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Trigaux: Here are the Top 10 Tampa Bay real estate projects with Wow! appeal

Strategic Property Partners unveiled plans to redevelopment Channelside Bay Plaza to Port Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The plans involve require demolishing Channelside Bay Plaza and opening the space up to the waterfront. The Bay Plaza design is often said to "turn its back" on the water, not taking full advantage of the views. Photos provided by SPP
Strategic Property Partners unveiled plans to redevelopment Channelside Bay Plaza to Port Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The plans involve require demolishing Channelside Bay Plaza and opening the space up to the waterfront. The Bay Plaza design is often said to "turn its back" on the water, not taking full advantage of the views. Photos provided by SPP
Published Oct. 28, 2016

A cool commercial project here, another there. That's great. But it's easy to miss the critical mass gathering in Tampa Bay without looking at the area's best and biggest commercial real estate developments now under way (or about to be) at the same time.

Wow!

From the frenzy of downtown projects in Tampa and St. Petersburg to Tampa International Airport and east Pasco, big-dollar and innovative developments are in high gear. Alone, they signal confidence in the urban strongholds of Tampa Bay. Combined, they send a strong message that the economic vitality of the Tampa Bay region in the coming years has been noticed and recognized by savvy developers near and far. It bodes well for the region.

Try this sampling. I've picked 10 area commercial projects, ranked by their Wow! factor.

•••

1.

Project: Vinik-Cascade joint venture (as yet unnamed)

Where: Amalie Arena area south of downtown Tampa

Developer: Strategic Property Partners

What is it: Transformative $2 billion (and counting) redevelopment of 50 acres around Amalie Arena and waterfront. Plans call to expand convention center, add new hotels, relocate the USF Morsani College of Medicine, redesign roads, add residential housing and an entertainment area and re-imagine what was the Channelside Bay Plaza retail space.

Why Wow!: It's the most significant urban, multi-use project for Tampa Bay in more than a generation. Sets a high bar to reinvigorate broader downtown Tampa. Makes Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the biggest real estate mover and shaker for the region. Cascade Investment partner, which manages mega-billionaire Bill Gates' money, puts a gilded seal of approval on the extensive project. If Bill likes it, it's got a great shot at being a winner — right?

Read more: How do you transform a downtown like Tampa's that has such little history?

2.

Project: Tropicana Field.

Where: Just west of downtown St. Petersburg.

Developer: City of St. Petersburg with private developers.

What is it: At this stage, various master plans have been presented outlining ways the city can redevelop the 85-acre site containing Tropicana Field and surrounding area.

[LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

The site of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg will be re-developed whether the Tampa Bay Rays stay in the area or not.

[LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

The site of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg will be re-developed whether the Tampa Bay Rays stay in the area or not.

Why Wow!: City and business leaders consider this site a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to develop such a large number of contiguous acres of publicly-owned land located adjacent to both St. Pete's bustling downtown and the city's proposed "innovation district." The site will be developed under two scenarios: With the Tampa Bay Rays remaining and building a new stadium in the same general area, or with the Rays choosing to pursue a new stadium in another part of Pinellas or Hillsborough counties.

3.

Project: Tampa International Airport expansion

Where: Tampa's West Shore area

What is it: Latest master plan for airport's 3,300 acres outlines three expansion phases to handle 35 million passengers each year, more than double the current number of annual passengers. Among the goals of the current $1 billion-plus redevelopment: decongesting curbsides, roads and main terminal; new terminal concessions; a new rental car center near the entrance to the airport with a 1.4-mile automated people mover to main terminal.

[CHRIS URSO | Times]

This photo from July shows construction continuing on what will become the new rental car facility at Tampa International Airport.

[CHRIS URSO | Times]

This photo from July shows construction continuing on what will become the new rental car facility at Tampa International Airport.

Why Wow!: Tampa International already was a bright, shining icon for the Tampa Bay region. An expansion and update will keep it competitive among increasing numbers of airports globally that frequently upgrade their looks and services. For many travelers and newcomers, the airport creates the first impression of a metro region.

