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Have you been to the Tampa Riverwalk lately? It’s bustling with life and energy in every direction with people dining, biking and strolling, especially on the weekends. Now there’s another Riverwalk possibility with eBOATS TAMPA.
Josh and Anndrea Dohring own the new amenity located at the docks near the Tampa Convention Center. The “e” is for electric, which allows for a quiet, fume-free ride on the Hillsborough River and into Hillsborough Bay. You can bring your own food and drink before grabbing the keys to the “Buccaneer” or the “Luna” and see what’s happening in the Channel District, enjoy sunset in the Bay or people watch along the waterfront cruising quietly with the sound of the water gently lapping behind.
Electric boat rentals launch at Tampa Convention Center docks-By Richard Mullins, Tampa Tribune (November 2, 2012)
The inner bay of downtown may soon see a small fleet of cozy little tourist boats, each one motoring along in complete silence.
The startup company eBoats Tampa, which began operations with a soft opening this week, rents all-electric boats that can hold about a dozen passengers. Boats will tie up and charge up at the floating docks downtown that front the Tampa Convention Center.
“These boats are the right fit for downtown,” eBoats founder Josh Dohring said. “There’s no engine, so they’re very quiet. There are no fumes, noise, gas smell or vibration. It’s just a quiet, really soft and comfortable way to get around the water.”
Rental rates will vary, and so will the exact business plan and fleet size, but the first vessels in Dohring’s fleet will cost $85 an hour for someone to take the wheel and potentially motor as far up the river as Lowry Park Zoo and out as far as looping around Davis Islands.
The boats are made in California by Duffy Electric Boats. Often called “Duffies,” they can — with an overnight charge — run for eight to 10 hours. Managers at the dock in Tampa will caution against anyone driving the boats into the industrial port area or by the cruise ships in the Channel District.
Dohring emphasizes that this is very much a side business for him and that he remains a top executive at the downtown commercial real estate firm Dohring Group, run by his family.
For six years, he ran a charter sailing company, which got him thinking about what could be done for downtown Tampa.
The inner bay has at least two other water taxi or boat rental companies: Tampa Water Taxi Co., run by “Captain Larry” Salkin, and Tampa River Taxi, run by Cliff Conatser.
Dohring’s project, however, is more geared to self-driving tourists and convention-goers who want to toddle around to see the riverfront and the mansions on Davis Islands and Harbour Island.
Next, Dohring wants to add rentals of things such as stand-up paddleboards and smaller paddleboats that come with a power-assist feature — just in case tourists want an even more leisurely float-around, or in case they pedal themselves out too far and run out of steam to pedal their way back.
The company will have a website at www.eboatstampa.com.
New waterfront efforts continue to spur downtown renaissance-By Mark Holan, Tampa Bay Business Journal (September 21, 2012)
TAMPA — Efforts to reconnect downtown Tampa to its waterfront roots appear to be reaching critical mass.
Details are emerging about a fourth museum at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park along the Hillsborough River west of Ashley Drive.
At the same time, an electric boat service is being introduced on the riverfront and channel district around Harbor Island and Davis Islands.
The city has received an $11 million grant to complete the remaining portions of the Riverwalk from south of Kennedy Boulevard, northward past Curtis Hixon up to Tampa Heights.
There, the city is sprucing up the long-neglected Water Works Park and Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart is developing a restaurant in an old pumping station.
“We are working very hard to energize the riverfront,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said.
With the Republican National Convention completed, commercial real estate professionals, business people and public officials are renewing their focus on creating a downtown renaissance that attracts new jobs, new residents and other economic development.
Those efforts include renovating the historic federal courthouse on Florida Avenue as a boutique hotel and developing the Encore mixed use project in northeast downtown. Other potential projects include building downtown’s first new office tower in 20 years and rebranding Channelside Bay Plaza under new local ownership.
Waterfront work begins soon
Reconnecting the city to its waterfront is a top priority.
Buckhorn said work on the last leg of the Riverwalk and at Water Works Park would begin by the end of the year.
He is keeping details of the proposed fourth museum at Curtis Hixon closer to the vest, but did not deny a Tampa Bay Times report naming the Palm Harbor-based Two Red Roses Foundation as interested in the site.
The foundation is dedicated to acquisition, restoration, and exhibition of furniture, pottery and tiles, lighting, textiles, and fine arts from the American arts & crafts movement.
Businessman Rudy Ciccarello, founder of Florida Infusion Services, started the collection in 1997. He did not return a telephone call.
The city is considering allowing the foundation to build a museum on the concrete strip on the south side of the park, near Rivergate Tower. The space currently provides restrooms and equipment storage.
The site was originally contemplated for retail and restaurant uses, but those businesses never got off the ground, in part due to the economic recession.
“I am glad the city is figuring out how to do something with that retail space,” said Brenda Dohring Hicks, CEO of The Dohring Group Inc., a downtown commercial real estate firm. “We’ve been trying for a number of years to get something done there.”
She also serves on the board of trustees at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, which earlier this year moved into “The Cube” at Rivergate Tower, on the south side of Curtis Hixon. Her son, broker Josh Dohring, is starting an electric boat business, tentatively called eBoats Tampa, on the riverfront.
Early last year The Dohring Group launched Tampa Bay Sailing Tours, offering tours to individuals and groups on a 36-foot catamaran. Tampa Water Taxi Co. also operates on the Hillsborough.
Dohring’s 21-foot electric boats can carry up to 12 passengers.
“Historically, waterfront amenities in downtown Tampa have barely made it on the radar,” Josh Dohring said. “[The waterfront] is showing amazing signs of life and is perfectly poised for growth as the general market improves and downtown continues to add residents, businesses and visitors to keep up with the strong demand we are already experiencing.”
Joyce Zevola, manager at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, doesn’t have any problems welcoming a new museum to the neighborhood.
“We don’t really compete with each other, we compliment each other,” she said.
The Glazer Children’s Museum and Tampa Museum of Art are located on the north side of Curtis Hixon.
Doug Brewer, executive vice president of In-Rel Properties, which owns Rivergate, also welcomes more museum activity.
“Every major city has an arts district,” he said. “We’ve made a good start, but the area needs more. I think this is only good.”