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Tampa’s Water Street district to expand, encompassing flour mill site

The change brings the former Ardent Mills property into the assessment area to finance Water Street’s infrastructure
Strategic Property Partners, the development company for the massive Water Street Tampa project, acquired the  the Ardent Mills property in 2018.  (Times files)
Strategic Property Partners, the development company for the massive Water Street Tampa project, acquired the the Ardent Mills property in 2018. (Times files)
Published Feb. 16
Updated Feb. 16

TAMPA — The Water Street Tampa district is poised for expansion, adding the 5-acre site of Ardent Mills on South Nebraska Avenue.

The independent special district can charge its own assessments to pay for streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure serving the $3 billion Water Street Tampa mixed-use development from Strategic Property Partners. The development group, a partnership of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates’s Cascade Investments, acquired the mill property in 2018 for $13.4 million, the same year the Legislature created the assessment district.

The developers have not announced plans for what they will do with the mill site. Ardent Mills, a joint venture between Conagra and two other agri-business companies, is moving to a new location in Port Tampa Bay later this year.

“When we were able to acquire the former flour mill, something that was very many years in the works ... this was a significant enough addition that we thought it was worth going through this process,” Jim Shimberg, executive vice president of Strategic Property Partners, told state legislators Monday.

Related: Water Street developers buy flour mill for future expansion

The expansion moves the existing district’s northern boundary to Whiting Street and brings the total property to 73.8 acres, said Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, who introduced the legislative bill required to amend the borders. Both Tampa City Council and the Hillsborough state legislative delegation blessed the boundary change which also requires approval from the full Legislature.

During a delegation meeting Monday, Rep. Susan L. Valdes, D-Tampa, asked if the district’s boundaries would grow in the future.

“We don’t have any plans at this time to acquire any additional lands,” said Shimberg. “So we don’t anticipate that there would be any future amendments to the boundaries to the district, but you never know what’s going to happen in the future.”

The mill, a remnant of the waterfront’s smokestack past, was built in 1938, and stands in start contrast to Water Street’s lifestyle-driven mix of high-rise hotels, apartments, condominiums and offices.