Tampa Housing Authority picks Related Group as lead developer on West River project

An artist’s rendering shows a mix of business and living space in Tampa’s West River project. Construction could start in 2018.
An artist’s rendering shows a mix of business and living space in Tampa’s West River project. Construction could start in 2018.
Published June 30, 2016

TAMPA — An upscale Miami developer has been chosen to lead the city's signature West River redevelopment, a $500 million project intended to expand the revitalization of downtown west of the Hillsborough River.

The Tampa Housing Authority's governing board on Wednesday approved the selection of the Related Group for the West River project, which includes the construction of 1,636 condos and apartments and 177,000 square feet of retail and office space.

The ambitious effort is part of a larger plan to transform 200 acres on the west side of the Hillsborough River between Interstate 275 and Columbus Drive. The area is home to the sprawling 44-acre North Boulevard Homes, the city's oldest public housing project, and an aging apartment tower for seniors.

In their place will be a mix of parks, open space, condos and apartments, some priced at market rate and some designated as public and Section 8 housing.

The project will be developed under the name Related Urban Development, a venture of Related and its public-private partnership affiliate the Urban Development Group.

"With a developer of the caliber of Related Urban on our team, I am very confident we can leverage these predominantly public land holdings and transform the West River area into a vibrant, walkable, transit-oriented and diverse community," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn in a statement.

Board members on Wednesday also awarded the contract for construction of two other West River apartment buildings worth an estimated $40 million each to Bank of America Community Development Corp.

Related was founded by Jorge Perez, who has a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

It was chosen from among six firms that bid for the project. Its website touts the company as "Florida's leading developer of sophisticated metropolitan living."

That description could apply to its recent Tampa projects.

Among them is the Manor at Harbour Island, a 21-story, 340-unit tower planned next to Plaza Harbour Island that has been fiercely opposed by neighbors. Related last year bought the Tampa Tribune headquarters at 202 S Parker St. for $17.75 million and plans a mid-rise residential project on the 4-acre site that overlooks the Hillsborough River. The company also built the Pierhouse at Channelside.

Related also has experience developing affordable housing projects, such as Collins Park in Miami, a 124-unit apartment tower for seniors.

"This is a company that doesn't partner with anybody," said Leroy Moore, chief operating officer of the Housing Authority. "For them to go into a new opportunity area like West River says a lot as to how they perceive this city as being ready for this type of quality development."

City leaders envision West River as a walkable, mixed income community that will be further enhanced by the $35 million remaking of nearby Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, the most expensive park project in the city's history.

Under the agreement with Related, at least 820 rental units and 30 percent of the for-sale homes will be available for low- or moderate-income families, Housing Authority officials said.

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The agency began relocating residents out of North Boulevard Homes and the senior center about a year ago. Those residents will be given priority if they want to return to the area once the project is built.

Financing for the projects will come from a variety of sources including private equity, community development block grants, and an application for a $30 million Choice Neighborhood grant, which was submitted by the city this week, Moore said

If that grant is successful, demolition of the existing public housing could begin in 2017 with construction starting the following year, Moore said.

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.