When it comes to corporate appeal as a place to do business, Tampa and Hills-
borough County rank among the top choices in the nation. The county's job growth rate of 5 percent last year was highest in the state and among the highest in the nation. Commercial construction totaling $538 million in building permits issued in 1999 (a 12-year high mark; a 14-year high for residential construction) confirms that accommodations are in demand for all the new workers. "Over 50,000 net new jobs have been created over five years," says Jay Garner, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. "We're a dominant financial center and, with 18 percent of our work force engaged in manufacturing, we have a strong manufacturing base."
The latest job trends come from the technology sector. Tampa ranks 13th among the top cyber-cities in the nation, fifth among the top 20 for high-tech jobs and the Tampa Bay area is the second top market in the Southeast for Internet use. "We have more high-tech businesses in the Tampa Bay area than in Austin [Texas]," Garner says. A recent report by an Orlando consultant says that 1,600 such firms are established in the bay area compared to Austin's 1,200. "Ten years ago, who would have thought that the Internet and wireless world would be as strong as it is today."
Other firsts the county boasts are size of population, effective buying income, total retail sales and best of the top 25 choice cities in Florida as ranked by Outlook Magazine last year. "Travelers come here and fall in love with the area," says Garner. "Then they move here to work or start a business."
Chase Outside Manhattan
Something along those lines happened to Gene Marshall, the Tampa Bay area's top executive with Chase Manhattan Bank. He moved to the Tampa Bay area 11 years ago when Chase BankCard Services Inc. relocated from New York to the Westshore area of Tampa.
"This area is tremendous," says Marshall, the firm's senior vice president and center manager. "When you move your family, you want to make sure you're moving them into a positive environment. This area offers a lot for kids to grow up with sports and recreational activities year around. It has a decent school system [his son attended public schools and is currently a student at Florida State University] and the schools are improving. The arts are growing. The cost of living and home prices are reasonable. And no income tax in the state makes it even more interesting. The quality of life here stacks favorably with anywhere in the nation."
Marshall supervised 63 workers 11 years ago, and Chase Home Mortgage Corp. also had a back office operation in Tampa at the time. "It was the success of the mortgage operations that led to our decision to locate more operations in Tampa," says Marshall.
Now Marshall's division employs 1,350 workers and the home mortgage business 350, operating in four buildings at Fountain Square in Westshore, in 625,000 square feet of space. Other divisions in Hillsborough bring total employment to 2,350.
"Growth will continue to come over the years, predominantly from New York," Marshall says. "The strategy of moving jobs here is recognizing that it's more efficient doing business in the Tampa Bay area. We hire tremendous workers here. Chase is a global corporation and can move anywhere it wants. City and county officials make it easy to do business here. They have partnered with us, especially for expansions. They guide us through the process, working with us each step of the way."
And this is the message Marshall has delivered to New York "to sell this area to decision-makers," he says. The decision-makers must have listened closely, as they are in the process of transferring another 2,140 new jobs to Tampa and Hillsborough County. The Diversified Consumer Service business unit is bringing 660 jobs to the firm's Fountain Square campus.
Channelside Shops, the $35-million retail, dining and entertainment complex being built next to the cruise ship terminal in downtown Tampa, is due to open in November.
Chase Treasury Solutions, adding 1,480 new jobs to the area, will be located in three buildings totaling 450,000 square feet at the Highland Oaks office park in Brandon. "Our decision has been borne out that the interchange of Interstates 4 and 75 is a great location," says John Zutter, the firm's managing director. "Our people relocating from New York tell us the site is suiting them well and they are really happy. They have a range of options of how they want to live, from a farm in the north to an apartment close by. Their families are settling in and they like the area and its sense of community."
One of the immediate benefits of the relocation is more time to spend with their families. "They were facing two-hour commutes here [in New York]," Zutter says. "It's 15 minutes now. They get to see more of their family and this makes them more productive and healthy."
At least half of the new positions at this business unit are technology oriented, due to the firm's emphasis on "Internet business," says Zutter. "We're investing very heavily on the Internet and New Economy and this [Highland Oaks] is one of the major areas where this will take place."
Finding those technology employees has been going well. "We started hiring in June and are getting a good reception in the market," Zutter says. "Early indications are creating confidence."
