TAMPA, Fla.— As a former hedge-fund owner and manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund, Jeffrey Vinik is used to making giant bets in financial markets. Now he is part of a $3 billion wager to revive Tampa’s once-moribund downtown.
Mr. Vinik is teaming with Cascade Investment LLC, the investment firm of Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, in the city’s biggest-ever development, known as Water Street Tampa.
The 50-acre project includes two luxury hotels, office towers and apartment buildings with amenities such as roof gardens and fitness centers. The first element opened last week: Sparkman Wharf is a waterfront entertainment venue with a beer garden and a collection of shipping containers housing eateries by some of the city’s best-known chefs. Office space will come online in 2020.
“It’s going to transform this market,” said James Nozar, chief executive of developer Strategic Property Partners LLC, a partnership of Mr. Vinik and Cascade.
The population of the Tampa metro area grew to nearly 3.1 million at the end of 2017, making it one of the biggest-gaining regions in the U.S. Steady job growth sent the unemployment rate to 2.9% in October.
Mr. Vinik and other developers are now trying to cash in with a flurry of new projects, aiming to remake Tampa as a more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly city that can lure more young professionals.
The Heights, a mixed-use development, has a 314-unit apartment complex and a 73,000-square-foot former streetcar facility that now is home to a food hall and co-working space. Construction is set to begin this month on an office building for the project.
Midtown Tampa is to offer office towers, apartments, hotels and a Whole Foods supermarket—with a public plaza at the center. The 20-acre development is scheduled to break ground next year.
On the residential side, a luxury condo tower on the Hillsborough River downtown will be the tallest building on Florida’s west coast. The units at Riverwalk Place sell for up to more than $2 million.
Teams of 2
50 Air Squats