclaimed. Along the way, I learned that Cephas has been in Ybor City for over 30 years and has masses of followers. My five day challenge turned into six, and I was disappointed to find out that he closes his juice counter on Sundays. I later found that he tries to take one day off, but will help anyone who needs his shakes, even on Sundays.
For the past six months, I have been drinking a tamarind juice and aloe vera shake (center of aloe leaf gutted, ice, fresh coconut water, blend– viola!) almost every day and I’ve lost a healthy 15-20 lbs. My energy level is through the roof. We’re talking “fountain of youth-change your life” kind of stuff. It’s impossible to be around Cephas and not think a little more about your health and what we put in our bodies; he shares his information to everyone he greets. He likes to share. Whether that is honest information about your health or on any given day one might leave Cephas’ with avocado, papaya, mango, moringa, rambutan, tamarind or aloe leaves. He’s a giver and what he knows how to give is love, health and respect with a no-nonsense delivery.
After the course of my daily visits, I’ve had the chance to get to know Cephas. It is very clear that his mission is to help others live more healthfully and he knows that the aloe “will take you there.” He’s all about building community…and strength and health in the community and respecting each other.
I heard the story about the fire that closed his restaurant a number of years prior. I witnessed daily the slow progress of work happening in the restaurant to get the place cleaned out and operational.
It became clear to me that Cephas was struggling to get the longstanding restaurant back open and one day I inquired what it would take to get the restaurant open for business. He threw out a ballpark of $10,000 and 30 days, which didn’t sound like much to me, considering the amount of value, health, and community that reverberates from this unique property.
I felt that if people knew there was a way to help Cephas reopen the restaurant they would. Heck, I figured I knew a handful of people that would probably give $50 or $100 so I ran the idea by Cephas to set up a GoFundMe page to see if we could get some donations to help finish remodeling the restaurant and get it back open. Not sure of what to expect, I’m proud to share that over 75 people have given over $4,500 worth of donations so far and it turns out to be just the start of something that is taking flight.
The real story here now is how Ybor City, as a community, has taken notice and is stepping in to make sure they don’t lose Cephas and his Tropical Jamaican corner. To witness the level of camaraderie these business owners have shown to one of their own is inspiring.
In the Tampa Tribune, Paul Guzzo published a story about Cephas and our fundraiser and that really got people’s attention. It was then reported by Creative Loafing that the Crowbar in Ybor was going to have a special night (Sept 11) full of local bands where the proceeds will go to Cephas. We heard WMNF is holding a fundraiser also. Furthermore, Eric Snider from the Tampa Bay Business Journal, caught wind of the story and published, “Tampa real estate exec helping rebuild a quirky Ybor institution.” That story hit the business community and we saw another rise in donations and interest. The momentum of the energy to help Cephas rebuild and continue to help others has been exciting to witness. Not only have I felt the healing properties of his aloe vera shakes, but feel honored to be a part of such a wonderful community; a community that helps those who help others. As one of Cephas’ eclectic signs painted in bright islandly colors says in front of his juice stand, “Everybody does better when everybody does better.”
Groups and Organizations
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