Midtown Tampa developer invests in six-figure Covid-resistant upgrades for boutique office building


The developer of Midtown Tampa is betting on Covid-resistant upgrades to lure tenants to its new boutique office building.

The Loft at Midtown, a 70,000-square-foot, three-story office building that broke ground in late 2019, will feature several health-focused amenities. Some, like mostly touch-free restrooms modeled after airport facilities, were planned before the novel coronavirus pandemic. Others, like using UV light to sanitize air within the building’s ductwork, were added after the pandemic.

The building will also use Butterfly MX, a smartphone app, to allow tenants to manage doors — everything from video calling to delivery PINs to elevator access.

All in, the upgrades are an investment in the “low six figures,” said Nicholas Haines, president of New York-based Bromley Cos., the developer of Midtown. Loft at Midtown’s total construction costs are $33 million.

“As a developer you never want to make snap investments that don’t have longer-term value,” Haines told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “Everything we’re doing, we think, has long-term value.”

Bromley is not the only developer in the Tampa area investing in health-focused upgrades to win tenants in the era of Covid-19. Feldman Equities is also testing the UV light sanitization in some of its buildings and talking to tenants about other anti-virus technology.

Haines said that while some leases are in late-stage negotiations, no deals have been finalized for Loft at Midtown. Robin Bishop, senior director with Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK), is marketing the space for Bromley.

“We’re talking to a range of tenants for both buildings,” Haines said, referencing Midtown One, the other office building under construction in the district. “The initial couple months of Covid slowed things down dramatically, so we’re seeing tenants starting to emerge and have conversations again.”

As the pandemic has forced many office-based positions to remote work, there’s speculation in the office real estate realm that companies may seek shorter term leases while they adjust their space needs to accommodate more working from home. Haines said Bromley is sticking with more traditional five- and 10-year lease terms.

“As we move forward, we can expect decision makers to focus on features that promote health and wellness, such as touch-free technology and flexible design that allows proper distancing,” Bishop said in a statement. “The Loft’s boutique size and style will also offer an advantage by allowing for a healthy employee-per-square-foot ratio.”