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Vinik-Cascade team unveils plans for 500-room hotel for Water Street Tampa

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa's plans for the southern end of downtown continued to come into focus Wednesday as the $3 billion project unveiled the most details yet about its planned 500-room, high-end hotel.

The flag for the hotel, being called 10 Water Street, was not announced.

Still, Strategic Property Partners, the development company formed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment fund, said it will have 126,000 square feet of meeting space and a ballroom with about 30,000 square feet of space — more than any hotel in the Tampa Bay area.

All of it, the company said, will be connected to the existing Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.

With its size and amenities, 10 Water Street is expected to turbo-charge Tampa's ability to attract conventions and big corporate events.

"A true game-changer," said Alex Kaptzan, vice president of convention sales at Visit Tampa Bay. The new hotel will not only help convention recruiters book larger groups, but it should give them the flexibility to book more groups, and to have more overlapping events and less downtime by coordinating the use of rooms and meeting space across the convention center and several hotels.

"The addition of 500 rooms adjacent to the Marriott Waterside, the Embassy Suites and the (Tampa) Convention Center will allow Tampa to more aptly compete for higher-rated corporate groups," Tampa hotel consultant Lou Plasencia said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. "And with the combined amount of meeting space they will have available at the new hotel and at the Waterside, groups and associations will be able to host in-house meetings in very elegant and more intimate surroundings."

The new hotel is expected to break ground in early 2018 on what is now a 2.8-acre parking lot just west of Amalie Arena and immediately south of the city's South Regional Parking Garage. It could open in 2020.

The entrance will include a four-story atrium, and the ground floor will have a full-service restaurant at the corner of S Florida Avenue and Water Street. A spa, fitness center, pool terrace, event lawn, bar and restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating will be on the sixth floor.

The 26th floor will include a rooftop lounge and terrace with 360-degree views of downtown Tampa and Hillsborough Bay. One goal, Strategic Property Partners director of development Bryan Moll said, is to blend "indoor and outdoor experiences."

Strategic Property Partners aims to give the hotel a design and set of amenities that would qualify it as a five-star property, a distinction earned on the strength of variables such as the quality of facilities and guest services, amenities and room rates.

Architects at Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates of Coral Gables are designing the hotel. Champalimaud Design, a New York City-based firm that has done luxury hotel projects from Martha's Vineyard to Beverly Hills to Kuala Lumpur, is creating the interiors. Assuming that their product delivers on that ambition, the Tampa Bay area could finally shed its unwanted reputation as Florida's sole major metro area without a five-star hotel.

And 10 Water Street is not the only hospitality project that Strategic Property Partners has in the works.

This fall, the company plans to detail its plans for a smaller hotel with about 150 rooms. And it is doing a $40 million renovation of the Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, which Vinik and Cascade bought in 2014 for $150 million.

Plasencia, who has advised Strategic Property Partners on its plans, expects the quality and construction of 10 Water Street to be second to none and a welcome addition to Tampa's inventory. But it is the smaller project, he said, that will be Tampa's "first true luxury hotel."

Water Street Tampa is expected to include 3,500 apartments or condominiums, a new medical school building for the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, 2.4 million square feet of office space and 1 million square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment.

"These are two great projects," Plasencia said of the new hotels. Then, more generally, he added: "We're blessed to have Jeff Vinik as the lead on this development. It will be the most transformational project in Tampa since Henry Plant showed up with his railroad."

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