TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Tuesday marked the latest in a series of private redevelopment projects using once-vacant city-owned property, but even with three months left in his term, it might not be his last one.
The newest venture is a dual-branded Hyatt hotel on what used to be a parking lot next to Tampa City Hall.
HRI Properties of New Orleans, one of three developers to submit proposals for the 1-acre lot, paid the city $7.6 million for the block. The land was previously home to the Cold Storage Cafe, and before that had industrial uses on it. HRI's contractor had to remove eight storage tanks and 18 feet of contaminated soil to make the site ready for construction.
Now that it is ready, HRI is starting work on a 17-story building with a 230-room Hyatt Place Hotel and a 115-room extended-stay Hyatt House Hotel, plus parking for the public as well as the hotel's use. The project is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020 in time for the Super Bowl in February 2021.
Over the past eight years, Buckhorn and his top development aide, Bob McDonaugh, have taken long-unused city-owned properties and made deals that resulted in:
• The creation of Ulele restaurant in the city's old water department pump house.
• A boutique Le Méridien hotel opening in the long-closed federal courthouse on Florida Avenue.
• A block of Ybor City apartments on 1½ acres previously owned by the city, plus neighboring land purchased from the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg.
• A new Harpoon Harry's Crab house restaurant in the former home of the Tampa Bay History Center at the Tampa Convention Center.
And maybe still to come: a residential tower next to the David A Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The city agreed to sell the land to developers for $4 million in 2013. Six years later, city officials hope to close that sale as soon as next month. Also Buckhorn said a request for proposals to develop city-owned land in the West River area could come out as soon as next week.
"I love the sound of those cranes banging those pilings," he said. "That is the sound of progress as far as I'm concerned."
Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times