Tampa Bay Business Journal, September 30, 2015
By Ashley Gurbal Kritzer
Building a wellness-focused district in downtown Tampa means more than healthy office workers and residents — it’s also a strategic economic development move.
Strategic Property Partners, the real estate company controlled by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC, announced Tuesday that its mixed-use district in downtown Tampa will be a WELL Certified neighborhood, filled with WELL Certified buildings. SPP is partnering with Delos, a New York-based company that created the concept of WELL Certification.
Similar to LEED Certification, buildings achieve WELL Certification based on the following criteria: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
Vinik, who is working to lure a corporate headquarters to anchor the district, said Tuesday that the wellness focus is a “major selling point” for potential tenants.
“Not only among millennials, but all age groups these days, health and wellness is a major item that people are focusing on and care about,” Vinik said. “Some of the companies we’ve talked to are already aware of Delos and some of them aren’t, but in every single case it has if nothing else piqued their interest.”
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who joined Vinik and Cascade in New York on Tuesday for recognition from the Clinton Global Initiative, said the wellness focus makes both Tampa and the Bay region “far more competitive as a marketplace.”
“Not only are we doing right by the environment, by the people that will live there, but we’re also positioning downtown Tampa to be far more competitive than it has ever been,” Buckhorn said, “and it helps us brand our community as forward thinking.”
The wellness initiative fits in with other downtown revitalization efforts, Buckhorn said, including activating city parks, the expansion of the Tampa Riverwalk and Coast Bike Share.
“It’s a different city than it was four years ago, and it’s partially because people are more active,” he said.
Beyond physical activity, another of the benchmarks for a WELL Certified district is access to healthy food. While SPP has said that it is considering a grocery store for the district, Vinik said the healthy food criterion “was not a reference to any particular grocer concept.”
Instead, he said, it was a reference to having healthy options easily accessible throughout the district — fresh fruits and vegetables, some sourced from communal gardens.
The district has grown significantly since SPP first unveiled its preliminary vision plan in December 2014. Originally pegged as a $1 billion project, it’s now estimated at $2 billion, with the first billion-dollar phase to include 1,000 residential units, 200,000 square feet of retail space and more.