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Construction cranes on the horizon in 2019 at Water Street Tampa

Water Street Tampa’s developers plan a 20-story office tower with 380,000 square feet of space at 1001 Water Street, next to the new medical school building already under construction for the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. It will be linked with the med school building by a green plaza and will have nine terraces, plus a rooftop terrace with its own event space. Rendering via Strategic Property Partners
Published Dec. 26, 2018

TAMPA — More construction cranes are on the horizon in Tampa for 2019, many (but probably not all) of them at Water Street Tampa.

"We're going to keep the accelerator down and keep moving ahead," developer and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said at a recent groundbreaking for 815 Water Street, a twin pair of apartment towers that is the first residential project to be built in the 53-acre development.

To create Water Street Tampa, a $3 billion project, Vinik teamed up with Cascade Investment, the private capital fund of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, to form Strategic Property Partners.

EXTRA WIDE SIDEWALKS, 650 NEW TREES: A shady green vision for Water Street Tampa's main thoroughfare

During the first phase of construction, Strategic executives have said there could be 20 construction cranes at a time working on up to 10 buildings simultaneously.

"There's a lot more to come for us," Strategic CEO James Nozar said at the same groundbreaking in November. "You're only seeing kind of the tip of the iceberg. We're so fortunate to have started four projects this year" — a JW Marriott hotel, the twin apartment towers, the re-creation of Channelside Bay Plaza as Sparkman Wharf and a district-wide cooling plant — "we have another six that are going to start" in 2019. "This is going to be a very different place this time next year."

Projects expected to break ground this year include:

• Two more residential projects, 1010 Water Street and 1077 Water Street, designed by two New York City-based architectural firms, Morris Adjmi Architects and Cookfox Architects, respectively.

• A Marriott Edition Hotel & Residences, with 173 hotel rooms topped by 35 condominiums.

• 1001 Water Street, a 20-story office tower next to the new 13-story University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute building, which itself is projected to open in late 2019.

"It will be the city's first trophy Class A office building built in over 25 years," Nozar said of 1001 Water Street. "It's a 180,000-square-foot building. … We can't announce any of the tenants we're talking to, (but) there's many. We're very excited about the progress on that project."

While discussion is picking up nationwide about the possibility that economic growth will slow into a recession, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he's not worried about a downturn undermining construction or leasing at Water Street Tampa.

That's because Vinik and Cascade have enough money on their own that they don't have to take out typical development loans, he said. And as developer-owners, they do not have to worry about pre-leasing their projects, finishing them on a tight schedule and selling them quickly to pay off construction loans.

"We're going to go through our blips in the cycle," Buckhorn said. "The good thing is, the developers have the wherewithal to withstand those types of cycles. They're committed to the long-term, 30-year window, not a five-year flip."

Water Street Tampa, however, won't necessarily have a monopoly on high-rise construction in the coming year.

Away from downtown, The Bromley Companies have said construction is expected to start in 2019 on Midtown One, a seven-story office building at Bromley's $500 million Midtown Tampa project. The 22-acre site is just southeast of Interstate 275's interchange at N Dale Mabry Highway.

And at the former site of the failed Trump Tower, developers said in November that the 50-plus story Riverwalk Place residential tower appears to be on track for a start to construction in 2019. The project is being developed by Larry Feldman and Two Roads Development, based in South Florida.

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times.

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