TAMPA — Two 21-story apartment towers are in the works for Harbour Island, with construction on each targeted to start by the end of this year.
Two different groups are developing the towers, which would flank the 20-story Plaza Harbour Island condominium on Knights Run Avenue.
On the west side of the Plaza, the Related Group from Miami is working on plans for a tower with 340 apartments.
The units would include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, with an average rent of about $2,400 a month, said Arturo Peña, the Related Group's vice president and development manager.
The building itself would have a Parisian look, Peña said, with "a very elegant porte-cochere entry," mansard roofs and arched windows. Related has arranged for tenants to park in the garage at the neighboring Two Harbour Place building and to use a new skywalk to move between the tower and the garage.
The Related Group is no stranger to Tampa. Less than a year ago, it opened the Pierhouse at Channelside, a four-story, four-building complex with 356 apartments at 120 S Meridian Ave.
On the east side of the Plaza, another partnership between three well-known Tampa developers — Robert Moreyra of Forge Capital Partners, Greg Minder of the Intown Group and Phillip Smith of the Framework Group — is working on plans for a second high-rise.
It would have 235 to 240 apartments, most of them two-bedroom units and two-bedrooms with dens, plus parking spread out on the first seven levels of the building, Minder said.
Each group says a ground-breaking in late 2014 could mean an opening in early 2016.
Both projects have long had the zoning they need to move forward and are allowed by the Development of Regional Impact approval for Harbour Island, said Bob McDonaugh, Tampa's administrator for economic opportunity.
As a result, neither tower was required to go to the City Council for rezoning, officials said.
With the Related Group's project, the only piece that has gone to the council is the release of an easement needed to build the sky bridge.
The garage has the spaces for the tenants, said McDonaugh, whose understanding is that Related is building fewer units than the site is zoned for. When Beneficial Corp. financier Finn Caspersen developed Harbour Island, he was thinking about moving some of his company's operations into Two Harbour Place and running overlapping shifts around the clock there, McDonaugh said, so "that building has a lot more parking than a traditional office building would have."
The council approved the sky bridge on June 26 over the objections of attorneys for a group of Plaza condominium owners who oppose the Related Group's plans.
Opponents' attorney John Grandoff III, who usually represents developers, says his clients are not anti-development. Rather, he said, they worry that allowing the new tower's residents to park in about 560 spaces in the Two Harbour Place garage would create traffic problems.
Residents are concerned about the potential for congestion and drivers looking for shortcuts as motorists enter and leave garages for the new tower, the offices at Two Harbour Place, plus the nearby Grand View tower and ParkCrest residential complex.
Grandoff said his clients at the Plaza want the Related Group's plans to better address the project's impact on traffic.
On July 17, Grandoff asked the council to reconsider its vote to okay the sky bridge. Two council members were absent, however, so the council carried the matter over to its meeting this Thursday. He contends the city never legally acquired the easement to begin with, so it cannot release it to the developer for the sky bridge. Those rights, he said, belong to his clients.
At the Related Group, Peña said the long-standing DRI and zoning approval means the project is legally entitled to develop the apartments it plans, and the city attorney has approved its agreement for residents to use the spaces in the parking garage.
"The question is whether there's a sky bridge or not," he said.
Speaking to the City Council last week, Mayor Bob Buckhorn left no doubt which side he's on.
"I would hope that you would continue that forward progress and not be distracted by obscure legal maneuvering," he said, referring to the council's vote approving the sky bridge. "That is an important building for us. Related is an important investor in this community. They have done Pierhouse. … They are a quality developer, and we need their investment in this community."
Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times