To be the tallest building in a major metropolitan area is a distinction.
It’s a title that spawned a legendary competition over the New York City skyline.
In the Tampa Bay area, the competition for height has not spurred such vicious warfare. But it does impact the way we see the cities we live in and their iconic skylines.
This list looks at the 21 tallest buildings in Tampa and St. Petersburg. We checked each building’s height via a database provided by Emporis, a research company that collects data on buildings worldwide. Then we used their list of tallest buildings in each city to create a ranking of the Tampa Bay area’s skyscrapers as a whole.
To calculate total length, we used what is called the architectural height, a measurement from the ground to the building’s “architectural top,” including spires but not certain equipment, like antennae or flagpoles. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat calls this the most “widely utilized” measurement for building height.
“We wanted to go with something that was not intended to change and part of the original intent of the design,” said Daniel Safarik, the council’s editor, on why that is the official metric.
One thing that may surprise you: In Tampa, the tallest buildings are largely commercial or public, whereas in St. Pete, they are largely residential and located on or near Beach Drive.
As time goes on, Safarik said, residents may continue to see more residential high-rises across the globe.
“I think people worldwide are becoming more comfortable living in high-rises,” he said. “With the increase in urbanization overall, it’s like you have to put people somewhere in the cities that we are moving to, and generally speaking, it just becomes more efficient to put people in the air.”
And for any of you wanting to engage in some friendly competition, the list skews Tampa over St. Pete. You’ll have to scroll down to No. 8 to find a building in St. Pete. Thirteen of the buildings on this list are located in Tampa while eight are in St. Pete.
1. 100 North Tampa
Height: 579 feet, 42 floors
Address: 100 N. Tampa St., Tampa
Use: Tenants at the exclusively professional building include KPMG, law firm Holland & Knight, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Raymond James and Regions Bank. The building offers a gym, concierge services, dry cleaning and carwash detailing, according to its website.
2. Bank of America Plaza
Height: 577 feet, 42 floors
Address: 101 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa
Use: Bank of America Plaza is described as an “office tower located in the heart of Tampa’s Central Business District,” as per the commercial real estate group that owns the building. The skyscraper is as wide as two city blocks, which, CBRE declares, makes it “one of the largest and most prestigious office developments in both Florida and the Southeast.”
But the second tallest building in Tampa is also known for the unfortunate day in January 2002. On a Saturday evening, a 15-year-old high school student flew a single-engine Cessna plane into the building’s 28th floor. The building did not suffer much damage but the impact killed the teen flying the plane, Charles Bishop, a student at East Lake High School.
3. One Tampa City Center
Height: 537 feet, 38 floors
Address: 201 N. Franklin St., Tampa
Use: One Tampa City Center held the title of Florida’s tallest office buildings for three years after its 1981 build date. It no longer remains either the tallest building in Florida or in Tampa. But it did lead to one of the biggest commercial office sales in the state’s history when it was sold for more than $128 million in 2014.
4. SunTrust Financial Centre
Height: 525 feet, 36 floors
Address: 401 E. Jackson St., Tampa
Use: Downtown Tampa’s SunTrust Centre is one of the flagship buildings of Highwoods Properties, the commercial real estate company that owns it. The building is known for the bright lights that sit atop its stepped roof, which they call a ziggurat. This year, the Times traveled to the top of the SunTrust building to see how the lights worked after a reader asked us about it.
Height: 460 feet, 34 floors
Address: 808 N. Franklin St., Tampa
Use: Element is one of the few residential Tampa buildings on this list. Situated in downtown Tampa and near Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the building has changed hands multiple times. It was most recently bought by a Massachusetts-based real estate company, Northland Investment Corp., in October 2017. A 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 744 square-foot unit on the 34th floor, the highest available, starts at a $2,175 monthly rent, according to their website.
6. Park Tower
Address: 400 N Tampa St., Tampa
Use: When Park Tower was first built, it was the tallest building in the state. It kept that title until 1981, when One Tampa City Center was built at a taller height. The building now bears the name of BB&T.
7. Rivergate Tower
Address: 400 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa
Use: Rivergate Tower has another name for most residents of Tampa: the “beer can” building. It has a prime location on the Hillsborough River, but its price has dropped significantly in recent years. In 1988, the building was sold for $123.2 million, but by 2014 the price had dropped to $60 million. A Facebook page for the building calls it a “proud and iconic symbol of downtown Tampa.”
8. One St. Petersburg
Address: 100 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg
Use: This condo includes three lounges, a lap pool, a hot tub, a fitness center and a game room. The building has already attracted controversy, despite its open date of just last year. Times reporter Susan Taylor Martin found that multiple condos were sold in the building for a lower price, according to Pinellas County property appraiser records, than the Multiple Listing Service indicated.