The Chase Manhattan Bank move has once again placed the Tampa Bay area among the Top 10 corporate relocations in the world as cited by Site Selection magazine. In 1998 Citicorp's expansion in Hillsborough County earned that designation. "This reflects our long-term commitment to our clients' success," says Robin Ronne, director of the chamber's Economic Development Depart-ment. "It ratifies that we are able to compete for any relocation in the world. With these kinds of companies coming here (they do a great deal of due diligence) it affirms this area's ability to handle this kind of capital investment."
And the I-75 corridor seems to be on its way to becoming a center of international financial transactions. Ronne says that when he looks from I-75 at the Citibank and Chase Manhattan complexes, he thinks of "Wall Street South. Citibank handles $450 billion in transactions each day and Chase Treasury Solutions, the largest facilitator of transactions around the world, executes $1.5 trillion per day."
While these high-tech financial centers along I-75 are flashing dollars around the globe, office space in the Westshore business district is filling with firms creating the technology to make those transactions possible. San Jose, Calif.-based Ariba Inc. has moved into 50,000 square feet at Corporate Center I, a 400,000-square-foot Class A office building recently delivered to the market by Crescent Resources Inc. "This location will handle software application development and will be a support center and training facility," Ronne says. "They'll have 100 employees."
Ariba ranks twelfth on the "Web 50," a list published by Worth magazine of the 50 fastest-growing Internet companies. Hillsborough County observers may be interested in the fact that Ariba recently purchased Tradex Technologies Inc., an e-commerce firm that began in Tampa but moved to Atlanta last year.
Another e-commerce firm that started in Tampa seven years ago has recently occupied the 90,000 square feet of the top floor at Corporate Center I. CommerceQuest, a business-to-business (B2B) infrastructure company, has received funding from Wayne, Penna.-based Internet Capital Group to support its rapid growth. "They're the biggest of the B2B incubators in North America," says Colin Osborne, CommerceQuest's chairman. "They began funding us two-and-a-half years ago. We were one of their first investments."
The firm had a steady workforce of 50 until cash infusion. Now it employs 450 people "spread across North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa," Osborne says. "We had $25 million in sales last year and are looking to significantly expand that over the next two years."
The move into Corporate Center I consolidates local employees from several locations. "A fast-growing company needs quick communications and that's simplified if we're together," says Osborne. "It's an advantage for our staff and visitors to be right by the airport."
Most of the employees at the firm are technology oriented and Osborne observes a trend developing for recruiting staff. "We see a significant interest in migration from Silicon Valley," he says. "It's too congested and too expensive. The attraction to Tampa is very strong. These families like being on the water, the weather, the low cost and low crime. They like a forward-looking company like ours. So Tampa is being seen more as somewhere worth moving into in a high-tech sense. We're not a Silicon Valley but we're certainly getting there."
Helping to make that transition a greater likelihood, Atlanta-based IXL Inc. (Nasdaq:IIXL) recently opened an office in Westshore. The firm provides e-business strategies to Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 companies. Bill Nussey, the company's chief executive officer, has been ranked first of the top 25 consultants by Consulting magazine for putting together one of the largest e-strategy contracts ever awarded. The firm recently signed a deal with Virgin Atlantic Airlines that will generate $50 million in revenues in its first year. Other clients include General Electric Corp., Delta Air Lines, Home Depot, FedEx and Chase Manhattan Bank. Its ranks 20th on the Worth "Web 50."
"We're using the Tampa office to support our efforts into Florida," says John Leeming, the firm's director of business development. "There's a maturing technical environment in the Tampa Bay area and we have identified a variety of Fortune 1000 companies that are located in Tampa and along the I-4 corridor. We assist companies to transform their businesses to fully leverage the opportunities of the Internet so they can marry the on-line world with their traditional channels of distribution and sales."
Another B2B technology firm, Arlington, Va.-based User Technology Associates (UTA), has set up a 7,000-square-foot Westshore office that employs 20 tech workers. "We've chosen Tampa due to the convenience of its location and the great resources of highly trained technical people," says Yong Kim, the firm's president. "I like the quality of life, and, honestly, it has a good transportation system."
The mission at UTA is to "make high tech easier," Kim says. "The most important thing is to help companies expand their B2B relationships. I've chosen Tampa as a software center due to our key people there. Our super-duper software developers are in Tampa. Scott Buchanan is one of the top developers in the world in Clarion. His team are experts in Internet and Web business development."
