One of Tampa’s biggest development projects has secured a major new tenant.
Biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer is opening a new business hub in Tampa’s Heights Union, an office complex next to Armature Works. The Fortune 100 company will lease more than 100,000 square feet, said spokeswoman Pamela Eisele, for a mix of relocated and newly hired employees.
While Pfizer didn’t specify how many local jobs the new hub would bring, Eisele said the company was “actively hiring” for about 50 positions in Tampa.
“We anticipate the number of colleagues and services in our Tampa hub to grow and evolve over time,” she said.
Pfizer’s Tampa office is described as a “global capability hub,” hosting logistics and business development departments like finance, human resources and digital operations. It will open in a limited capacity on March 1, although most employees will continue working remotely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
For Heights Union, Pfizer’s arrival should ease some of the sting felt in December, when co-working space WeWork pulled out of a planned 50,000-square-foot lease amid a financial refocusing.
Across Tampa Bay, the office market is still feeling the effects of the pandemic. The market saw about 565,000 square feet of new office space in 2020 — much of it in high-profile projects like Heights Union, Water Street Tampa and Midtown Tampa — while sublease availability hit a 20-year high, according to commercial real estate services firm JLL. That glut of space led landlords to decrease asking rents by an average of 4.3 percent year-over-year, with one building in Water Street dropping its asking rent by $10 per square foot.
In Heights Union, Pfizer will join regenerative medicine company Axogen as a primary tenant. The office complex’s first phase is 92 percent leased, said Adam Harden, a principal with developer SoHo Capital; it still has one contiguous 25,000-square-foot space available. Its next phase will bring another 236,000 square feet of space, as well as a Marriott-branded hotel.
“When we started our journey assembling and planning the Heights we committed that the story of the district would be about jobs, quality jobs,” Harden said in a statement. “We really appreciate the patience and support of our neighbors as the Heights District continues to grow. Pfizer’s choice of our community validates what we all know: Tampa is a great place to live, work, learn, play and raise a family.”
Local economic officials touted the Pfizer deal as further proof of the region’s marketability in the biopharmaceutical sector. Bristol Myers Squib, Johnson and Johnson and Amgen have all opened facilities in Tampa since 2013, bringing more than 1,500 jobs and $81 million in capital investment, according to the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council.
“It’s just like any other industry cluster concept — the first one is the toughest to get, because you’re unproven at that point,” said Craig Richard, the council’s president and CEO.
“But once companies start to see that their competitors are successful in a particular market, and the right talent is available, and we start including better infrastructure to support these types of industry sectors — like our university collaborations and our educational institutions that are gearing up to support these types of institutions — then it builds. We become even more competitive in that space.”
For those wondering: Pfizer has shipped more than 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines to Florida, but Eisele said the company’s arrival in Tampa won’t have any impact on how quickly it gets any more.