4.

Project: Lafayette Place

Where: At the southwest corner of the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and the western side of the Hillsborough River.

Developer: John Avlon, president, Hillsborough River Realty Co.

What is it: Three proposed buildings on a 6.25-acre development site that will include residences, offices, retail and hotel space.

Photo courtesy Hillsborough River Realty company.

A rendering of Lafayette Place, a mixed-use development planned for downtown Tampa near the historic Lafayette Street Bridge.

Photo courtesy Hillsborough River Realty company.

A rendering of Lafayette Place, a mixed-use development planned for downtown Tampa near the historic Lafayette Street Bridge.

Why Wow!: Unveiled this past week. The significance, of course, is this project of tall vertical buildings would push the city's "downtown" feel across the Hillsborough River — priming the pump, perhaps, for the western side of the river to become increasingly connected to the city's center.

Read more: Ambitious riverfront project featuring hotel, offices, retail and residential planned for Tampa

5.

Project: The Heights

Where: Tampa Heights along the Hillsborough River

Developer: Adam Harden and Chas Bruck, Soho Capital

What is it: A 43-acre mixed-use development of apartments, offices and restaurants, all part of an $820 million investment.

[SKIP O'ROURKE | Times]

The core of The Heights project is the transformation of the 106-year-old, brick warehouse known as the Tampa Armature Works into an in-house market, co-working space, two restaurants and event space.

[SKIP O'ROURKE | Times]

The core of The Heights project is the transformation of the 106-year-old, brick warehouse known as the Tampa Armature Works into an in-house market, co-working space, two restaurants and event space.

Why Wow!? Just north of downtown Tampa, site features 1,200 feet of frontage along the Hillsborough River with potential to become the northern hub of the Tampa Riverwalk boardwalk. At the project's core is transformation of the 106-year-old, brick warehouse known as the Tampa Armature Works into an in-house market, co-working space, two restaurants and event space. The Heights Market will comprise a 22,000-square-foot open market hall.

Read more:The Heights market concept will be the first of its kind in Tampa Bay

6.

Project: Port Tampa Bay

Where: Along a waterfront strip of 45 acres north of the Florida Aquarium between Channelside Drive and the Ybor Channel.

Developer: Port Tampa Bay working with private developers.

What is it: A proposed waterfront development that — if built — will be within sight of the Vinik-Cascade Strategic Property Partners project.

Renderings Courtesy Bermello, Ajamil & Partners .

Port Tampa Bay made a splash last year with its long-range plan for a $1.7 billion Channelside development featuring urban waterfront parks, a marina and two 75-story residential high-rises. But questions persist. Are 75-story buildings - far taller than anything in Tampa Bay and most of Florida - feasible?

Renderings Courtesy Bermello, Ajamil & Partners .

Port Tampa Bay made a splash last year with its long-range plan for a $1.7 billion Channelside development featuring urban waterfront parks, a marina and two 75-story residential high-rises. But questions persist. Are 75-story buildings - far taller than anything in Tampa Bay and most of Florida - feasible?

Why Wow!: The Port made a splash last year with its long-range plan for a $1.7 billion Channelside development featuring urban waterfront parks, a marina and two 75-story residential high-rises. But questions persist. Are 75-story buildings – far taller than anything in Tampa Bay and most of Florida – feasible? Is there a looming conflict in this giant development being so close to Jeff Vinik's similarly sized development? Or will they become the best of pals?

Read more: Port Tampa Bay unveils vision for land in Channelside District

7.

Project: One St. Petersburg condo and adjoining hotel

Where: Downtown St. Petersburg, Central Avenue between 2nd and 1st Streets

Developer: Kolter Group

What is it: An entire city block has been leveled and is now under construction for an upscale hotel and a high-end condominium. While located a block behind Beach Drive, the condo still promises waterfront living (at least in its upper stories) by simply building higher than the city's upscale waterfront condos.