The company's specialty is rapid deployment of Web-based operations. "We deliver systems anywhere from two days to a month for our customers to use immediately," says Kim. "We have pioneered this in Tampa. Our Web-based applications are in fourth-generation languages to develop rapid prototype systems."
The migration of firms such as these to Westshore has led to the absorption of nearly 830,000 square feet in the last year, as reported in this month's Office Analysis (page 56) by the Maddux Report's research department. Nearly half of that has occurred at Corporate Center I, the first new Class A office building to come on the market in 10 years in Westshore. Other tenants besides those already cited include the 93,198-square-foot headquarters for Outback Steakhouse Inc., Bay Cities Bank and Cigna Healthcare. "Within six months it has been nearly fully occupied," says Ron Rotella, executive director of the business organization, the Westshore Alliance.
Developer Crescent Resources Inc. isn't finished building Class A space. "Our next building will be 300,000 square feet at International Plaza [adjacent to Corporate Center I]," says Joe Taggart, the firm's vice president. "We've bought two sites from Outback to build another two 300,000-square-foot office buildings. That will be three more buildings, in addition to Corporate Center I, totaling 1.2 million square feet."
That's a hefty addition to the five million square feet already in Florida's largest office market. And even more is planned. New York-based Bromley Development Corp. has purchased 17 acres at the corner of Dale Mabry Highway North and I-275 for a $189-million, 1.2-million square-foot project that includes two high-rise towers with 700,000 square feet of office space, a 300-room luxury hotel and 280,000 square feet of retail space.
"They have demolished all the [old] buildings," Rotella says. "The project should be ready for leasing in two years."
The neighboring Walter Industries building sitting on 12.6 acres at an opposite corner has been placed on the market. "That space is ready to be redeveloped," says Robin Ronne, the Tampa chamber's Economic Development Department director.
Retail on the march
Meanwhile, retail space is emerging to provide a quantum leap in shopping opportunities for Tampa Bay area residents. Taubman Centers Inc. is developing the 1.2-million-square-foot Inter-national Plaza that will be anchored by high-end retailers Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Tiffany & Co. and Dillard's. Grand opening for the center is scheduled September 14, 2001. The project also includes a 250-room hotel.
"It will be incredible shopping to have those high-end retail stores in Tampa right next to the airport," says Rotella. "This mall will encourage South Americans to fly into Tampa to shop and then fly back home."
Nevertheless, the project is surrounded in controversy concerning reported sweetheart deals made between the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority and developer Richard Corbett, who in turn made the deal with Taubman. Twice the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation recommended the Federal Aviation Administration withhold federal funds from the airport because it was not leasing the land at fair-market value. A St. Petersburg Times investigation revealed that an appraiser within the space of one month reported that Corbett's 155.95 acres were worth about $18,750 an acre but that a 65.7-acre tract less than a mile away from the Corbett land was worth $345,129 an acre. The Times analysis concluded that taxpayers were being shortchanged "at least $220 million." However, a FAA review issued in July said it did not object to the terms and concluded that federal laws are not being violated, and the mall is under construction.
West Shore Plaza, whose owners, Grosvenor International Ltd., petitioned for a federal investigation into the land deal involving International Plaza, continues to enhance its offerings to shoppers. Less than a mile away from the new mall, West Shore Plaza will have a new 14-screen AMC theater, scheduled to open in November. "It will feature all the latest and greatest in theater design," says Tom Miles, general manager of the one-million-square-foot mall, "creating another bubble of traffic for us at night."
An additional 75,000 square feet of in-line retail will bring a 25,000-square-foot Old Navy store and new shops to the center along with several new restaurants. "The restaurants lined up when we announced the opening of the AMC," Miles says. "We're adjacent to 75,000 office workers that like our location."
While West Shore Plaza continues to reinvent itself, Tampa International Airport is following suit. Construction has begun on the new $55-million, 247,000-square-foot Airside E terminal, a 14-gate facility that will be occupied primarily by Delta Air Lines.
"We have a $400-million development program," says Louis Miller, the airport director. "This year we'll completely renovate the ticketing area and then we'll do a major expansion of car rental facilities. The Tampa Bay area is the 13th largest market in the United States for car rentals. We're seeing 14- to 15-percent growth in car rental activity."
That growth is just one indicator of the activities at TIA, which is ranked 7th among the world's airports by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. It is the third-fastest growing airport in the nation. "Our traffic this year is up 7.5 percent," Miller says. "That's double the national average and that's slowed down a bit. Last year we were up 9 percent. The capacity of seat departures per day continues to grow. The airlines are trying to increase capacity to meet demand. It's hard to keep up with this growth rate."
