South Tampa’s newest waterfront neighborhood is getting busier.
The new development has transformed the struggling lot south of the Gandy Bridge into an upscale community. Other businesses and events will open this summer. Construction of the first of Marina Pointe’s three condominium towers and a private marina is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Units are sold out and sales of the 150 condos in the second tower will begin on Wednesday.
The Westshore Marina District in total is expected to be completed by 2025, said Dominic Pickering, executive director of Florida’s west coast for BTI Partners, the Fort Lauderdale company developing the property.
In this conversation, Pickering discusses what’s coming to the region this year and how the Westshore Marina District is shaping up so far. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s happening at the Westshore Marina District this summer?
The Westshore Marina District is basically about 50 acres with marina landings and a retail area. We have 12 different retailers there. Some have already opened like Cru Cellars. But this summer we will be opening Chuck Lager’s, Buzzed Bull Creamery, DRNK coffee + tea and the QWENCH juice bar. Rocket Cycle is also coming this summer. So in the next 30 to 90 days, we will end up with four or five new openings.
We also organize the Summer Night Exchange. It’s our fresh market on the first Wednesday of each month. About 500-700 people came with about 50 booths of people selling all sorts of different items. There was live music and food trucks. These events have proven to be very popular.
In what ways are you trying to activate the area and let surrounding neighborhoods know what’s going on?
We organize various events. So to give you an example, Rocket Cycle will host yoga on the waterfront. It’s the kind of idea retailers are doing that really supports the area. The Summer Night Exchanges are without a doubt the biggest and best outreach we have had.
We also have Marina Pointes, the three luxury condo buildings. The first tower will also close in a few months. There’s a lot to come, so a lot of awareness and interest from all the surrounding areas, like the Westshore Yacht Club. Almost all of South Tampa is beginning to recognize the Westshore Marina District as a place that comes alive.
Who moves into condominiums?
Really a bit of everything. So we have people in the area who want to downsize and live the condo lifestyle. We have people who are from out of state but want to move to Florida and they have identified Tampa as the place to live in Florida right now. We have the waterfront, the good weather and the beaches. But we also have people from different age groups. Some people are in their thirties and mid-career. Some people may be in their 60s or 60s and nearing the end of their careers. We have people who love water because they love boating, but we also have people who love water because they love looking at it. It comes from everywhere. Very eclectic.
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What is the status of the marina and what do you think it will do for the area when completed?
Dredging is now complete. In fact, the docks are all built and they are there. The construction is working on the finishes. It will open to coincide with the first tower at Marina Pointe which will take place around September and October.
It is therefore very rare to be able to buy a brand new luxury condo with a private marina attached. This has been a big attraction for people looking to buy. But also just having a marina around the Westshore Marina District where you can literally walk up and down the boardwalk and watch the boats. This changed the atmosphere and the dynamics of the region, with the arrival of very, very beautiful boats.
How much available space is left for businesses?
We have 12 different points of sale and 11 are for rent. We have one left. So the last one is around 1,200 square feet and we’re talking to a few companies right now. So we anticipate that the final space will be rented in the next 30-60 days, and then we will be fully rented.
Are there plans to build more retail outlets?
We most likely will, probably a little further over the Gandy Bridge where our Marina Pointe condo sales gallery is currently located. At the moment we do not have any condos in which we can accommodate people, as they will not be finished before the end of the year. Once we complete the first tower we will be able to get people into real units and at that point we may well ditch the gallery and convert that space into retail outlets.
What kind of businesses are you trying to bring to the area?
We’ve been very clear from the start that we want them to add something to the area and to the experience of the people who live here.
So we wanted to make sure that whatever we bring will be something you visit maybe, maybe not daily, but definitely once a week or every two weeks or so. We have been quite selective about who we bring. And there’s no reason why when we open other retail spaces that mentality won’t stay the same.
How did the development meet your expectations?
We’ve put together a lot of marketing material and most people who come to us say it looks better in real life than it looks on the renders. When you actually see the streets full and know that people appreciate the outlets, it really gives you a great feeling. It looks much more dynamic than I personally expected. It goes together extremely well.