1. News
  2. /
  3. Business

Tampa airport pushes ahead with office building, more expansion

Construction is getting underway on the 270,000-square-foot SkyCenter One office building.
The 9-story SkyCenter One office building, expected to open in 2021, will include three floors for the offices of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, plus another 160,000 square feet of leasable space for tenants who want their businesses near Tampa International Airport. (Rendering courtesy Hillsborough County Aviation Authority) [Hillsborough County Aviation Authority]
Published Nov. 7
Updated Nov. 7

TAMPA — Talk about going to the highest and best use.

Years ago, land near the main road going into Tampa International Airport was a storage lot for damaged rental cars.

"We used to drive down here and say, ‘Oh, that was a bad one,’ " Tampa International chief executive officer Joe Lopano said Thursday.

Today those bashed-up cars are gone. In their place, construction is underway on a 9-story office building to be known as SkyCenter One.

It will be connected by a pedestrian bridge to the airport’s year-old SkyConnect train. Developers say tenants will be able to get from their desks to the airport terminal in eight minutes.

RELATED: Tampa International’s billion-dollar update creates a new airport experience

“It’s part of a vision where we said, if we build a train, maybe we could connect it to an office building or a hotel,” Lopano said. “That’s what we’re doing today.”

SkyCenter One will be on the north side of a large atrium that’s already under construction. On the south side, airport officials are looking to bring in a hotel.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority plans to lease three floors in the building for its offices. Moving those staffers out of the airport terminal is expected to give the airport more room for passenger operations.

The developer, VanTrust Real Estate, will lease the remaining 160,000 square feet to businesses interested in being on airport property. At the moment, there are no tenants other than the airport pre-leased in the project, but developers expect that to change by the time SkyCenter One opens in spring 2021.

“This building being in the heart of the West Shore market, we’re very confident,” VanTrust executive vice president for Florida John Carey said.

The airport is not paying for constructing the shell of the office building, which has an estimated cost of about $49 million, according to city development records.

The start of construction on Tampa International Airport's SkyCenter One office building on Thursday brought out (from left) Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board member Robert Watkins, board chairman Gary Harrod, Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano, VanTrust Real Estate executive vice president for Florida John Carey and aviation authority board member Chip Diehl. In the background is the skeleton of a large atrium building that will connect the office building to the airport's SkyConnect train and a planned future hotel. (Photo courtesy Hillsborough Aviation Authority) [Hillsborough County Aviation Authority]

But officials said earlier this year the airport would cover the costs of preparing the 17-acre site for development ($13.5 million), building the atrium and pedestrian bridge ($53.6 million) and building out its own offices on the three floors it leases ($42.5 million).

SkyCenter One is part of the second phase of a $2 billion expansion designed to make the airport capable of handling 34 million passengers a year.

RELATED: Tampa International Airport is morphing into a mini-city unto itself

But it’s not the only part. Also Thursday, the aviation authority’s board approved another $119 million for a project to add express pickup and drop-off lanes to the main terminal and build a central utility plant that will cut the terminal’s energy consumption by 30 percent.

The expansion is only possible, Lopano said, because officials like the late George Bean designed the airport in the 1960s with an eye on future growth.

“This couldn’t have happened if it was designed like (Los Angeles) or San Francisco or any other place,” he said.


  1. Tech Data's CEO Rich Hume (left) shares a moment with former CEO Bob Dutkowsky during a send off celebration for Dutkowsky earlier this year. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
    A private equity firm has agreed to buy Tech Data.
  2. Joseph Erickson, 53, looks out the window at the gulf-[front condo he thought he won at a foreclosure auction last year.t JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times
    "There have been serious allegations,'' Judge Keith Meyer said.
  3. Sam's Club fulfillment center manager Nick Barbieri explains to a shopper how the new Scan & Go shop works at 5135 S Dale Mabry Highway. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Shoppers in Tampa Bay can now skip the line and cash out alcohol on their own phones.
  4. Which cars hold their value best in Tampa Bay? Pictured is traffic in Tampa Bay in 2017. [Times file photo] ELLIOTT, LOREN  |  Elliott, Loren
    For the top spots, think big and rugged.
  5. A rendering of the planned Pinstripes bowling, bocce and bistro space that is planned to open at International Plaza alongside a Cinemex in spring 2021. Pinstripes
    In addition to upscale bowling and movies, there will also be bocce ball and a bistro.
  6. Tech Data's headquarters in Largo. TD AGENCY  |  Courtesy of Tech Data
    The company is being sold to a private equity firm.
  7. St. Petersburg's new 26-acre Pier District, with components that will include a coastal thicket walking path, marketplace, playground and pavilion, is nearing completion. Shown is the tilted lawn in front of the Pier head building that is being created  with Geofoam, soil and grass. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    St. Petersburg hopes to sell naming rights in the Pier District — available for annual payments of $50,000 to $1 million for 10-year terms — to help offset taxpayer subsidies.
  8. Tech Data chief executive officer Rich Hume talks to company employees about the pending acquisition of Tech Data for $5.4 billion at a global town hall meeting on Wednesday morning. David Kiester | Tech Data
    Apollo Global Management has offered $130 per share of Tech Data stock. If shareholders approve, the home-grown company will remain based in Pinellas County.
  9. Isabella Yosuico of Safety Harbor with some of the Mighty Tykes wrist and ankle bands she invted to help her son Isaac, who has Down Syndrome, and other children with weak muscles. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A product to help special needs kids leads to big loans, a lawsuit and a bungled bankruptcy
  10. The Pinellas County Commission moved closer Tuesday to granting a total of $20.6 million to three museums: the Salvidor Dali Museum (top), the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center (bottom left), and the St. Petersburg Museum of History. Photos courtesy of Pinellas County
    The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg Museum of History and Tampa Bay Watch are on track to receive bed tax dollars for expansions.