One of Midtown Tampa’s biggest selling points — a 3-acre lake around which the developer will build small gathering areas, with CrossFit-style exercise equipment and a dog park — began as a solution for the Florida Department of Transportation.
When FDOT was looking to widen Interstate 275 in Tampa in 2012, the project required a retention pond. New York-based Bromley Cos., the developer of Midtown Tampa, was all too happy to absorb that into their district.
“We thought, ‘This is now an incredible opportunity to integrate 3 acres of water into our development,'” Nicholas Haines, CEO of Bromley Cos., told the Tampa Bay Business Journal on Monday.
That retention pond will now be known as Midtown Lake, a central feature of the 22-acre mixed-use Midtown Tampa, which will officially begin vertical construction on all nine of its buildings on Wednesday. Bromley, which started assembling the land that became Midtown in the late 1990s, is the master developer and has partnered with other developers on the hotel, office and residential portions of the project.
While Wednesday’s groundbreaking will be a splashy event, with Bromley’s New York executives and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on hand to mark the occasion, work within Midtown has been underway for months. An old office building on the site was demolished in mid-2018; Bromley has sunk nearly $30 million into infrastructure improvements alone.
In Midtown, Bromley is looking to combine the engaging, pedestrian-friendly streetscape of an urban village with the comfort and convenience of modern development (its office tower boasts a parking ratio of five spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space; downtown office towers typically offer three spaces or less per 1,000 square feet). Bromley sees Lake Midtown and a central plaza, Midtown Commons, as key to the development’s success; they’re an amenity for office tenants and residents and a draw for the nearby neighborhood, even when they don’t necessarily want to visit a retailer or restaurant.
The promise of that public realm — along with pre-leasing efforts — are yielding results: Haines said Bromley has commitments for about 60 percent of the retail space in Midtown, and a 60,000-square-foot office tenant is in the final stages of leasing space in Midtown One, a speculative office tower.
“The whole point is to have this seamless pedestrian experience, and it doesn’t really exist in Tampa,” Haines said.
The horizontal construction has replaced city-owned infrastructure and roads; to make way for that, the city has vacated all the roads within Midtown, giving Bromley full control of the streets and the ability to close them for special events like markets and festivals.
“The public area is something we’re spending a lot of time on,” Haines said.
So far, Whole Foods Market Inc. has signed on to relocate to Midtown; True Food Kitchen will open its first Tampa area location in Midtown, and chef Chris Ponte will have a restaurant there, too. Haines declined to name the 60,000-square-foot office tenant with whom he’s nearing a deal, but coworking giant WeWork is rumored to be considering a location in Midtown.
Midtown will also include a dual-branded Aloft and Element hotel. For Bromley, Haines said, one of the most exciting parts of the development has been interest across all four sectors of real estate in the district: retail, residential, office and hospitality space.
“If we look back over the last 20 years, I think there’s no time we’d rather deliver this project than today,” Haines said. “I think each of the things we’re doing there is exceedingly strong.”