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bobliocatt

proposed 55 story tower to include luxury hotel

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Luxury Rooms, Humble Settings

By SHANNON BEHNKEN

[email protected]

TAMPA - The most luxurious hotel to come to Tampa may open on waterfront property - at the port.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, a leading high-end hotel company based in Toronto, said Wednesday it had signed a letter of intent to manage the hotel portion of the proposed $450 million Tampa International Technology Center. The complex calls for a high-tech conference center, hotel and condominium tower on the northern end of the Channel District.

The developer proposes a 55- story tower with 400 hotel units and 180 condominiums. Hotel rooms would cost about $250 a night, and the condos would sell at $650 a square foot. An average unit of 2,000 square feet would cost $1.3 million.

So, with such a plush development, who will be willing to pay top dollar to overlook shipyards and the Crosstown Expressway?

The hotel company and the firm financing the project think they know. Both point to other upscale development plans in the area as the main reason the project will succeed.

But for both, it took some convincing. Redwood Capital Advisers said developers had to persuade them the project was viable, said Stephen Goodman, managing director of the merchant banking firm.

Goodman said, though, that the firm now believes, largely because of other residential and commercial developments planned in and around downtown. It lured Fairmont, Goodman said, because it has experience with business conventions and technology.

``I do a lot of traveling, and I don't spend much time looking out the window,'' Goodman said. ``Some of the units are high enough up to offer a great view of the skyline.''

Goodman said he expected most condo units to sell to empty nesters and business people from South America looking for a second home or vacation place.

``It's my opinion that many of the owners will stay here for a month or so each year,'' he added.

The hotel, he said, will draw guests from business meetings at the conference center and from wealthy cruise ship passengers.

The project's lead developer is Murf Klauber, 78, the founder of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort at Longboat Key. Klauber first approached the port with the project in 2000 and said he courted Fairmont for two years.

Anne White, spokeswoman for Fairmont, said the company bought into the plans because of downtown Tampa's potential.

``It's about looking for the right fit with the brand, more than just the location,'' White said.

Although Fairmont has resorts in places such as London and Cancun, White said it doesn't always choose prestigious sites. Fairmont has 45 hotels in eight countries, including one property in Florida, The Fairmont Turnberry Isle in Aventura.

The Port Authority gave the project preliminary approval last fall and must approve this agreement.

At Tampa's port, not everyone is happy.

Aaron Hendry, president of Gulf Marine Repair, which has leased port land for 40 years, says the port is too concerned with making money on development.

``I think there's a number of insecure port tenants observing what is happening at the port,'' Hendry said. ``The top priority of the port authority should be to nurture and grow the maritime industry and the port.''

Gulf Marine has negotiated with the port for more than a year about its lease, which expires early next year. The port is working with commercial property developer Trammell Crow Co. to allow the company to relocate.

Mark Huey, the city's economic development administrator, said the city recognized the concern but that there's plenty of room at the port for residential and commercial development, in addition to traditional maritime uses.

Reporter Shannon Behnken can be reached at (813) 259-7804.

This story can be found at: http://www.tampatrib.com/Business/MGB55AYAY6E.html

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Everything I have previously read about this project has it at 45 stories instead of 55. Did the Trib get it wrong or has there been a change?

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It may have.  Up to this point, everything that I read had it listed at 45 stories as well.

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I believe 45 stories is correct, however I can't see this being built any time soon. Until some of the planned condos and retail areas are completed, that structure would be out there by itself in a very indutrial part of downtown. It would really seem out of place.

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probably 45 stories and roughtly 550ft. that jibes with what a few of us have heard about this project going back for over two years now. When it was first proposed, it was reported as 550ft.

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I believe 45 stories is correct, however I can't see this being built any time soon. Until some of the planned condos and retail areas are completed,  that structure  would be out there by itself in a very indutrial part of downtown. It would really seem out of place.

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I agree with you 100%. However, the fact that Fairmont Hotels has placed it's name on this project indicates that this thing could be for real.

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I agree with you 100%. However, the fact that Fairmont Hotels has placed it's name on this project indicates that this thing could be for real.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It doesn't mean that because it is a "FAIRMONT" named project that it will work or be successful. I agree with a previous poster that they need to wait on this project until the other projects in the area are finished.

FLORIDA SKYRISE ORDER

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"Both point to other upscale development plans in the area as the main reason the project will succeed. "

This is a new economic theory, as far as I know. "The existence of other similar items implies a need for additional similar items." In other words, it's impossible to saturate a market. Don't we all wish.

If it came down to it, I'd much rather see the Floridan redevelopment than this one. I can't imagine both would actually be successful in the mid-term, which is when it really matters. I just don't agree with the developers here that the fact that other luxo hotel developments are slated for downtown means downtown needs more luxo hotel developments.

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^ I don't know that I agree with this either.

