Single tenant may fill more than half of Midtown Tampa’s new office tower

By Jay Cridlin

One major tenant could fill more than half of Midtown Tampa’s forthcoming 400,000-square-foot office tower, according to plans filed with the city.

Architectural renderings and project descriptions indicate that “a single tenant,” described only as “Tenant A,” is lined up to lease the second through ninth floors and 16th through 18th floors of the Midtown East tower (which is actually only 17 stories, as, like many buildings, it won’t have an unlucky 13th floor). Floors 10 through 15 would be occupied by multiple tenants.

In all, the space allotted to Tenant A accounts for more than 234,000 square feet, including an area off the first-floor lobby, plus another 1,533 square feet of balcony space. There’s also 5,182 square feet of terrace space on floors 3 and 17, though it’s unclear whether those would be communal or leased to Tenant A.

It’s rare to see one company lease that much space in a single office building in Tampa, according to commercial real estate services firm JLL. Global telecom company Syniverse leases more than 200,000 square feet at its headquarters in the Highwoods Preserve complex in Tampa Palms, as does international accounting firm PwC at MetWest Two in the Westshore District.

Developers aren’t required to list potential tenant occupancy in these sorts of city filings, said Dave Jennings, the city’s construction services operations manager. But they might do so if facing a design and permitting challenge with, say, bathrooms. A floor with larger conference or training rooms might require more bathrooms for the number of occupants at a given time — in which case a builder can ask to count the bathrooms on an adjacent floor used by the same tenant.

Midtown’s plan, which was only just submitted this month and hasn’t been approved, doesn’t spell this out, Jennings said. But it could be what’s happening.

“They’re going to use an exemption in the code that allows them to go to the floor below or the floor above,” he said. “I would be willing to bet that’s probably some of the reasoning on this one.”

Lead Midtown developer the Bromley Cos. declined to comment.

Dan Woodward, senior vice president and Tampa market leader for Highwoods Properties, which manages Midtown’s office leases, said the company had “nothing to share” about potential Midtown East tenants, “other than we can’t imagine a better place to be better together as far as workplaces go, as evidenced by the continued success of leasing at Midtown West.”

The 220,000-square-foot Midtown West was the first primary office tower to open at Midtown Tampa, a $1 billion mixed-use development at the intersection of Interstate 275 and N Dale Mabry Highway. Last year, two of the area’s largest public companies — professional staffing services firm Kforce and water dispenser company Primo Water — announced they were relocating their headquarters to Midtown West from elsewhere in the city. South State Bank, Kast Construction and Prudential investment arm PGIM Inc. have also leased space there. Woodward said the building is 90% leased out.

Midtown East is expected to break ground by January and be ready by late 2024. According to JLL, it will be Tampa’s largest single new office development delivered since 1992, when 100 North Tampa (100 N Tampa St.) and Truist Place (401 E Jackson St.), added more than 525,000 square feet apiece.

A lease of 11 stories in a single office tower suggests a headquarters or sizable regional hub, said Jeff Tolrud, executive director at Vantix Investment Realty in Tampa.

“This could be huge,” he said. “It could be an out-of-town deal.”

That wouldn’t be uncommon for a project as big as Midtown East, said Lisa McNatt, director of analytics for Tampa for commercial real estate data firm CoStar.

“Larger deals often take place well in advance of construction completion,” McNatt said. “It’s beneficial for the landlord to do it so they have the surety of a tenant, and it’s beneficial for the tenant since they can lock in a lease rate before any additional rent growth takes place.”

Tolrud said Midtown West’s success puts Midtown East in a good position for pre-leasing, regardless of how big the building is.

“I know that it’s been successful on the first one,” he said. “And I know that they’re going to do well on the second one that they do, because it’s just such a great environment.”