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  1. Real Estate

The guys who brought you Tampa's Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they've already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

TAMPA — Coming soon from the developers who brought you the Armature Works: Heights Union, two high-end office buildings next door to the trendy food hall, event space and co-working complex overlooking the Hillsborough River.

Developers said Friday they plan to go in for city permitting on the $102 million project in coming days. The equity and financing are in place. Construction is scheduled to start by the end of the year. Occupants — including a publicly traded regenerative medicine company, AxoGen, which is taking a quarter of the space — are expected to move in the first quarter of 2020.

That schedule would deliver Heights Union ahead of other Class A office projects recently announced at Water Street Tampa and Midtown Tampa, two other ambitious mixed-used projects.

Heights Union is planned to rise six stories at the corner of W Palm Avenue and N Tampa Street. It will include 300,000 square feet of office space, 42,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, a linear park that saves all the grand trees along Palm, a garage with 1,500 spaces, a panoramic rooftop deck, high ceilings, large industrial windows and exposed structural elements.

SoHo Capital, the firm that created the Armature Works as part of a 50-acre project known as The Heights, will develop Heights Union as a joint venture with the Atlanta-based TPA Group. The Heights Union project team also includes DPR as the general contractor, Alfonso Architecture leading the design and Cushman & Wakefield as the exclusive leasing adviser.

Developers say they intend to deliver what's becoming known in large metro markets as a Class AA project — a subset of commercial real estate's Class A category that covers new construction with best-in-class finishes and amenities. And they see Heights Union as a boutique alternative to traditional office space, surrounded by an urban village that puts a premium on place-driven aesthetics and experiences.

"We want the story of The Heights to be about new jobs in (zip code) 33602," SoHo Capital principal Adam Harden said. "We envision those as good-paying, brain-based jobs that bring something to the larger community, and that's what we've been pursuing."

Harden's partner, Chas Bruck, said SoHo Capital is looking to bring in national and regional companies interested in adaptable work spaces that promote collaboration in a comfy, stylish setting.

Gross rents will be in the mid $30s per square foot, which will include four parking spaces per 1,000 square feet leased. That's lower than at Water Street Tampa (mid $40s at Sparkman Wharf and low to mid $50s at a 20-story tower planned to break ground next spring) and Midtown Tampa (low to mid $40s for Midtown One, the first of three office buildings).

Some tenants are already emerging. On Thursday, AxoGen signed a 14-year lease for 75,000 square feet at Heights Union, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

AxoGen, based in Alachua, north of Gainesville, focuses on the science, development and commercialization of technologies for peripheral nerve regeneration and repair. Its rent will start at $32 per square foot in the eighth month of its lease.

"We've seen interest from technology companies, med tech, R&D, creative firms, and a myriad of support services that follow those firms — boutique law firms, patent (and) specialized professionals," Harden said. "I think the type of project that we're creating is one that will attract a certain type of user: Somebody who's looking for a competitive advantage in recruiting in a tight work force where talent is hard to come by.

"The millennial generation puts a lot of stock in quality of life, walkability and urban locations," he said.

RELATED: A long-awaited transformation at the Armature Works in Tampa

So Harden and Bruck are also moving ahead on other aspects of The Heights' public spaces: the extension of the Riverwalk; the construction of a riverfront pavilion with a seafood restaurant and rental concession for paddle boards and kayaks; and a pier with a viewing platform, water taxi dock and 27 public-access boat slips.

While the last couple of weeks have included announcements about office construction plans at Water Street Tampa and Midtown Tampa, Harden said those moves have not influenced Heights Union's timing.

"We don't tend to talk about things we're doing or announce them until we're actually doing them," he said. "We're a little guy, and we like being in that position. This is the plan that we've been putting forward since the beginning."

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Contact >Richard Danielson