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Water Street Tampa starts work on 20-story office tower

Water Street Tampa's developers have started construction on 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
Water Street Tampa's developers have started construction on 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 Jul. 9, 2019

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa has started construction on downtown Tampa's first new "trophy" office tower in more than a quarter of a century, developers said Tuesday.

The project, a 20-story building at 1001 Water Street, will rise next to the new 13-story building nearing completion for the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. It is expected to be complete in late 2021 and will have about 380,000 square feet of office space and retail, a green plaza shared with the USF medical school and a rooftop terrace.

'TAMPA IS OVERDUE': Water Street Tampa plans downtown's first new office towers in decades

The building's design, by CookFox Architects of New York City, is based on a "biophilic" design philosophy that developers say has been shown to reduce stress, enhance creativity, improve well-being and expedite healing. At 1001 Water Street, developers say that will mean using natural materials, planning for lots of plants throughout the building and making sure plenty of sunlight streams in through floor-to-ceiling windows and nine double-height exterior terraces.

And Water Street's developers say they will carry that approach throughout the 56-acre development, which has been named as the first neighborhood anywhere certified by the International WELL Building Institute as a healthy community for walking, working and living

DRIVING LONG-TERM VALUE: Water Street Tampa is the first neighborhood in the world to get this wellness certification

"It is not just the first new trophy office tower in Tampa in decades, but the first office of its kind," Strategic Property Partners chief executive officer James Nozar said in an announcement about the start of construction. "We are seeking to re-imagine the workplace, where employees, their experiences and overall well-being are at the heart of the design and functionality of the space."

Strategic Property Partners, the development company for Water Street Tampa, has said it is building 1001 Water Street on "spec" — meaning without having a set number of pre-leased agreements in hand before starting construction. That's possible because of the capital that Strategic can draw on from its founders: Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment, the personal wealth fund of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Gross rents are expected to be in the mid $50s per square foot, not including parking.

So far, the audit, tax and consulting firm RSM has signed a lease for a full floor in 1001 Water Street, said David Bevirt, Strategic's executive vice president for corporate leasing and strategy. In addition, discussions are under way with two more prospective tenants, one for another floor and a second for four floors.

"It's where we expected to be," Bevirt said in a call from London, where he was meeting with brokers and site selectors. "If you can pre-lease well over 30 or 50 percent of the building, that's exceptional in a pre-lease market. ... We're very happy with the activity and how the market has received our product."

Bevirt said he expects a smaller percentage of tenants to be local regional firms and a larger percentage to be national and international firms. That's why he went to London and also why he has traveled to New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Silicon Valley and plans to go to Boston. It's also why Strategic is working with the organizations like the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. to raise Tampa's profile and make the case for why Water Street is a good value compared to what's available in larger, more expensive cities.

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The tower at 1001 Water Street is one of three office projects planned for Water Street Tampa, a $3 billion mixed-use development near Amalie Arena. Strategic also is converting the old Channelside Bay Plaza complex into Sparkman Wharf, which will have 180,000 square feet of loft-style offices. It also plans to build a 19-story office tower at 400 Channelside Drive with 500,000 square feet of space accessible by two lobbies, as well as a 27,000-square-foot outdoor garden on the fourth floor with space for business meetings, informal gatherings, events, fitness activities and work breaks.

Together, the three projects eventually are expected to bring another 1 million square feet of Class A office space to downtown Tampa. Water Street's plans call for an additional 8 million square feet of new and existing hotels, apartments and condos, stores and restaurants and other development.

Tuesday's announcement was low-key for a big Water Street Tampa project, which typically get rolled out with well-planned ground-breaking events featuring speeches, guest dignitaries and TV-friendly visuals. Asked why the company didn't do a similar event for 1001 Water Street and whether developers skipped the event this time because they don't want people near an area where archeologists are investigating an unspecified number of possible grave shafts from Tampa's early history, Strategic said via email that the company looks "forward to celebrating the milestone of starting construction on our office offerings at an event in early fall."

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