Residences, retail planned for Tampa Park Apartments site in Ybor City

Ybor City investor Darryl Shaw and partners recently bought the property for $28.5 million.
Aerial views of the now vacant Tampa Park Apartments on Feb. 17 in Tampa. Owners have filed plans to develop a new residential and retail complex on a portion of the site.
Aerial views of the now vacant Tampa Park Apartments on Feb. 17 in Tampa. Owners have filed plans to develop a new residential and retail complex on a portion of the site. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published June 7, 2021|Updated June 8, 2021

Darryl Shaw has shared the first part of his vision to redevelop his growing list of properties in and around Ybor City.

In initial plans filed with the city of Tampa Monday, partners of the entrepreneur-turned-Ybor real estate investor outlined a proposal to build a residential and retail complex on the site of the Tampa Park Apartments off Nick Nuccio Parkway.

On three parcels of land bordered by Lily White Court to the north and Scott Drive to the south, Shaw would build a pair of multi-family residential buildings up to six stories in height, measuring 662,019 square feet in all. They would include 20,000 square feet of retail space along a proposed street between the two buildings.

A description of the project submitted by law firm Gardner Brewer Martinez-Monfort said the property would include an “aesthetic design that is consistent with design elements seen throughout Ybor City.” The buildings would surround four private courtyards and two parking garages with a total of 940 spaces.

While it’s only the first step in what promises to be a yearslong effort to redevelop parts of Ybor City and the surrounding areas, it’s a significant one.

Related: Purchase of now-deserted Tampa Park Apartments closes for $28.5 million

The site is a key link between Ybor and downtown Tampa, which is seeing its own development renaissance with Water Street Tampa, a $3.5 billion array of residences, hotels, office space and retail funded by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment.

“It’s going to create a seamless connection, which is going to be great for both areas,” said Lynda Remund, president and CEO of the Tampa Downtown Partnership. “I always think of New York City. You can walk 50 blocks in New York City, and you don’t even realize you’ve gone that far, because there’s something exciting to look at the entire way. Once that connection gets developed, you’re not even going to realize that you’ve walked from Ybor City into the downtown area.”

A spokesperson said Shaw had no comment on the plans. Shaw and Vinik both belong to a group of investors that has loaned $15 million to the Times Publishing Company, owner of the Tampa Bay Times.

Related: Bill Gates's divorce pulls his Water Street Tampa investment into spotlight

Shaw, the co-founder of veterinary company BluePearl, and Washington, D.C. real estate firm Kettler closed on 12.7 acres of the shuttered, low-income apartment property for $28.5 million in February. Over the last decade, Shaw and several partners have purchased more than $100 million in Ybor City property, including the 7.6-acre Gas Worx site for $10 million and, most recently, the headquarters of professional staffing and services firm Kforce for $24 million.

Related: Kforce's Ybor City HQ sold to Darryl Shaw, partners for $24 million

Shaw has said he envisions developing the tracts together to form a mixed-use district. Among the proposals discussed so far has been a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, who officially explored the possibility until 2018 (and may still be considering it).

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Chris Wojtowicz, chairperson of the Ybor City Development Corporation’s board of directors, said Shaw has told his group workforce housing will be part of his overall plan.

“Ybor City, unlike a lot of other neighborhoods in Tampa, is a renter’s district,” Wojtowicz said. “We don’t have a lot of folks looking to buy homes and move their families in. It’s more folks who are renters, who work here. A lot of folks in the service industry are here. What they need is affordable housing. The challenge is, how is this development going to assist with providing affordable housing for a workforce that’s craving it?”

Ybor City isn’t as dense a district as it was a century ago, Wojtowicz said. Adding population via new apartments or condos could bring new types of development that haven’t been a part of Ybor City life for many years.

“It brings things like grocery stores, doctors, dentists, dry cleaners, other types of basic services that other neighborhoods in Tampa enjoy because they have the density to support them,” he said.

Remund pointed to Water Street as an example of a mixed-use project designed in part to serve its new residents.

“As people start moving in, it naturally brings grocery stores, retailers, amenities that you need as a resident to be in a 10-minute walking proximity of where you live,” Remund said. “The development comes with the residents. That area will continue to grow. There’s so much opportunity there.”

A master plan for the Tampa Park Apartments property is expected this summer, with an initial hearing scheduled for October.