Creative offices are planned at a $500 million development in Florida’s Tampa Bay, the latest example of a nationwide effort by owners and investors to pitch the design of workplaces as a draw to land top talent and spur collaboration. The project is expected to be mostly complete when Tampa hosts the Super Bowl in 2021, marking the city’s rise in prominence.
Cushman & Wakefield’s Cool Streets report for 2019 notes that urban retail growth that’s common in big cities like Boston and San Francisco is starting to occur in such tertiary markets as Tampa; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Nashville, Tennessee.
The analysis goes on to explain that cities providing “attractive lifestyles” and other benefits can draw and keep the best workers, leading to job creation critical to a new worldwide economy. “In other words,” the report states, “if you make it cool, they will come.”
That ethos appears to be a goal as Midtown Tampa adds a fourth office building, the Loft at Midtown Tampa. The three-story, 70,000-square building is expected to have ground-floor retail and offices on the second and third floors featuring skylights, high-end finishes, state-of-the-art technology and outdoor terraces that are all designed, according to developer Bromley Cos., to “spark collaboration and creativity,” a marketing pitch that investors are making for what they call creative offices.
And while things may look rosy at the moment in Tampa, there is risk that’s also represented by the project: the rise in speculative building. The Loft and the 150,000-square-foot Midtown One office buildings are under construction with no tenants in place. Even so, Bromley CEO Nicholas Haines said he expects the two buildings to be mostly or fully leased by the time they open at the end of 2020. Two more buildings are planned for the future, which would put Midtown Tampa’s office footprint at 820,000 square feet.
The project is located half a mile from Raymond James Stadium, which is scheduled to host the Super Bowl in February 2021, when most of Midtown Tampa is expected to be finished. Aside from the offices, plans call for 390 apartments, 206,000 square feet of shops and restaurants and a 226-room hotel on 22 acres along North Dale Mabry Highway at Interstate 275.
New high-tech campuses in California built by social media giant Facebook and search engine Google have spawned workplace renovations and creative office development across the nation. Facebook and Google have made their offices fun places to be, with game tables and free food meant to make employees want to stay longer.
The Midtown Tampa offices, to be leased by brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, are planned for the Westshore area, one of the most prestigious in Tampa, which is Florida’s third-largest city. Bromley’s Haines said the Loft is designed to suit various businesses, including law firms, banks and advertising companies.
“They’re all looking for the same thing,” he said in an interview. “They all want vibrant spaces and cool working environments.”
Tampa’s labor market is one of the tightest in the nation and its job growth also ranks among the best in the country in the past five years, according to Brian Alford, CoStar’s director of market analytics tracking the Central and West Florida regions. Also, the unemployment rate is well below the national average, which is at a 50-year low, he added.
“This creates stiff competition among employers to capture talented workers,” Alford noted in an email.
Meanwhile, Tampa’s office construction has soared this year, with more than 2 million square feet underway and a proposed pipeline that keeps growing, as further evidenced by the fourth Midtown Tampa building, Alford explained.
He also said that speculative starts have substantially increased. Of the 2 million square feet tracked under construction by CoStar Market Analytics, more than 50% is being marketed as available. Last year, only 5% of construction in the works was available.