South Tampa’s newest waterfront neighborhood is getting busier.
New development has turned the struggling lot south of the Gandy Bridge into an upscale community. More businesses and events will open this summer. The first of three Marina Pointe condominium towers and a private marina is expected finish construction by the end of the year. Units are sold out and sales for the second tower’s 150 condos will begin Wednesday.
The Westshore Marina District in total should be completed by 2025, said Dominic Pickering, the West Coast Florida executive director for BTI Partners, the Fort Lauderdale firm developing the property.
In this conversation, Pickering discusses what’s coming to the area this year and how the Westshore Marina District is shaping up so far. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s new at Westshore Marina District this summer?
The Westshore Marina District is essentially 50 acres or so with marina landings and a retail area. We’ve got 12 different retailers there. Some have already opened like Cru Cellars. But over this summer, we’re going to have Chuck Lager’s, Buzzed Bull Creamery, DRNK coffee + tea and QWENCH juice bar open. Rocket Cycle is also coming this summer. So in the next 30 to 90 days, we’re going to end up with four or five new openings.
We’re also running the Summer Night Exchange. That’s our fresh market on the first Wednesday of every month. About 500 to 700 people came along with about 50 stands of people selling all sorts of different items. There was live music and food trucks. These events have proven to be really popular.
What are some ways you’re trying to activate the area and get surrounding neighborhoods to be aware about what is happening?
We run a variety of events. So to give you an example, Rocket Cycle will host yoga out on the waterfront. That’s the sort of idea retailers do that really supports the area. The Summer Night Exchanges is without question, the biggest and the best outreach that we’ve had.
We also have Marina Pointes, the three buildings of luxury condos. The first tower is closing within a couple of months as well. There are lots of things we’ve got coming up, so lots of outreach and interest from all the surrounding areas like the Westshore Yacht Club. Pretty much most of South Tampa is starting to recognize the Westshore Marina District as a place that’s coming alive.
Who is moving into the condominiums?
Really a little of everything. So we’ve got local people that want to downsize and live the condo lifestyle. We have people that are from out of state but they want to move to Florida and they’ve identified Tampa as the place to live in Florida at the moment. We have waterfront, great weather and beaches. But we also have people from different age groups. Some people are in their 30s and in the middle of their career. Some people are perhaps 60s or 70s getting towards the end of their career. We have people who love the water because they love boating but we also have people who love the water because they love to look at it. It’s from all over the place. Very eclectic.
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What’s the status of the marina and what do you expect it will do for the area when it’s complete?
So the dredging has all been finished. In fact, the docks are all built and they’re out there. Construction is working on the finishing touches. It will open to coincide with the first tower at Marina Pointe which will be around September and October.
So it’s very rare to be able to buy a brand new luxury condo with a private marina attached. It’s been a great attraction for people looking to purchase. But also just having a marina around the Westshore Marina District which you can literally walk up and down the promenade and look out at the boats. It’s changed the vibe and the dynamic of the area, having some really, really nice boats coming in.
How much available space is there left for businesses?
We have 12 different retail outlets and 11 have been leased. We have one remaining. So the final one is about 1,200 square feet and we’re actually in conversation with a couple of companies at the moment. So we anticipate that the final space will be leased within the next 30 to 60 days, and then we will be completely leased.
Are there plans to build more retail?
We most likely will, probably a little bit further up by the Gandy Bridge, which is where we currently have our sales gallery for the Marina Pointe condos. At the moment we don’t have any condos that we can take people into because they’re not going to be completed until later this year. Once we finish the first tower, we’ll be able to take people into real units and at that point we may well let the gallery go and convert that space into a retail outlets.
What kind of businesses do you try to bring to the area?
We’ve been very clear from the beginning that we want them to add something to the area and to the experience for people that live here.
So we wanted to make sure that everything we bring in is going to be something that perhaps you would visit, maybe not a daily basis, but certainly a weekly or every two weeks or so. We’ve been quite choosy about who we bring in. And there’s no reason that when we open up any more retail space, that that mentality won’t stay the same.
How has the development met your expectations?
We put a lot of marketing material together and most people who come down tell us it looks better in real life than it does from the renderings. When you actually see the streets full and you know people are enjoying the retail outlets, it really does give you a nice feeling. It does look a lot more vibrant than I personally had expected it to be. It’s coming together extremely well.