Tampa Port authority hotel & condo
A proposed $400 million development at Tampa's port that would include the city's first five-star hotel appears to be coming closer to becoming a reality.
The Tampa Port Authority on Tuesday agreed to modify a development and lease agreement that will give the developer until March 30 to secure financing for the proposed 45- story hotel, condominium and conference center. A previous agreement expired Dec. 31, according to port records.
Murray Klauber, founder of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort at Longboat Key, proposed the project four years ago, but financing proved elusive, according to port records. Klauber, who attended the port meeting, did not speak at the meeting and declined comment.
Steve Mitchell, Klauber's Tampa-based lawyer, said Klauber is close to securing financing from lenders for the project.
The project, called Tampa Global Communication Teleconvergence Center, is touted by local tourism and technology leaders as a huge step in the city's effort to recruit lucrative high-tech and medical firms to the area.
They say the project will be the kind of amenity that high-tech and medical companies demand when they consider relocating to an area.
However, some port tenants said Tuesday that they are concerned that port officials have either misled or ignored existing businesses on the land and allowed their zeal for the development to squash a more critical look at the project.
Tad Humphreys, president of International Ship Repair and Marine Services Inc. said he only learned recently that the port won't renew his lease to make room for the project.
Port Commissioner Ronda Storms said she is concerned port officials never did a cost- benefit analysis. She also criticized interim port director Zelko Kirincich for angering tenants, such as Humphreys, who could be displaced by the new development.
``The way you do business is deadly to the port community,'' she said before casting the lone vote against the lease changes. ``Integrity matters. Clean hands matter. You will kill business in the port if you continue to do business in the way you have done business.''
Kirincich responded that officials from with International Ship Repair have known for years that their land was slated for development, and that port officials continue to work with the company to relocate the company's operations.
The port expects to make at least $2.2 million a year in revenue from the development, which would lease the land for 40 years.
The proposed 450-room hotel and tower will be topped with about 130 luxury condos, and include a spa and restaurants. The developer said they have signed an agreement with a five-star hotel, but declined to name the company.
The conference center will include the latest technology for teleconferencing and interactive participation by attendees. Construction on the 4.6- acre hotel/condo tower and conference center must begin by March of 2006, under the deal. Construction on phase two, a commercial tower, must begin a year later.
Steve Hayes, executive vice president of the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the development will be a crucial addition to the area and boost the city's convention and tourism business.
Others worried the development signals a fundamental change at Florida's largest port, away from supporting maritime business and into commercial real estate development.
``Some believe the Port Authority has lost its way,'' said Gene Masters, president of the Propeller Club of the United States, a group that promotes the maritime industry. ``They are taking high paying jobs and replacing them with low paying service jobs.''
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