A 17-story, 300-foot office tower coming to Midtown Tampa won’t significantly interrupt air traffic operations at Tampa International Airport, the Federal Aviation Authority has decided.
The 400,000-square-foot Midtown East building, which is due to open by late 2024, had drawn objections earlier this year from the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which signed off on a slightly shorter building in 2018.
Back then, developer the Bromley Cos. had applied for a height variance for a tower no taller than 259 feet, which the airport granted, saying it would pose no hazards, provided builders included appropriate lighting and other safety measures.
But an updated design put forth earlier this year put the tower’s design at 278 feet above ground and 300 feet above sea level. When the FAA said it would study the potential hazards of the new design, the Aviation Authority spoke up, arguing it would impact takeoff, descent and circling altitudes for at least one runway and posed “potential safety concerns.”
“The height of this building is an issue,” Tony Mantegna, the airport’s height zoning and land use manager, wrote in a September email to city development officials. “It causes substantial adverse effect on TPA radar system at its proposed height.”
At 300 feet, Midtown East would be the tallest building that close to Tampa International Airport, standing closer in height to the office, residential and hotel towers recently erected in downtown’s Water Street Tampa district. Midtown’s first office tower, Midtown West, which opened last year, is 159 feet tall.
In its review of the new design, the FAA noted the Airport Authority’s objections, acknowledging that while the building would have “an adverse effect” on some operations, “it would not constitute substantial adverse effect.” The tower “could affect the quality and/or availability” of some radar signals, but “would not cause an unacceptable adverse impact.”
The Aviation Authority had some of its concerns assuaged during a June meeting with the Bromley Cos., who “gave us a really good presentation,” said assistant vice president of planning and development Jeff Siddle, including sufficient flight traffic data “for us to be convinced that it was okay.”
The FAA’s ruling means the height “won’t be an issue” for Aviation Authority staff, Siddle said. A hearing officer and the authority’s board of adjustments will consider the taller design for approval sometime after Nov. 22.
“Obviously, the determination of no hazard by the FAA carries substantial weight,” Siddle said.
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The Bromley Cos. declined to comment on the FAA’s ruling or Midtown East’s height.