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Renaissance rebirth

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  • | 11:00 a.m. February 26, 2016
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  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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Vision Properties has a plan — a vision, even — for its first commercial real estate acquisition in the Tampa area, and it involves a lot more than just collecting rent checks in one of the region's top suburban office parks.

In the wake of its $108 million purchase earlier this month of Renaissance Center — the largest suburban office sale in the Tampa market in the past year — Mountain Lakes, N.J.-based Vision hopes to leverage a raft of amenities and the park's upscale location to land new tenants.

Vision is planning to add a new 111,600-square-foot building to Renaissance, the latest proposal in a growing number of developers hoping to capitalize on Tampa's shrinking vacancy rates and growing employment base.

“The Tampa office market has continued to outperform many others around the country,” says Anthony Arena, Vision's chief investment officer.

He adds that the Tampa office market, which has added more than 109,000 jobs since emerging from recession in 2011, has benefitted from a “talented labor pool, large tax incentive packages and a low cost of business.”

If current plans hold and Vision can land tenants to lease at least 50% of the new space, the company will break ground on the four-acre site for its new building just north of the Tampa International Airport within the next year, says Anthony Scandariato, a Vision official.

The new building would add about 20% more space to Renaissance, a complex with 532,371 square feet in Tampa's Westshore submarket.

Vision has retained commercial brokerage and services firm CBRE Inc. to manage the 71-acre Renaissance office park going forward. Renaissance is currently fully leased to WellCare Health Plans Inc. and Capital One Financial.

But Vision's plans for a new building will face still competition from roughly a dozen developers who have pitched proposals for new offices in downtown Tampa, Westshore and St. Petersburg.

In downtown Tampa, Feldman Equities and Tower Realty Partners have unveiled plans for a 52-story, mixed-use building with more than 200,000 square feet of Class A office space, and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's Strategic Property Partners is working on landing an anchor tenant for a 500,000-square-foot skyscraper as part of a $2 billion upgrade to the Channelside district.

And last month, Tier REIT began marketing a building with as much as 120,000 square feet in Westshore adjacent to the Bristol-Myers Squibb's North America Capability Center.
Still, Vision believes Renaissance Center's amenity package will outshine the competition.

The five-building center, built by Capital One beginning in 1997 to house its call center operations, contains a full-service cafeteria; a two-story fitness center; walking trails; basketball, racquetball and beach volleyball courts; a baseball diamond; and lighted tennis courts.

The complex at 8705-8745 Henderson Road also contains a pair of 1,900-space parking garages.

“It's one of the nicest corporate campuses in the state of Florida,” says Rick Brugge, a Cushman & Wakefield senior director in Tampa who together with Capital Markets' Executive Director Mike Davis and Senior Director Michael Lerner represented seller Liberty Property Trust in the Renaissance Center sale. “It's second to none, with a package of amenities that most developers would not be able to afford.”

Capital One shuttered its call center, which employed more than 1,000 workers at its peak, in 2004, and the following year sold the nearly empty facility to America's Capital Partners, a Miami developer, for $69 million.

In October 2006, America's Capital Partners, in turn, sold Renaissance Center to Liberty for $104 million, property records show, after leasing up much of the available office space.

Liberty officials did not return telephone calls or emails for comment. The Malvern, Penn.-based real estate investment trust with $8 billion in commercial real estate holdings, which has been under Wall Street pressure to focus its portfolio on industrial assets, owns more than a dozen properties in the Tampa Bay region.

Brugge notes, too, that Vision's timing comes as the Westshore office market has thrown off the effects of last decade's economic recession.

“The market there has been fairly strong, especially for Class A assets,” he says. “And with recent office absorption, there are really no large blocks of space available.”


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