On the highways
With increasing traffic at the airport and new businesses coming to Tampa, maintaining capacity on the area's road network is a major concern that has been recognized even in Tallahassee. Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature have approved $955 million for several road improvement projects in Tampa. The so-called Mobility 2000 initiative will help pay for reconstructing the interchanges at the Veterans Expressway and Spruce St. and State Road 60, widening I-275 from the Howard Frankland bridge to downtown Tampa and expanding I-75 to six lanes from Fowler Ave. to Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in northeast Tampa.
"This is a good news/bad news situation," says Ned Baier, Hillsborough County's manager of the transportation division. "The good news is the state is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Tampa Bay interstate system. This pushes things up five to 10 years, earlier than it would have been otherwise. The bad news is the $1-billion shortfall for major county roads and state highways throughout the county [that feed traffic to the Interstates]. There aren't enough resources available. We'll have a limited road-widening program over the next five years."
While the county's leadership scratches its collective head to find ways to improve the smaller road networks, money is available for expansion of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. "The Expressway Authority has several million dollars to spend," says Baier. "They'll extend the expressway across I-75 near Brandon Town Center. That $65-million connector project is on schedule for construction next year. They're also proposing a new interchange connecting the Channel District. That will be a good redevelopment opportunity for Tampa."
And it's an area that start-up technology companies are migrating to for less expensive office space. Knowledge View Inc., a multimedia company that develops tutorials for software, has leased a 25,000-square-foot warehouse in that section of the city.
Gold Standard Multimedia also develops medical tutorial software and is located in a 10,000-square-foot headquarters "across the Hillsborough River from downtown," says Jon Seymour, the firm's president. "I have a great view of downtown." This fast-growing technology company has been adding office space and employees. "We're up to 52 employees now," Seymour says.
The company provides national retailers such as Eckerd and Walgreens with drug information resources for use by pharmacists. "Our second major line is medical education," says Seymour. "We're a leading provider of electronic courseware. And our third product line is the virtual human initiative that has been four years in the making. Our products on the market are three-dimensional anatomy software packages that enable medical students and physicians to visualize anatomy as well as allow medical illustrators to create 3D anatomy for publications."
The company has enjoyed "two straight years of exceptional growth," Seymour says. "We've considered ourselves as an IPO track company but the market is not all that willing right now. We're aggressively positioning ourselves to take advantage of that when the window opens up again."
Maritrans Inc. (NYSE:TUG) saw its own window of opportunity to save costs of operations by relocating its headquarters from Philadelphia to the Tampa Bay area and has opened an office on Harbour Island for 25 employees. The firm has a total of 700 employees and is one of the nation's largest oil shipping lines.
Downtown high tech
But while companies are coming into the area, office space in downtown Tampa shows a 15-percent vacancy rate and 10 percent for Class A buildings. "The interesting thing about downtown is that most new occupancy is taking place from high-tech users," says Dick Beard of R.A. Beard Co., developer of several downtown buildings. "The trick is that rent levels are still lower than what it takes to build new product. That will be a few more years in the making."
To put things in perspective, vacancy rates have improved markedly. "In 1992 we had three large office buildings vacant and one of the highest vacancy rates of any downtown in the country," says Jim Cloar, executive director of the Tampa Downtown Partnership. "With aggressive marketing by building owners, our vacancy rates have dropped significantly."
The momentum of development downtown has spurred the recent announcement of several new office projects. Pinnacle Group Holdings Inc. plans to develop a 250,000-square-foot project at Channelside Drive, and the Hogan Group has announced Heritage Park, a $200-million project that would includes three buildings totaling 1-million square feet of office space. That's a project proposed for some time in the future.
The Hogan Group is preparing to open its $35-million, 230,000-square-foot Channelside Shops (formerly called Channelside at Garrison Seaport), which will provide a 10-screen Regal Theaters cinema, an IMAX theater, restaurants and retail shops. The complex is expected to add to the variety of entertainment opportunities available to travelers through the Port of Tampa as well as to those attending meetings at the nearby Tampa Convention Center and the Tampa Waterside Marriott hotel.
