TAMPA — Hyde Park Village has been sold to a Boston-based retail development company that says it plans to make significant, long-term investments to the open-air shopping center.
WS Development said Monday it bought the retail, dining and office development in the heart of historic Hyde Park for an undisclosed price.
''What we find so appealing is its uniqueness,'' said Louis C. Masiello, the company's vice president of development. "We see a lot of opportunity here and will definitely be very active in improvements and investments in capital once we have spent a fair amount of time investigating.''
The 266,000-square-foot center, which is home to Pottery Barn, Lululemon, CineBistro and other retailers and restaurants, had been for sale since May. Masiello said WS Development was one of multiple bidders and a month ago started negotiating exclusively with the owner, Vornado Realty Trust.
WS Development will take over management of the center from Madison Marquette, a partial owner that had been running the center's leasing and day-to-day operations. Many of the employees will likely stay on with WS, Masiello said.
Naomi Mizell, co-owner of the Color Me Mine pottery shop in the village, said she didn't know what to think of the sale yet but was optimistic about the center's future.
"I'm hoping the company will bring some new shops,'' she said. "We could definitely use more walk-bys.''
Hyde Park Village is WS Development's first property in Florida. The privately owned retail development company has more than 85 properties nationwide totalling more than 20 million square feet of retail space and an additional 4 million under development. Its nearest property is in Jackson, Miss., a shopping center WS redeveloped around a Whole Foods grocery store.
WS plans to spend considerable time researching the center and its surrounding neighborhood before making any changes, Masiello said. And while the company hasn't marketed the village to tenants in its other properties, it expects many retailers will be drawn to Hyde Park's brick streets and parklike setting.
"A fair amount of the retail tenants we work with would never go into an enclosed mall," he said. "There is a tremendous reservoir of merchants who would thrive in a place like Hyde Park.''
The center at Swann and Rome avenues opened in 1985 as one of the first mixed-use projects in the country to revive a decades-old concept of combining stores, offices and housing in a town square setting. It thrived for years but started to lose tenants with the opening of International Plaza in Tampa and competition from other retail centers.
Vornado bought the village in 2005 with plans to expand it and add two mid-rise residential towers, projects that never happened. The center has struggled to attract and retain tenants but recently enjoyed an influx of new shops, most of them small, independent boutiques. The largest and most widely known was West Elm, a home decor store that opened last week in the former Williams-Sonoma spot.
Susan Thurston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (813) 225-3110 or @susan_thurston on Twitter.