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New 50 story tower for downtown Tampa

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Developer Plans To Take Condos To New Heights

TAMPA - A local development group wants to reshape downtown Tampa's skyline - and redefine the phrase ``living the high life'' - with a 50-story, 213-unit condominium tower along the Hillsborough River.

Whiting & Ashley LLC, headed by Clearwater orthodontist Howard Howell, is putting together plans for a 593-foot-tall riverfront building between Whiting and Brorein streets. Tampa's tallest building today is 100 North Tampa, at 579 feet; its neighbor, Bank of America Plaza, is two feet shorter.

The top floors of the condominium tower would be reserved for nine penthouses, which would range in size from 5,600 square feet to 7,700 square feet. Price tags would run from $1.5 million to $2 million.

Beneath the penthouses, the average condominium unit would have 2,300 square feet of space. Prices haven't been determined for those units.

A slew of condominium projects have been proposed for the city's Channelside district, but Howell said his firm chose a site that's closer to the downtown core, where more than 70,000 people work.

``We feel very, very comfortable with the location, a prime spot on the water next to the financial district,'' he said.

Howell said he's already discussed the condominium tower with city leaders, including Mayor Pam Iorio and Economic Development Administrator Mark Huey.

Iorio said she favors the condominium tower, but pointed out that the project still hasn't been reviewed by the city council or the community.

``From every thing I have heard about this particular project, it would be quality, it would be an asset for our downtown, and it would bring people into our downtown core as residents, and that would be positive,'' she said. ``The more people we have living downtown, the healthier downtown will be.''

Whiting & Ashley LLC bought the office building at 102 Whiting St. and the neighboring parking lot last June for $6.3 million, Hillsborough County records show. The development group's attorney, Ronald L. Weaver, said the group also has recently purchased the vacant land south of the office building, and owns all of the property it needs for the condominium tower. The office building will not be torn down to make room for the tower.

SimDag Investments LLC, a privately held Largo company that invests primarily in luxury waterfront developments, is backing the Whiting & Ashley project.

The development group expects to file its plans with the city on Wednesday. The group won't disclose what it will cost to build the condominium tower, and it's still talking to contractors and real estate brokers, Howell said. The group also hasn't settled on a name for the tower.

The design by Tampa-based Smith Barnes Santiesteban Architecture includes 3,000 square feet of retail space and a restaurant overlooking the river on the ground floor, topped by eight levels of parking with a total of 517 spaces. The tenth floor features an outdoor pool.

Howell said he expects construction to begin in early 2005, and the tower will take between 24 and 30 months to complete.

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