The Central City YMCA is partnering with a local developer on a $600 million expansion project that will more than double the organization’s space and add new shops, homes, offices and hotel rooms to the burgeoning Tampa Heights neighborhood.
Ellison Development filed plans on Thursday for a 1.2-million-square-foot mixed-use development that includes:
- A seven-story, 110,000-square-foot YMCA with a rooftop pool, pickleball courts and a skybridge over Florida Avenue
- A 23-story, 200-room luxury hotel
- Two 24-story residential buildings with 447 units. At least 10% of units will be designated affordable housing.
- A 15-story building with 184,000 square feet of office space
- 100,000 square feet of retail space, including dedicated space for small minority-owned businesses
- 20,000 square feet of green space
- 1,444 parking spaces
- A 10-foot easement along East Palm Avenue for a potential streetcar expansion.
The developer needs city approval to rezone 6.2 acres of land along North Florida Avenue across from the current YMCA.
Matt Mitchell, president and CEO of the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA, said the land has been underutilized for decades. Up until recently, “this really wasn’t a popular neighborhood to develop in,” he said.
That all changed with the grand opening of Armature Works in 2018. Since then, Mitchell said, the YMCA has turned down several offers from developers wanting to buy their land.
“We’ve had a presence here for over a century,” he said. “We have no interest in leaving the community just because development is coming in now.”
Instead, the YMCA will lease its land and reinvest the revenue into programs and services that help serve the community.
The CEO of Ellison Development, Casey Ellison, said he is excited to be a part of the historic neighborhood’s next chapter. He pointed to several other projects slated for the area. They include a 321-unit apartment community from Loci Capital; Heights 201, an office and retail building from Soho Capital; and a 145-room Moxy hotel.
“It’s going to look completely different four or five years from now,” Ellison said.
If the rezoning is approved, construction on the new YMCA will start next summer and be completed by 2026. The entire development will take about five years to finish.
As Tampa Heights changes, Mitchell said, it’s important for longtime residents and stakeholders to be a part of the decision-making process. They’ve already incorporated several community suggestions into the plan, including preserving the Historic Standard Oil building on the site, adding a licensed preschool and providing affordable housing and low-cost retail spaces for up-and-coming minority businesses.
Stay on top of what’s happening in Tampa
Subscribe to our free Tampa Times newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
“We want to evolve along with the neighborhood,” he said. “We can play a role in what happens to make sure it’s adding to the quality of life to the people who already live here.”