The 27-story, 717-room luxury hotel opened earlier in the year and has had an occupancy rate at 77 percent, well above what company executives had anticipated. Less than a year after it opened, it will serve as headquarters for the National Football League Super Bowl XXXV, to be played at Raymond James Stadium in January.
"The early momentum continues at the Marriott," Cloar says. "The convention center is expanding its meeting room space to accommodate larger crowds. Their bookings are up. This fall will be the busiest season at the Ice Palace with its series of concerts and Tampa Bay Lightning games. And the Aquarium is doing well. It's adding exhibits and reaching a larger market."
The Port Authority is expanding its capacity to accommodate cruise vessels. "We're upgrading to get the créme de la créme of cruise ships," says Alex Petralik, the port's director of trade development. "We plan to build cruise terminals along the waterfront on Channelside Drive to handle four or five cruise ships at one time. We'll dredge the channel so that a large cruise ship can turn 360 degrees in the channel."
Uncertainty looms as to development of another hotel on Port Authority property in the Channelside area. Orlando-based Royal Crest Corp. had announced plans to build a 26-story, $140-million Westin hotel but has not moved forward on the project to meet deadlines set by the Port Authority. As a result, the Port Authority is considering opening the project to bid by other developers.
But development of the 200,000-square-foot Treasure Pointe retail complex adjacent to the Ice Palace, as announced by Trammell Crow Co. and Palace Sports and Entertainment, continues through its initial stages. "We're still in preliminary stages," says Trammell Crow's Robert Abberger. "We're moving through the entitlement process and negotiating with anchor tenants. The conceptual design is complete and we should start construction by the latter half of next year."
Trammell Crow's other projects in the Channelside district include a $500,000, 34-slip marina at the Tampa Waterside Marriott hotel and Port Ybor, a 600,000-square-foot mixed-use office and industrial project on 40 acres east of the Florida Aquarium. The first phase will include 300,000 square feet of warehouse space, 200,000 square feet of distribution facilities and 100,000 square feet of office space. "The site has both dock and rail service," Abberger says. "It will be a separately owned, institutionally financed business park that will facilitate through-put to the port."
Other ideas in the works could have a substantial impact on downtown, too, although some of them are more dreams than reality at the moment.
The Florida 2012 bid to bring the Summer Olympics to the Tampa Bay area could lead to the development of the Olympic stadium and village in Tampa. "This would require construction of a 100,000-seat stadium and housing for 16,000 people in Olympic Village," says Ed Turanchik at Florida 2012. "Our game plan is emerging. We're just steaming along putting the bid together. We'll get the decision October 2002."
Other venues planned for the event that will require new construction include a 20,000-seat, five-pool aquatic center at Julian Lake Park along the Hillsborough River and a 20,000-seat velodrome at the Florida State Fairgrounds for indoor cycling events. Announcement of the location of the new stadium and village – if they are ever constructed – will come later in the year.
Changes in Ybor City
Whether there are Olympic visitors in Tampa in 2012 is an open question, but if there are, they may find entertainment in Ybor City, visiting Steiner + Associates' 210,000-square-foot Centro Ybor development, with its 20-screen Muvico theater, restaurants and retail shops. "We will open October 5th and have less than 10 percent of space vacant," says Jay Miller at Steiner + Associates. "We're expecting three million visitors a year. We're enthusiastic that together with the growth of the convention center and cruise business we can make Ybor City the third leg of the visit for out-of-towners."
Ybor Square, the 95,000-square-foot former cigar factory and warehouse that never really flourished as a retail center, has been purchased by Orlando-based ZOM Development and is being converted to office space. And although a fire destroyed the $32.8-million, 450-unit Park at Ybor City multifamily residential development earlier in the year, Camden Property Trust is rebuilding most of the project.
New multifamily residential construction seems endless in Brandon, with 5,000 units in the process of being built or permitted. "This is one of the fastest-growing residential markets on the West Coast of Florida," says Joe Taggart of Crescent Resources. "Our apartment division has started a 480-unit apartment project in Crosstown Center."
The new housing is an adjunct to new employment opportunities that large corporations are bringing to the I-75 corridor. Along with the nearly 1,500 jobs that Chase Treasury Solutions is bringing to Highland Oaks, Uniroyal Technology Corp. continues to add positions and Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Credit Co. has recently opened a 600-employee customer service center. Household Finance Corp. has moved its offices from Harbour Island to Brandon and Premier Beverage and Canaaris Corp. have recently expanded.
