TAMPA — When developers working on Thousand & One, a new office tower in Water Street Tampa, began honing in on the project, they knew they wanted to incorporate the Water Street district’s special certification, called WELL. For the office building, that means that it must meet certain standards for employee health, such as the filtering of the air and water, the proximity to a grocery store and including ample natural light.
Now, as the corporate world continues to try to shake off the coronavirus pandemic, the tower is opening — and that focus on health has taken on new meaning. The tower can’t earn its certification from the International WELL Building Institute until everything is up and running, but it’s expected to do so, a first for a Tampa office building.
“We had no idea going into this ... that any of this would be happening,” said Dave Bevirt, executive vice president of corporate leasing and strategy for Strategic Property Partners. “Now in a post-COVID environment, we’re really on target.”
Strategic Property Partners is spearheading the entire nearly 74-acre development in Water Street which is transforming Tampa’s downtown. The $3.5 Water Street Development is led by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment, owned by Bill Gates. Cascade and Vinik are also investors in the company Delos, which created the institute in charge of the WELL certifications.
In addition to health, Thousand & One’s design also focuses on natural elements: Its facade features a wavy pattern inspired by mangrove roots, and small pockets of plants — all native, and fed by rain alone — decorate both the entryway and grow on the building’s terraces and awnings. Small fountains and pools outside gurgle to add natural sounds, and are fed by underground water, Bevirt said.
Thousand & One was designed by New York firm CookFox Architects, and has 375,000 square feet of office space plus 12,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. Asking rent starts at roughly $50,000 for an entire floor, according to Bevirt.
In between Thousand & One and a neighboring high-rise, there’s also a shaded “pocket park,” where workers will be able to get lunch from Naked Farmer, a local restaurant that will occupy one the building’s retail spots. One block away, a Greenwise by Publix will soon be open.
As the rattling, busy construction of Water Street rages on outside, the lobby, featuring cool white floors and thin, vertical wood paneling in the shape of waves, was quiet and ready for tenants Wednesday.
Vinik is a partner in an investment group that has loaned $15 million to the Times Publishing Co., owner of the Tampa Bay Times. Strategic Property Partners organized a tour for reporters one day ahead of its official opening Thursday. Its first office tenant, a tax accounting firm called RSM, is scheduled to move in in September. Other confirmed future tenants are Suffolk Construction and a real estate investment trust called Sila.
“We have an extraordinary amount of leasing activity right now,” Bevirt said. “We’re in lease negotiations right now for well over 100,000 square feet’s worth of tenants.” He declined to give an expected timeline for when the building could be full.
The tower’s penthouse features a small kitchen, a boardroom that companies will be able to reserve, an open space to hold events and an outdoor terrace with more plants, which Bevirt envisions working well for company cocktail hours.
The building also has a gym for people who work there, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Water Street. Additionally, there are dozens of 10-foot windows around the walls of the office floors, granting sweeping views of the bay, Amalie Arena, Sparkman Wharf and downtown. All that light, the developers said, was intentional.
“When 3 o’clock hits, everyone at the office needs a pick-me-up, whether it’s coffee, sugar, or whatever else to keep you going,” said Johan Koch, senior vice president of marketing. “WELL is actually the counter to that ... You’re not sitting underneath florescent lights that are completely zapping your energy. You don’t have to worry about muggy air because carbon dioxide is building up in the environment.”
By making Thousand & One a place that prioritizes wellness, it increases worker productivity, thereby making more money for the companies that will occupy it, the developers said — a centerpiece of their pitch to prospective tenants. One sign that things are changing, Bevirt said, is that companies’ human resources departments are getting more and more involved in those tours and discussions.
“There’s a war on talent U.S.-wide ... (and) we’re effectively a tool to help you recruit and retain,” he said. “When we meet with these out-of-town, big companies coming here, it’s the head of HR that’s coming.”