The Tampa Tribune, September 29, 2015
By Jerome R. Stockfisch
TAMPA — Jeff Vinik’s redevelopment of 40 acres around Amalie Arena will become the world’s first health- and wellness-focused city district, dedicated to the well-being of employees, students, residents, tenants and guests expected to live and work in the area.
The announcement that the Vinik project would be a WELL Certified district came at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, where the Tampa Bay Lightning owner, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, developer Paul Scialla of the New York healthy-building designer Delos, and Robbie Fritz of Vinik’s financial partner Cascade Investment addressed the gathering of global leaders and thinkers.
“More than half of all people in the world now live in cities, and we spend 90 percent of our time indoors,” said Delos founder Scialla. “The built environment — our cities — are human habitat, and we have the knowledge to design them to sustain our health, not to harm it.”
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The “well” moniker goes far beyond ordering cigarette smokers to the sidewalk.
Although official site plans have not been released, the Vinik project will feature design and technology strategies including enhanced walkability, abundant green space including low-pollen trees, sound barriers to support acoustic comfort, access to healthy foods, green infrastructure, daily monitoring and reporting of district air quality, and access to the amenities of an urban waterfront.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Scialla said other components of a “well” building include posture supportive flooring; purified air and water; circadian lighting, which is indoor light that is much more conducive to balancing the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle; and surface coating that can address immune health in high-touch areas.
A release announcing the development cited research showing that people living in walkable, compact and connected neighborhodds enjoy better health, including lower rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. The wellness city district is intended to show that people can build communities that proactively eliminate risk factors for chronic disease.
“Together, we will demonstrate that city design — not just building design — can be healthy and sustainable, making Tampa a leader in the wellness industry and our downtown a destination,” said Buckhorn.
Vinik continues to reshape Tampa’s horizon
Vinik’s project is scheduled to break ground in 2016 with its first phase completed within five years. The former Wall Street asset manager announced last year that he would donate land to relocate the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine and its new heart institute at Channelside Drive and Meridian Avenue, and that he would build a related medical office tower and parking garage adjacent to the school.
The project will also include a new 400- to 500-room hotel, a 650,000 square foot office tower, and 200,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment venues.
When all three phases of the project are complete, the development will be roughly 6 million square feet with a total investment exceeding $2 billion from Strategic Property Partners, Vinik’s partnership with Cascade Investment, controlled by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Vinik said he foresees the district “setting a new standard for wellness and sustainability.”
SPP also owns the 719-room Marriott Waterside Hotel and the Channelside Bay Plaza retail mall.
Scialla made a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012 to create a health and wellness standard for buildings. He has since founded the International WELL Building Institute and launched the WELL Building Standard globally.
In the August 2014 New York Times interview, Scialla said “green building” certification such as that provided by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED focuses on environmental impact, basically considering the energy consumption and output of a building. LEED and WELL certification are complementary, he said.
The WELL standard is undergoing peer review and studies of increased productivity and return on investment.