TAMPA — A new downtown hotel contemplated by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik could marry 400 hotel rooms with 50 high-rise condo units, a city of Tampa document shows.
Such hotel/condo hybrids were popular around the country until last decade’s real estate bust, particularly among luxury hotel developers, said Chuck Ross, a hotel consultant not affiliated with Vinik’s project. Just recently, the concept seems to be making a comeback, he said.
Vinik has been buying up land surrounding the Forum in Tampa’s Channel District for two years. He and his partners now own 21 acres stretching from Florida Avenue in the west to Meridian Avenue in the east. He’s been tight-lipped about his plans, but it’s presumed he’ll build some kind of entertainment-related project.
A piece of those plans surfaced last month, when the Tribune reported that developer Trammell Crow Co. had drawn up a diagram with a hotel on three Vinik-owned acres at Florida Avenue and Old Water Street. The land is just north of the Marriott Waterside hotel and currently is used for parking.
A spokesman for Vinik wouldn’t comment and little additional information was available last month.
This week, the Tribune got an additional document from the city showing Vinik’s group proposes a 400-room hotel on the property. The document doesn’t mention a specific hotel brand, but that size would make it larger than the nearby Embassy Suites and Westin Tampa Harbour Island hotels, each of which have about 300 rooms.
It would be smaller, though, than the Marriott Waterside at 719 rooms.
Vinik’s hotel could be a player in small or midsize conferences with up to 100,000 square feet of meeting space, and it would have up to 45,000 square feet of commercial/retail space, the document shows.
Finally, 50 high-rise condo units would add an unusual mix to the building. Developers began building towers with both hotels and condo units about 15 years ago, hoping to lure condo buyers with a prestige brand such as Ritz-Carlton, said Ross, a Valrico-based consultant with PKF Consulting USA. Condo owners usually get access to the hotel’s restaurants, spas and other amenities, he said.
Now that the condo market seems to be waking up, Ross said he knows of at least three developers considering such hotel/condo hybrids in Central Florida.
“The reason they do that is they want to add value and raise the expectation of the condo units,” Ross said.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Tuesday said he doesn’t know if Vinik will move forward with a hotel, and a Vinik spokesman again declined comment Tuesday afternoon.
However, the mayor said, “I think it would be a huge success if that’s what they choose to do.”