Water Street Tampa launching vertical construction, starting with JW Marriott on April 24

The planned JW Marriott hotel will be built next door to the existing Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. Image via Strategic Property Partners
The planned JW Marriott hotel will be built next door to the existing Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. Image via Strategic Property Partners
Published April 13, 2018

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa will formally start construction on its 26-story JW Marriott hotel on April 24, developers said Friday.

"It's exciting," Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said in an interview this week. Vinik has teamed up with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, through Gates' Cascade Investment wealth fund, to launch the $3 billion Water Street Tampa redevelopment.

With 519 rooms at 615 S Morgan Street, the JW Marriott will add capacity that Vinik said Tampa's market needs to host events like the Super Bowl, coming in February 2021, and the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is here now.

"Hotels in this town are sold out, I bet, over 100 nights a year," he said. "We know we're sold out" — at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, which the Vinik-Cascade partnership also owns — "more than that. There's just not enough hotel rooms, and it restricts activity in Tampa."

When complete in 2020, the JW Marriott is expected to have Tampa's highest roof-top bar and biggest hotel ballroom, plus a four-story atrium and a full-service restaurant on the ground floor.

A LOFTY DESTINATION: Tampa's highest rooftop bar may be coming to JW Marriott at Water Street Tampa

The sixth floor will have a spa and fitness area, plus another restaurant with outdoor seating, a bar, an event lawn, a pool and sun terrace.

Rising next to the Tampa Marriott Waterwide Hotel & Marina and between the Tampa Convention Center and Amalie Arena, the hotel also has been welcomed as a boost to the city's ability to attract more, bigger and more prestigious conventions.

GAME-CHANGER: Having JW Marriott run Water Street Tampa's new 519-room hotel expected to help Tampa pursue more upscale conventions

The April 24 ground-breaking also will mark the long-awaited launch of the first phase of vertical construction at Water Street Tampa.

The 50-acre project aims to transform the waterfront with a new medical school building for the University of South Florida, a medical arts office building, apartment and condominium towers, a grocery store, a new home for the Museum of Science and Industry, along with ground-floor stores and restaurants.

Tens of millions of dollars in construction on roads, an expanded water and sewer network, and other infrastructure has been underway for nearly two years. At build-out, Water Street Tampa is planned to have 2 million square feet of new office space, including downtown Tampa's first new office towers in nearly 25 years, about 3,500 residences for sale or rent, 1 million square feet of new retail, cultural, educational, and entertainment space and 12.9 acres of new parks or public gathering spots.

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Contact Richard Danielson at or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times