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Lafayette Place in no hurry, developer says

  • By
  • | 11:00 a.m. November 4, 2016
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Tampa Bay–Lakeland
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For a project that could total 1.7 million square feet — roughly equivalent to the 42-story 100 North Tampa, SunTrust Financial Centre and the Tampa City Center skyscrapers combined — Hillsborough River Realty Co. doesn't appear to be in any rush to break ground.

In fact, Hillsborough River Senior Vice President John LaRocca says the company, an affiliate of Jeffries Travis Realty Corp., is anxious to see other, seemingly competing projects — namely Strategic Property Partners' $2 billion Channelside redevelopment; Feldman Equities and Tower Realty Partners' 52-story Riverwalk Tower; and Related Group's revamp of the Tampa Tribune site, to name a few — succeed.

“We're not pressured to make something happen immediately,” LaRocca says. “For those projects already in the pipeline in downtown Tampa and those that are close to getting permits, we want them to be successful, because that will mean our project stands a chance of being successful. Success will breed success.”

LaRocca adds that Hillsborough River Realty owns its more than 6-acre tract, which is bordered by Kennedy Boulevard and the Hillsborough River on one side and the LeRoy Selmon Expressway on another, free of debt. The Tampa-based company's principals began assembling the tract just south of the University of Tampa nearly three decades ago. Required infrastructure is already in place.

The company's new three-building plan for Lafayette Place calls for a mix of office, retail and residential space, along with 350 hotel rooms and nearly 4,000 structured parking spaces. In keeping with its patient intentions, there is no development timetable.

At this stage, LaRocca says Hillsborough River Realty is hoping to rezone the property to allow a mixed-use development, which would supplant a proposal for an office high-rise proposed more than a decade ago.

He says the company hasn't priced out the project yet, but it could easily top $400 million, based on industry development standards.

“We think we're proposing the right uses for the property and for the city,” LaRocca says.

The company hopes to complete its rezoning by March of next year, and would likely phase any development.

The largest of its three proposed buildings, Lafayette Tower, would rise 40 stories and contain a hotel and nearly 700,000 square feet of office space. The 25-story Lafayette Parkview adjacent to it is being designed for 140 residential units, 2,000 parking spaces and 35,000 square feet of retail.

A little more than a block away, Lafayette Central is slated to contain 235 rental units, 24,000 square feet of retail space and more than 1,800 parking spaces in a 25-story tower.

LaRocca acknowledges that pre-leasing the office space to obtain financing would be “the challenge,” but that critical mass generated by other projects could bring with it a corporate relocation that would need a large block of contiguous space and desire a river view.

“The economy in the entire Tampa Bay area is improving, and Tampa's focus is on making the Hillsborough River the center of downtown,” he says. “And with that, we believe we now have a mix of uses that are a more realistic response to the trends being experienced in urban centers.”


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