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Water Street: Downtown Tampa’s $3 Billion Future City Makeover

Tampa Bay, Florida is one of the twenty largest metropolitan areas in the United States made up of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. All, three are growing exponentially and house over 3.7M residents. Tampa is on the verge of a modernization makeover courtesy of Bill Gates and Jeff Vinik. The city’s downtown area, covering 53 acres of land will undergo a $3 billion redevelopment that is to create bold impacts to the waterfront neighborhood.

The massive Tampa Bay smart city project will be developed by Strategic Property Partners (SPP), which is a joint venture between Gates’s investment fund Cascade Investment LLP and Vinik, a local businessman who owns both the National Hockey League (NHL) team Tampa Bay Lightning as well as the Arena Football League team the Tampa Bay Storm.

Tampa’s Water Street Transformation

Located on Florida’s west coast on Tampa Bay, the city of Tampa has nearly 400,000 residents in its 175.22 square mile area. Soon, the long-dormant downtown will experience a change thanks to the combined efforts of Jeff Vinik, a big-thinking business man, with the help of an investment fund from world-famous billionaire Bill Gates, and many other collaborators.

Vinik is ambitious, envisioning a live-work-and-play environment within the mixed-use waterfront neighborhood. Dreaming big, he is using a combination of his business acumen, influence, and personal wealth in order to reinvent Tampa via the Water Street project.

In the past, Tampa was known for having a call center hub; now, the city seeks to leverage various assets, including the University of South Florida and the MacDill Air Force Base so they may pursue firms focused on tech, defense, health care, life sciences, and banking services.

Today, Vinik wants to improve the city, not only through such businesses, but also to generally improve everything about it. With the addition of new high-rise and smart buildings, better pedestrian-friendly streets, medical facilities, among many other improvements, Water Street is a place that creates bold solutions for the people of today and tomorrow.

The Three Stages of Water Street Development

The $3B Water Street project will become downtown Tampa’s envisioned future, to be completed in three phases: Phase 1 by 2020, Phase 2 by 2023, and Phase 3 by 2027. Among the many proposed updates to the waterside area are the following:

  • 13 acres of green and public space, entertainment venues, educational institutions, bike paths, curated shopping, and even culinary experiences.
  • 3,500 apartments or condominiums totaling 3 million square feet of construction.
  • 4 million square feet of offices, which is over a third as big as Tampa’s current office inventory of 6.1 million square feet.
  • Over 1 million square feet of retail stores.
  • Two new hotels – one four-star and one five-star, totaling to 630 modern hotel rooms.
  • The first two new office towers to be built in downtown Tampa over the past two decades.

DreamIt, a venture capital firm and top 10-ranked global accelerator, partnered with Jeff Vinik. They want to help drive startup businesses by providing them a sales pipeline, a network of resources, and even access to investors. Founded in 2008, DreamIt has helped over 300 breakthrough tech companies in various industries including new comers to their inaugural Urban Tech program: GiFly, Flower Turbines, City Zenith, Lotik, Ecomedes, Knowify and Raxar.

Slowly, the project is taking shape. It is to bring tech investment and entrepreneurship to the city, and experts and investors believe the city will undergo such a transformation that Tampa will be practically unrecognizable. In addition, the project is expected to create as many as 3,500 new jobs for the city. Gates and Vinik’s development helps meet both customers and investors. When this public-private partnership falls into place, Tampa may soon reach their goal of becoming a star of the New South through reinvention rather than revival.