TAMPA — A large piece of debris on Wednesday flew off one of the two luxury residential towers under construction as part of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa project, officials said.
Tampa Fire Rescue said wind blew “scaffolding materials from an elevated area" from one of the towers under construction at 815 Water Street at about 5:30 p.m. There were no injuries when it crashed to the ground.
“The wind blew some stuff up,” said Tampa Fire Rescue spokesperson Jason Penny. “It was mistaken for a collapse.”
The site of the incident is part of the Water Street Tampa project being overseen by Strategic Property Partners. That is the joint venture between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment, the private wealth fund of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, to build more than 9 million square feet of commercial, residential, hospitality, educational, entertainment, cultural and retail space. Vinik is also a member of FBN Partners, a group of local investors who have loaned $15 million to Times Publishing Co., which owns the Tampa Bay Times.
Coastal Construction, the general contractor for the site, is investigating the cause of the incident with all subcontractors and workers involved, said a spokesperson for Strategic Property Partners, the developer of Water Street Tampa.
“No injuries were reported and debris was immediately removed from the roadway by construction crews," the spokesperson said.
Doug Belden Jr., 28, was out jogging in downtown when he said he came upon the aftermath: a large slab of what looked like metal and rebar that stretched almost from the median to the sidewalk of Meridian Avenue. Workers peered over the top of the building as their bosses urged them to get down as fast as possible, he said.
“You could tell the bosses of the job site were losing it,” he said.
He had just run by the construction site five minutes earlier and felt fortunate to have missed the crash. The area, around the corner from Sparkman’s Wharf and steps from the Tampa Riverwalk, would usually have been packed if not for the coronavirus lockdown, he noted.
“I imagine there would have been some fatalities if this pandemic wasn’t going on and people were out and about,” he said.
The base of 815 Water Street will be the site of the new GreenWise Market grocery store that Publix plans to open. The project itself will have two towers, 26 and 21 stories, and will have a total of 420 units across from Amalie Arena. It was not known which tower the debris fell from.