9. 200 Central Avenue
Address: 200 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Use: The building formerly known as Priatek Plaza is the tallest office building in Pinellas County. Bank of America occupied the lobby of the 309,000-square-foot building before moving out in 2010. The building was known before that as the Barnett Bank tower. It was previously the headquarters for Florida Progress Corp. Priatek, a start-up interactive advertising company, bought the naming rights in 2015 but elected not to renew it two years later.
10. Signature Place
Height: 381 feet, 36 floors
Address: 175 1st St. S, St. Petersburg
Use: Signature Place Condos offers a heated pool and spa, a putting green, fitness city and a party room. In 2015, years after it had opened, condo owners were forced to pay $8.7 million for repairs to “construction defects” that could harm residents and pedestrians.
11. Hillsborough County Center
Height: 375 feet, 32 floors
Address: 601 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa
Use: The Hillsborough County Center -- formally known as The Frederick B. Karl County Center -- is the first on this list to be a public building rather than a commercial or residential space. The center is a place where residents can pay taxes, apply for permits and business licenses, register to vote, apply for jobs and speak at public hearings. The Supervisor of Elections and Tax Collector’s Office are both located within the building.
11. Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse
Height: 375 feet, 17 floors
Address: 801 N Florida Ave., Tampa
Use: Tied for 11th place on this list is another public building, the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse. The courthouse serves Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee, Polk, Sarasota and Hardee counties. The district moved to the building in 1998. All 17 stories comprise the 17 consecutive terms that Sam Gibbons, a Tampa native, served in Congress, the website indicates.
Height: 361 feet, 32 floors
Address: 777 N Ashley Dr., Tampa
Use: Skypoint condominium tower has 380 residences and is located near the Riverwalk. The building includes a rooftop pool and spa, according to a real estate listing. Skypoint and the 30-story Towers of Channelside are currently some of the tallest condos in downtown Tampa.
Height: 358 feet, 26 floors
Address: 180 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg
Use: The Ovation condo tower may not be the tallest tower in St. Pete, but one of its penthouses earned the distinction of the most expensive condo ever sold in this area when it went for $6.9 million in 2016. It also has the second most expensive condo ever sold in the area. It went earlier this year for just $51,000 less.
15. Parkshore Plaza
Height: 355 feet, 29 floors
Address: 300 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg
Use: Two Parkshore Plaza condos up for sale on the real estate site Zillow show prices of about $1.3 million and $1.5 million. A penthouse apartment in the Parkshore Plaza sold for $3.725 million in a cash sale in June 2017.
16. Bayfront Tower
Height: 333 feet, 29 floors
Address: 1 Beach Dr. SE, St. Petersburg
Use: Bayfront Tower is Beach Drive’s oldest residential tower. In 2017, the building underwent a $12 million renovation, including a new fitness center, renovated lobby and sleeker facade. One resident said: “We were in desperate need of a makeover.”
17. Towers of Channelside East and West
Height: 327 feet, 30 floors
Address: 1100-1200 East Cumberland Ave., Tampa
Use: The Towers of Channelside are two condominium buildings that offer a combined 257 units, according to a real estate description. The complex includes an infinity pool, heated spa and clubhouse.
18. Tampa Marriott Water Street
Height: 326 feet, 27 floors
Address: 700 S Florida Ave., Tampa
Use: Until earlier this year, the Tampa Marriott Water Street was called the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. That has changed with the impending addition of a new 519-room JW Marriott and a 173-room Marriott Edition boutique hotel, developed by a company owned in part by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. The former hotel is scheduled to be completed next summer while the boutique hotel is slated for early 2021.
19. 400 Beach Drive
Height: 316 feet, 29 floors
Address: 400 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg
Use: A 3-bedroom and 3-and-a-half-bath, 3,072 square-foot condo that was for sale in this building ran for almost $2.3 million. It is now off the market, according to Realtor.com. The condo boasts water views, a pool deck and cabanas, according to a listing.
20. Wells Fargo Center
Height: 311 feet, 22 floors
Address: 100 S Ashley Dr., Tampa
Use: This waterfront office building is anchored by Wells Fargo, law firm Phelps Dunbar and financial services company UBS, according to the building’s website. The building includes a fitness center and was recently renovated.
21. First Central Tower
Height: 300 feet, 17 floors
Address: 360 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Use: Finally, we encounter another office building in St. Petersburg on this list. This building, which has a large BB&T sign at the top, has a connected parking garage and a “high-end fitness center,” according to their website.