Tampa port authority project

Five-star future is lined up for port property

Plenty of people rolled their eyes three years ago when Murray Klauber announced plans for a multimillion-dollar conference center near shipyards and fuel depots at Tampa's port.

Now, the 77-year-old founder of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort at Longboat Key says he has lined up a five-star hotel operator and a lender for the $400-million project on land in the Channel District owned by the Tampa Port Authority.

His corporation, Tampa International Technology Center, must have a financing commitment by March and begin construction one year after that under a development agreement scheduled to go before port commissioners Oct. 19.

The project likely will get going much sooner now that a leading hotel operator is on board, said Tampa attorney Stephen Mitchell, who represents the developers.

"It is on the threshold," he said. "The key is when you have the (hotel) flag. The lenders want to know who that is. The investors want to know." Developers soon will identify the hotel brand and the financial syndicate,


Klauber has experience with the high-end hospitality business. Known to nearly everyone as "Murf," Klauber shares responsibility with his daughter for the operation of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, where beachfront houses and penthouse suites range from $925 to $1,425 a night in the spring.

Plans for the Tampa project are as big as its name: the Tampa Global Communication Teleconvergence Center.

The 45-story tower would be almost as tall as Tampa's biggest skyscrapers, the Bank of America Plaza and 100 N. Tampa. It would contain the only hotel to rate a five-star ranking in the Tampa Bay area and be among only a handful in Florida. Plans call for 135 condominiums on the top floor, priced from about $500,000 to $2-million, and 450 hotel rooms and suites.

Adjacent to the tower will be a conference center, with three amphitheaters, a 22,000-square-foot exhibition floor, and board and meeting rooms. All will be linked to global satellite and fiber-optic cable and wireless systems, developers say.

They expect to attract big corporations that want to hold executive conferences or training sessions that can be beamed instantly around the globe or recorded. "Every three or four days, new visitors will come down, filling up Channelside, filling up the trolley, filling up the cruise ships,"

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who met with developers and hotel representatives a month ago, said she was excited about the chance to bring a five-star hotel to the city. "These are the kinds of opportunities you only see in the most sophisticated city business environments,"

 

 

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