TAMPA - Bob Abberger
has the cure to fight the exodus of companies from downtown Tampa to glitzier buildings in the West Shore district and the suburbs: a 20-story, 450,000-square-foot office tower and 300,000-square-foot hotel erected in the shadows of the Channelside District.
Abberger, managing director of real estate firm Trammell Crow Co., filed zoning papers Thursday for the $350 million project that could encompass four city blocks north of the Crosstown Expressway.
The project includes the main office tower, a separate tower to house a 350-room upscale hotel and a parking garage with 1,200 spaces.
predicted the project will help the struggling Tampa economy.
"It's going to be a huge generator," he
"It can be a game changer for downtown."
acknowledged that the downtown office vacancy rate hovers at about 20 percent.
said if you strip away the lesser quality buildings, the vacancy rate is in the single digits.
The office tower would also attract tenants because it will be the first new one built around downtown in more than 15 years, he
"You have the best, then you have the rest," Abberger
"I know what it means to set a new standard."
has not secured financing for the project.
expects backers to come on board after tenants agree to leases.
Talks are under way with high-end hotels to anchor the project, which could break ground late next year, Abberger
Construction on all buildings could be completed in 2014.
Businesses that have left downtown want their employees all on one floor, not scattered across several, Abberger
plans to seek a LEED certification for energy efficiency in the tower.
The building's proximity to the Channelside entertainment district, Abberger
said, will provide something that other downtown towers can't: less congestion and less traffic.
The project is similar to the Prime Meridian Center
, a 20-story building, which Abberger
wanted to build in 2007 across from the St. Pete Times Forum before the real estate market soured the following year.
pointed to his
spearheading the Marriott Waterside
, the luxury hotel his
company completed in 2000 despite a chorus of doubters.
The 700-room hotel, the city's largest, made a lot of money for his
Abberger once chaired the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's Committee of 100, the chamber's business recruitment arm.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn recently appointed Abberger to the city's Economic Competitiveness Committee, a group tasked with streamlining city development rules.
is optimistic about Tampa's economy and future.
"Now is the time to stop looking down and start looking up," he