Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Business

117-year-old West Tampa building to be restored, turned into coworking space

Local favorite Bar-B-Que King will get an upgrade and a rebrand as part of the restoration.
A rendering of COhatch's restoration of 2132 W Main St. in West Tampa and expanded seating at Bar-B-Que King.
A rendering of COhatch's restoration of 2132 W Main St. in West Tampa and expanded seating at Bar-B-Que King. [ Courtesy of COhatch ]
Published Jan. 18

A West Tampa building is getting a new look — with a nod to the neighborhood’s past.

COhatch, an Ohio-based coworking company, announced last week it purchased a site on W Main Street, the historical commercial district of West Tampa.

The company will restore the building and upgrade local staple Bar-B-Que King, the statement said. The coworking space is expected to open in the summer.

“It’s a perfect location for people doing business in Tampa,” said Brian Sanders, COhatch’s Tampa Bay market leader. “It’s not just the access and centrality. But for me, there’s a sort of beauty in the history and the culture.”

Related: Tampa buildings, over 100 years old, might be razed

The building at 2132 W Main St. was built in 1905, according to county property records.

A rendering of COhatch's restoration of 2132 W Main St. in West Tampa.
A rendering of COhatch's restoration of 2132 W Main St. in West Tampa. [ Courtesy of COhatch ]

West Tampa used to be an industrial district, with cigar factories and a vibrant Latino community — rivaling Ybor City. A lot of the commercial buildings constructed in the early 1900s, like the new COhatch location, were made of brick, according to a University of South Florida article published in 1981.

West Tampa was annexed by the city of Tampa in 1925. The district started deteriorating economically when automation hurt the local cigar industry, the USF article said. Urban housing renewal projects west of Hillsborough River and the construction of Interstate 4, which cut through West Tampa, were also cited as reasons the area began to struggle.

But now the city of Tampa wants to revitalize the historic Main Street district.

About 19,000 residents live within a mile of the Main Street and Howard Avenue intersection, and the neighborhoods around it are majority Black and Latino, according to a city study released in August 2021. Developments around the area, like the West River project, could increase the population by 38 percent.

Related: Tampa Bay is Zillow’s hottest housing market for 2022

West Tampa is also seeing some of the highest rent increases in the Tampa Bay area at 29 percent in 2021, according to an analysis by commercial real estate data firm CoStar Group.

The area is bustling, Sanders said, but some buildings “need a bit of investment and new life.”

A rendering of COhatch's restoration of 2132 W Main St. in West Tampa and expanded seating at Bar-B-Que King.
A rendering of COhatch's restoration of 2132 W Main St. in West Tampa and expanded seating at Bar-B-Que King. [ Courtesy of COhatch ]

COhatch brought on building owner Bernard Jordan, born and raised in West Tampa, as a real estate partner, according to the statement. COhatch will also work with Bar-B-Que King co-owners Amelia Howard and Tiffany Powell to refresh their brand and upgrade the kitchen and seating space.

Follow trends affecting the local economy

Follow trends affecting the local economy

Subscribe to our free Business by the Bay newsletter

We’ll break down the latest business and consumer news and insights you need to know every Wednesday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

While the site has been mostly vacant for years, Bar-B-Que King, a Black-owned family business more than 60 years old, is one of the few surviving storefronts in the area.

“That’s a testimony to the restaurant. People love it,” Sanders said. “The idea of maybe taking over the building and turning it into something new but then displacing them was just ... none of us wanted to do that.”

Howard said when Tampa’s first housing projects were torn down, business slowed. Neighboring businesses closed their shops. At one point last year, she said she was considering closing the restaurant.

Now new developments are rising up and, with them, new customers.

“There are a lot of mixed feelings in the community but I really believe that this is the renovation the West Tampa area needs,” Howard said. “It was pretty much a ghost town and we were really blessed to still be in business.”

Bar-B-Que Kitchen once had five locations around Tampa Bay, Howard said. Even though economic cycles forced many to close down, the original smaller restaurant stayed open. Howard said she’s thrilled about doubling in size and getting new appliances. A rebrand would also maintain the legacy of her family’s business while helping to connect with new people in the community.

“Me and my sister Tiffany, we just want to make our ancestors proud. We feel like we’re living out their dreams for us,” Howard said.

Sanders said COhatch wanted to make sure it wasn’t just dropping into the community. Part of the redesign will nod to West Tampa’s history and its cigar factories. Renderings show guava murals inside. There’s a lot of work to be done in renovations because of years of deterioration, Sanders said, but COhatch plans to preserve the exposed brick walls and original tiles.

A rendering of COhatch's restoration of 2132 W Main St. in West Tampa.
A rendering of COhatch's restoration of 2132 W Main St. in West Tampa. [ Courtesy of COhatch ]

With the pandemic, Sanders said hybrid work models have taken off. More employers are looking for coworking space options so employees can have the flexibility to work from home but also have a space to meet and collaborate.

“COVID didn’t depress the business, it stimulated it,” Sanders said.

COhatch plans to expand across the Tampa Bay area with about 15 locations by 2032, according to the statement. Currently, there are projects in the works in Lakeland and St. Petersburg as well, Sanders said.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge