It’s a lot to take in: Nearly 3 million square feet of new commercial development, totaling more than $1 billion in development costs, in downtown Tampa over the next five to seven years.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik unveiled his vision for the land he’s acquired in downtown Tampa on Wednesday. He controls about 40 acres — 30 owned and 10 leased, about 25 of which are part of the development at this point — around Amalie Arena, under his holding company Strategic Property Partners.
Here’s what you need to know:
Expect to see cranes in the air by this time next year. Vinik said he intends to start moving dirt by summer 2015 — likely with the roadway configuration, in which Water Street will be extended northward, to connect with East Cumberland Avenue. East Cumberland will be extended to connect with Meridian. He wants to begin vertical construction by December 2015.
Transportation is a huge part of this. Beyond the street reconfiguration, SPP “is prepared to take a leadership role in the future” of the TECO Line Streetcar System, said Jim Shimberg, COO and general counsel, making it more connected to key parts of downtown and a more reliable mode of transportation.
Water-based transportation is a big part of the plan, Shimberg said, and could include water taxis, high- speed ferries and electric boats taking doctors and medical students between Tampa General Hospital and the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.
Vinik is getting in the economic development game — and his plans are supported by Gov. Rick Scott. Vinik and his team are planning to recruit a corporate headquarters to the site, which they’ve been saying for months. They now have the backing of Gray Swoope, CEO of Enterprise Florida, and Gov. Rick Scott.
“We can do all the things right from a state perspective, but if we don’t have a competitive product, our strategy fails,” Swoope said. “This product doesn’t exist anywhere else in the state.”
New life for Channelside Bay Plaza. The plan right now is to remove the southwest wing of the building, said Andrew Wright, CEO of Franklin Street in Tampa, who’s been charged with revitalizing the plaza. There will be also be contiguous green space around the plaza and “an enhanced tenant mix,” Wright said — starting in January 2015 when Hablo Taco is scheduled to open there.
Water, water everywhere. As SPP promised, the downtown waterfront is an anchor of the development. Plans show a public mooring area, a water taxi terminal and a boardwalk in front of the RiverWalk. Vinik told those gathered at the press event that he wants the community to “”really activate, really engage with the waterfront.”