I advanced the theory elsewhere that there is something apocalyptic in the American psyche that causes us to wring our hands and wonder when the other shoe's going to drop.

It goes beyond economics.

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Perhaps I do have an "apocalyptic" psyche. I do write dystopian fiction after all.

Nonetheless my psyche has little impact on the very real fact that it IS in fact possible to oversaturate a market. The other shoe often does drop, there is a thing called a business cycle, and there are not an infinite supply of luxury hotel room buyers in the Tampa market. This is economics.

Now, you may very well be right that the market can and should absorb an additional 400 luxury hotel rooms. I for one don't think that's the case, but as I said I do write dystopian fiction and have a rather dark view of the world. Nonetheless, my viewpoint doesn't really have any impact on the fact that the developers' argument that because there is one luxury hotel on the docket there must be a need for another is absurd.

At least, in my opinion. But I might be an idiot.

Actually, somebody probably ought to look up the vacancy rates in the two existing downtown hotels. I suppose I could, but... oh I'm just so bloody lazy.

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Well, I'm a bit of a melancholic myself. And no doubt our respective psyches affect our general outlook.

That said, I don't know that there exists a hard-and-fast rule that would preclude even prudent developers of a hotel (on top of a hotel) from thriving.

In other words, do we know better than the developer ? Maybe. Maybe not.

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"In other words, do we know better than the developer ? Maybe. Maybe not."

Amen to that.

I like being the dark cloud in a room, though. It makes me chuckle quietly in a self-satisfied way. Perhaps this is why I have so few friends...

I'm not opposed to this project, incidentally, nor do I expect very many residents of Tampa would be. If it works, it'll be one hell of an asset to downtown. I do tend to spend a lot of my time thinking about what happens when things don't work. I work in aviation, after all, so when things don't work usually you crash and everybody dies. It has a way of focussing the mind on avoiding the negative outcome.

And, in my view, the potential negative of this project creating an oversupply of luxo hotel rooms is the failure of the Floridan project. Were it in my power to do so (and we should all be very thankful that it's not), I would gladly sell this fairmont project down the river to ensure the successful revival of the Floridan.

Maybe I'm being a reactionary jerk. But you could put luxury hotels on every remaining block in downtown if you wanted to. That doesn't mean you could fill them up, and at some point you have to admit that a big empty building is not an asset. Fill the Floridan and you clear that problem up. Fill the Floridan and then dilute the market to the point that it can't stay in business and you've accomplished nothing. I don't care whether the Fairmont looks nice on the skyline; I care more about fixing one of the big dark spots on the skyline. As the rhetorical in the last post says, I may very well be entirely wrong in thinking we can't support both projects. I hope I am.

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"Actually, somebody probably ought to look up the vacancy rates in the two existing downtown hotels. I suppose I could, but... oh I'm just so bloody lazy."

I live on Harbour Island and know one of the marketers for the waterside Marriot hotel. He did mention to me about a year ago that they were having some low vacancy rates last summer. The implication there is that if one of the best downtown hotels is having problems with vacancy, what will happen when you add more hotels? Oddly enough, 3 years ago (during Gasparilla) while having lunch on the patio at the same Marriot with an out of town freind, his criticism of Tampa was that we do not have any luxury hotels. :whistling:

When you think about it, what would be the draw to bring a mass of luxury hotel goers to Tampa? I love Tampa, but short of Gasparilla and the Buccaneers, what would be the attraction? The city has no real cultural identity, no beach, no good gambling, and meager shopping (one mall worth mentioning to out-of-towners). The quality and quantity of the downtown attractions MUST improve if these hotels are going to make it.

hjack

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"Actually, somebody probably ought to look up the vacancy rates in the two existing downtown hotels. I suppose I could, but... oh I'm just so bloody lazy."

I live on Harbour Island and know one of the marketers for the waterside Marriot hotel. He did mention to me about a year ago that they were having some low vacancy rates last summer. The implication there is that if one of the best downtown hotels is having problems with vacancy, what will happen when you add more hotels? Oddly enough, 3 years ago (during Gasparilla) while having lunch on the patio at the same Marriot with an out of town freind, his criticism of Tampa was that we do not have any luxury hotels.  :whistling:

When you think about it, what would be the draw to bring a mass of luxury hotel goers to Tampa? I love Tampa, but short of Gasparilla and the Buccaneers, what would be the attraction? The city has no real cultural identity, no beach, no good gambling, and meager shopping (one mall worth mentioning to out-of-towners). The quality and quantity of the downtown attractions MUST improve if these hotels are going to make it.

hjack

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Tampa is known for building things when there really is not enough demand to support it. I still believe downtown has the potential to become a great place to live but for good shopping and dining, it will need to go through some drastic changes. I sure hope Ashley Drive gets a makeover. It is ragged and needs to be repaved. When and if downtown ever becomes a tourist trap or a busy business destination, that's when they should build the luxury hotel.

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