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Lightning owner Vinik sells stake in $2B Water Street development

The billionaire and NHL owner sold out to his partner in the $2 billion development as he looks to slow down.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 3:45 p.m. June 29, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Jeff Vinik and Cathie Wood of ARK Investment Management spoke at an Urban Land Institute event in Tampa March 2022.
Jeff Vinik and Cathie Wood of ARK Investment Management spoke at an Urban Land Institute event in Tampa March 2022.
Courtesy photo
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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Jeff Vinik, the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the mastermind behind the Water Street Tampa development, has sold his share of Strategic Property Partners, the real estate company behind the $2 billion project.

Vinik’s share of the company was sold to the Bill Gates-run fund Cascade Investment, which has been his partner on Water Street. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed and Vinik will remain an adviser. The sale was announced Thursday in a press release.

“As I have reached my mid-sixties, I have been actively focused on simplifying my life,” the 64-year-old Vinik says in the release. “Having recently become a grandfather for the first time, I am very focused on prioritizing family, going to Tampa Bay Lightning hockey games and being a part of our community.”

His role with the hockey team is not affected by the sale.

Vinik made his fortune in hedge funds, first managing the Fidelity Magellan Fund before launched his own, Vinik Asset Management. In 2010, he bought the Lightning and moved to Tampa with his wife, Penny, in 2012 from Boston.

One would be hard pressed to find a person with more impact on the city of Tampa in the years since than Vinik.

Here, he saw something in the area around Amalie Arena that had seemingly been lost on others. Opportunity.

At the time, the nearly 60 acres around the arena were mostly parking lots that saw little use after downtown cleared out and the sun set.

Today, that 56-acre area south of downtown is a city within a city, a community that to newcomers is just part of the scenery while remaining mind-boggling to anyone who remembers Tampa in the 1980s and 1990s — and before.

According to the press release, the $2 billion phase one of Water Street includes 5 million square feet of mixed-use real estate, including 12 buildings with 1,418 hotel room and 1,335 residential units. Along with that, there are more than 500,000 square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of retail space, the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute, a districtwide cooling plant and 7 acres of new and improved streetscapes and public space.

When complete, it is expected to be 9 million square feet and cost another $2 billion in private investment.

Beyond numbers, walking around Water Street is like walking around the major big cities that Tampa, before Vinik showed up, wanted to be when it grew up. There are restaurants, and shops and nightlife. And people. A lot of people. It’s become the kind of place where Lenny Kravitz shows up to play a few songs at the grand opening for a new hotel.

“I am very proud of what Cascade and I have built over the past 13 years,” Vinik says. “We had a vision that was shared and embraced by this community. It has been humbling to see it take shape especially with so much excitement still ahead.”



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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