TAMPA — Westshore Marina District is destined to transform Tampa's western waterfront but the work will be done almost exclusively by South Florida developers.
Bainbridge Companies of Palm Beach County closed Friday on a 12-acre, $13.2 million parcel on which it plans 345 luxury apartments. That follows the sale of smaller parcels earlier this year to Miami's Related Group and WCI Communities, a subsidiary of Miami-based Lennar.
The seller in all three was Fort Lauderdale's BTI Partners, the master developer of the 52 acres at Gandy and Westshore boulevards. The deal with Bainbridge is likely the final sale to a third party as BTI launches its own project, a 16-story condo tower overlooking Tampa Bay.
Why so much South Florida interest in a part of Tampa that has long been industrial?
"Sometimes when you look at something from the outside, you are able to see things you're not able to from the inside," Noah Breakstone, BTI's managing partner, said Tuesday. "We view Westshore Marina District as really being an incredible waterfront property where a lot of residential living has direct access to the water. That's what exciting to me about this parcel and I believe Related and Bainbridge and WCI see the same thing."
Bainbridge's apartment complex will be gated and include game rooms, exercise facilities, dog parks with a washing station and 24-hour security. The company, which owns rental communities in several states, is also developing 930 Central Flats, a 218-unit apartment project in St. Petersburg's Edge District that is under construction and due to be finished next spring.
After the original plans for the marina district property collapsed during the recession, BTI acquired the land and began marketing it to seasoned developers. In February, Related paid $11.8 million for 8.5 acres on which it has started underground work for 396 waterfront apartments. In May, WCI paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres on which it plans 35 townhomes. It is expected to close on another parcel early next year.
BTI decided to keep a prime waterfront tract for Marina Pointe, a 112-unit condo tower. Although the project was announced only a few weeks ago, "we've been very surprised to see the number of people requesting information," Breakstone said. "It's been well over a couple of hundred."
The company will start taking reservations in the next few weeks for the condos, tentatively priced from the $600,000s to more than $1.5 million.
BTI still has some smaller parcels for which it hopes to land restaurants and a grocery store. When finished in 2020 at an estimated cost of $600-million, Westshore Marina District could also include a 200-room hotel, office space and up to 240 marina slips. Construction will proceed in tandem with another mega-project, the extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway on Gandy Boulevard.
Of course, a lot of things could change if the Tampa Bay area is devastated by a major hurricane like Irma.
"Hopefully, we (in South Florida) will slow it down for you,'' Breakstone said.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate