At the StimULI breakfast on August 4th, attendees heard from experts on signature redevelopment and reuse projects in Tampa that are catalyzing positive change. Abbey Dohring of The Dohring Group, who moderated the program, spoke of the importance of these projects for breathing new life into Tampa’s urban neighborhoods, while also celebrating the past.
Project champions shared the bold, daring and inspiring stories of their projects.
David Scher, spoke of the redevelopment of the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory building into the Bryan Glazer Jewish Community Center, an effort he is co-chairing. The Center, slated to open in early December 2016, is a $35 million project that will transform a place rich in history into a community destination. “Many people thought we were out of our minds”, said David. But, he and his team looked past the challenges of this 1940s era building and saw the opportunities, noting that with the exception of the roof, there was actually nothing wrong with the bones of the building. The center will include gymnasium, fitness center indoor running track, kitchen, event hall, classrooms and aqua center with an eight-lane pool.
The transformation of an old theater into the Ybor City offices of Ashley Furniture Global Retail Office was presented by Eric Grzybowski of The Perry Company. Over an ambitious 10 month construction period, 10 of an existing 20 auditorium theatres (a total of 72,000 square feet) were re-purposed into a space with six different floor elevations. 35 new windows were added to the exterior facades. While Eric spoke of the challenges of construction in an occupied building within an historic district – he also noted the project’s importance to the neighborhood. The new use is bringing over 200 jobs to the area and has served to prompt further revitalization projects in Ybor City, including 400 new residential units.
In sharing his vision and plans for the redevelopment of Armature Works, Chas Bruck calls himself and his team “students of the world”. The Principal of Soho Capital, who is leading the redevelopment of the 68,000-square-foot Armature Works building, described the plans for a first of its kind destination slated to activate the river and draw visitors all days of the week. Plans include an in-house market, co-work space, two restaurants and event hall space. Chas noted that a critical part of the project is to maintain the historic flavor of the structure. The original brick will remain, as will some of the original fixtures inside, including an overhead crane. Original doors, windows and skylights were restored. The building will open in 2017.