Water Street Tampa’s Vision Goes Vertical

After more than two years and roughly $35 million in infrastructure efforts to lay the foundation for this transformational, urban redevelopment, Heron at Water Street Tampa became a reality in the spring of 2018. The project’s first 12 buildings went vertical, marking the beginning of an urban community connecting the City’s Central Business District with surrounding neighborhoods and waterfront.

As one of several civil consultants supporting this massive first phase, Bohler focused on the planning, design, and permitting of Heron, the dual residential tower at 815 Water Street – the project’s first residential building also offering ground-floor grocery and retail amenities. As the second vertical tower being built in the larger, highly complex, phased project, the team created opportunities to maintain forward momentum.

Securing Entitlements

After years of behind-the-scenes infrastructure work, the client, Strategic Property Partners (SPP), was eager to see their vision go vertical. Bohler leaned on its local expertise and regulatory relationships to help the team strategize a Design District Review approval, which allows for the varied building types and uses within the Central Business District of downtown Tampa.

With looming building code changes approaching fast, the team faced a hard deadline that, if missed, would cause significant redesign and project delays. In anticipation of the forthcoming changes, Bohler worked with SPP and the project architect to secure approvals in time to lock in the necessary assurances to keep the project on track.

Bridging City and Client

While the project team raced against the external approval clock, they faced internal changes and challenges. As a partnership between Tampa businessman Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment, SPP in its early stages introduced many moving parts and new faces to the project and Tampa. Bohler kept the project moving forward by leveraging its long-standing relationships with the City, as well as local industry partners, regulatory agencies, politicians, and other stakeholders to provide increased communication and collaboration between all parties. Additionally, our team facilitated ongoing education to ensure consistency as new professionals and partners joined the team.

Designing the Downtown Details

Building within a massive redevelopment between a bustling downtown and waterfront added another layer of complexity to developing Heron, the 21- and 26-story, dual-tower residential high-rise. Bohler looked beyond the immediate site to consider the construction’s impact on the surrounding Water Street Tampa project elements. The team focused on understanding and addressing critical site details such as easement vacations, utility main relocations, and off-site extensions inclusive of fire protection service line relocation for critical neighbors such as the Tampa History Center.

Other moving parts related to the location and activity around Water Street Tampa included:

  • Designing streetscape features directly adjacent to an active street car trolley system;
  • Redevelopment of the Tampa Riverwalk trail system, while maintaining accessibility during a two-year construction schedule;
  • Providing a private drive that balances parking garage access for retail consumers and residents, as well as truck loading zones for grocery and commercial uses;
  • Connectivity to a district-wide telecommunication system and cooling plant; and
  • Contractor coordination to provide a phased construction plan that enabled pedestrians to cross the site to access downtown hot spots and the Tampa Bay Lightning arena throughout construction.

Now completed, the luxury residential building brings 420 units to the overall Water Street Tampa redevelopment, which will eventually include nearly 1,000 other new downtown residential units; 1.1 million SF of office space; 300,000 SF retail; and the City’s first five-star hotel.

Heron is LEED Gold certified, and in 2021 received design awards from both CREW Tampa Bay and AIA Tampa Bay.

Bohler’s regional expertise and ability to work within a larger redevelopment enabled the team to identify potential risk and obstacles that could impact schedule and surrounding construction efforts. This guidance formed the basis for approval strategy and design solutions that enabled SPP to realize its long-time vision.

The goals were ambitious from the beginning, to see this project as a catalyst to redefine urban life in Tampa and also […] to stitch together what had been very disconnected portions of downtown.

– Brad Cooke, Vice President, Strategic Property Partners (Source: Fast Company)

2 High-Rise Towers
420 Units
35K SF Retail Space

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