Dirt is finally moving on one of the most anticipated developments in downtown Tampa in the last decade.

Construction work on the Channel Club, a 21-story apartment tower and Publix Super Markets Inc. store, began Friday morning on a vacant lot between East Twiggs and East Madison streets.

Ken Stoltenberg, a principal with Mercury Advisors in Tampa, declined comment Friday. Mercury Advisors has been working on this development for years.

New signage on the site reveals more details on the players in the deal: Capital One Commercial Banking is listed along Mercury Advisors and KAST Construction, the general contractor. Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC, a Los Angeles-based hedge fund, is also listed.

Pre-construction work — tests and measuring to make way for a deep shaft foundation — began on the site in July.

The Publix store planned for the site will be 37,600 square feet, at the corner of East Twiggs Street and Meridian Avenue.

While the 21-story tower in the Channel Club site builds on downtown's growing residential density, the Publix represents a major milestone in Tampa's urban revitalization — a walkable, convenient grocery store.

With its track record of success, Publix's commitment to a neighborhood can also help lure other retailers to an area. Strategic Property Partners is planning on a full-service grocer in its district, about a quarter-mile from the Channel Club site.