Little Rock, Ark.-based Alltel Communications recently purchased the GTE Wireless system and retail stores and has set up a significant base of operations along the I-75 corridor. In fact, two of them. Its 25,000-square-foot regional headquarters with 100 employees is located in the Hidden River corporate park and a 450-employee call center occupies 67,000 square feet in netpark@tampabay. "We've added 50 positions there since we opened in July," says Dan Thompson, the firm's president of the Southeast region.
As part of setting up this regional headquarters, Thompson has relocated 50 families from all parts of the United States. "The majority wanted to live on the northeast side of town," he says. "It has better housing that's a bit less expensive and more choices. We found a lot of high-tech companies and growth moving to the northeast of Tampa."
The firm will be adding another 150 employees, Thompson says, to staff 53 new kiosks opening in Wal-Mart stores and 12 new retail stores throughout the area. In the transaction with GTE (now Verizon, of course), Alltel did not acquire the new GTE Wireless building in West Tampa and the GTE Phone Mart stores.
And just to keep the competition on its toes San Antonio, Tex.-based SBC Communications Inc. has occupied the building formerly used by Salomon Smith Barney at Hidden River corporate park. The telephone company plans to hire 500 people this year and 300 next year for its customer service center.
Nearby, Intermedia Communications Inc., one of Tampa's stalwart telecommunications firms, is about to disappear into WorldCom Inc. if all the details of the proposed $2.9-billion buyout are finalized. On the heels of the September announcement there was no definitive conclusion as to what will happen to Intermedia's brand new 800,000-square-foot corporate headquarters developed by Highwoods Properties Inc. It was certain that some of Intermedia's 1,900 Hillsborough County employees will lose their jobs, however.
Another corporate newcomer to northeast Tampa is the Institute for Business & Home Safety, which has relocated its 20-employee headquarters from Boston in temporary quarters while awaiting completion of a new building at the Museum of Science & Industry, near the University of South Florida.
Farther east, the International Softball Federation has occupied its new headquarters at Plant City Stadium, and James Hardie Manufacturing is doubling the size of its facility. "We've had three apartment complexes come in, bringing a total of 568 units," says Phil Waldron, Plant City manager. "And we recently occupied our new 40,000-square-foot, $7-million city hall building. It's a gorgeous three-story, red-brick building."
The 190,000-square-foot spec warehouse at Plant City Commerce Center at U.S. Hwy. 92 and County Line Road filled up in six months. "We're platting land for another entrance and 100 acres to develop," says Bill Loftin at Loftin Real Estate, developer of the project. "It's an attractive location because we can get permits in a hurry and because of its proximity to I-4."
"This location is well suited to meet the logistics and distribution requirements to the Central Florida market place," says Ed Miller at Colliers Arnold Commercial Real Estate Services. "The developing of new trade areas along the I-4 corridor is having an impact on Plant City."
There is also a new development at Walden Woods, Miller says. "We're marketing a 42-acre site for up to 530 units of multifamily. That's a good value for investors. The community will support that kind of residential use."
Growth in the west
Many of the residents in West Hillsborough are the source of occupants in the smaller offices at Tri-County Business Park. "We have a lot of users taking 1,000 to 2,500 square feet," says Roger Pavlik at Adler Management. "A lot of these are expansions from home to their first business location. This is precipitated by the amount of housing around here. There are a lot of entrepreneurs and business professionals who have decided to go out on their own. There's also a lot of high tech and high-tech fabricating."
Although Pavlik hasn't seen any impact on occupancy due to the opening of the 1.1-million-square-foot Citrus Park Town Center shopping mall last year, the management at Urban Retail Property Co., its developer, is pleased with statistics. "Traffic is doing very well," says Jeff Berger, general manager. "Our first year we had over ten million people come to the property. Our occupancy rate is 99.5 percent. Sales are meeting our expectations and in most cases exceeding what we thought they would do."
With such excellent results at the mall, Baystar Hotel Group has started construction on a new 86-room Hampton Inn hotel at Waters Avenue and the Veterans Expressway. "This is the first hotel in the Citrus Park business complex," says Craig Rainey, the firm's vice president of operations. "Citrus Park Town Center has spurred growth. Capital One keeps growing and Aetna Healthcare just completed their new building. This is developing into a hot area and it's time for a hotel."
No matter where business is developing throughout Tampa, "it's a great place for people to work, live, play and entertain themselves," Beard says.Here)