Robert Trigaux | TIMES

Developer Kolter Group is building an upscale hotel on the same block as the 41-story St. Petersburg One condo is under construction. The project is on Central Ave. between 1st and 2nd Streets in downtown St. Petersburg.

Robert Trigaux | TIMES

Developer Kolter Group is building an upscale hotel on the same block as the 41-story St. Petersburg One condo is under construction. The project is on Central Ave. between 1st and 2nd Streets in downtown St. Petersburg.

Why Wow! The 253-unit One St. Petersburg condo promises to be 41 stories high, making it one of the tallest buildings in the area. When the hotel was first proposed, Kolter expected it to be branded as a Hyatt Hotel. The construction site, however, no longer identifies the location as a Hyatt. We'll see what hotel brand appears.

8.

Project: 400 block of Central Avenue

Where: Downtown St. Petersburg

Developer: John Catsimatidis of New York's Red Apple Group

What is it: Another entire downtown block cleared to the ground to make room for new mixed-used buildings on a larger scale.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Workers are demolishing the nearly 100-year-old Pheil Hotel in St. Petersburg. There have been various ideas about whether the development that will be built here should be office space or residential.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Workers are demolishing the nearly 100-year-old Pheil Hotel in St. Petersburg. There have been various ideas about whether the development that will be built here should be office space or residential.

Why Wow! What's striking right now is the huge crane and wrecking ball methodically smashing into bits the empty and decrepit Pheil Hotel. The goal is to make room for a mixed-used tower possibly as tall as the 41-story St. Petersburg One condo just three blocks down Central Avenue. The developer provided a rendering early on but suggests the building's design is flexible at this point. Odds are it will be big, whatever goes up on the block. As billionaire Catsimatidis told the Tampa Bay Times: "St. Pete needs a skyline.

Read more: Billionaire developer says St. Pete needs a skyline in revealing soaring tower plans

Read more: Should this key block of downtown St. Petersburg be turned into office space or more apartments and condos?

Read more:As development nears, take a look inside the St. Petersburg buildings frozen in time

9.

Project: Downtown Publix stores in both Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Where: In Tampa, at the corner of E. Twiggs Street and N. Meridian Avenue. In St. Petersburg, in the 700 block of Central Avenue.

Developer: Tampa grocery part of residential project by Mercury Advisors. St. Petersburg grocery is part a development by the ARC Group.

What is it: Grocery stores to help handle basic demands from a downtown explosion of new residential housing in both cities.

Photos courtesy of Mercury Advisors

Renderings of the new downtown Tampa Publix project.

Photos courtesy of Mercury Advisors

Renderings of the new downtown Tampa Publix project.

Why Wow! Publix gets it. Tampa and St. Petersburg are (or soon will be) bursting at the seams with new housing options, with people eager to walk to a nearby grocery store to buy food. Tampa's new Publix has been a long wished for addition. The new one in St. Petersburg will become the downtown area's second Publix — only half a dozen blocks or so from the first. It's one more sign of each downtown's growing density.

Read more:Here's an update on the eagerly awaited Publix stores planned for the downtowns in Tampa and St. Petersburg

10.

Project: Raymond James Financial Pasco campus

Where: Pasco County, State Road 56 east of the Shoppes at Wiregrass retail development

Developer: Not announced.

What is it: A second campus to handle overflow growth from the investment firm's headquarters in the Carillon office park. It's a location picked as less vulnerable to storm surge in the event of a hurricane.

Why Wow! It has been five years since Raymond James said it would buy land for multiple towers in eastern Pasco. The planned expansion was backburnered during the recession and slow economic recovery. Last month, Raymond James finally closed on the 65 acres, another concrete step toward eventual expansion. The company won't say when the Pasco property will get more attention but it will be a coup for Pasco to get a Fortune 500 company's presence when it does.

Read more: Raymond James gets a bargain land deal in Pasco County

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.