Big burst of building begins in Downtown Tampa

Tampa, Florida -- The next big burst of growth in Downtown Tampa begins Tuesday. The first of four towering new projects is breaking ground in the morning.

It's the end of a big development drought in the area that has lasted nearly five years.

Before the recession hit, Downtown Tampa was one of the fastest-growing places in the entire Tampa Bay area. And it's about to get going again.

Shovels will hit the dirt at 10:30 Tuesday morning near 12th St. and Whiting St., just a few blocks north of the Channelside Bay Plaza shopping area, to start building SkyHouse Channelside.

It's a 23-story tower with 320 apartments. If you look at these pictures from a similar SkyHouse in Orlando, you'll see they're going after the young professional types.

Tampa's SkyHouse should open by the end of next year, along with at least two other big apartment and condo buildings.

One of those will be in Channelside, called the Martin on Meridian. Another is by the Straz Center -- the Residences at the Riverwalk. There's another project near the Straz that's just getting started, as well.

Here's why this is a big deal: Growth like this pretty much slammed on the brakes when the recession hit.

Element was the last huge project to open, and that was in 2009.

Now, with a new burst of growth here, it shows Tampa Bay's construction business continues to recover, the housing market is getting better, and Tampa can keep pace with other cities known as destinations for young, smart types like Atlanta, Raleigh, and Austin.

And get ready for more.

The Tampa Port Authority is still looking to find a new owner for the large Channelside Bay Plaza shopping area, with the goal of revitalizing it.

And Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik continues to buy up land around the Tampa Bay Times Forum.One source says he now owns around 20 acres in the district, and he hasn't announced his plans yet for developing that land.


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