Business Florida 2019 - The Regions
Growing the Future
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled plans for a ballpark they hope to build in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood. Cost to construct the stadium, which would feature a translucent roof over the outfield and 28,216 seats, is estimated at $892 million. While details are finalized, including how to pay for the project, the Rays will continue to play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Downtowns across the region are coming alive, too. Activity is ramping up at Water Street Tampa, the $3-billion, mixed-use redevelopment project taking shape in downtown Tampa’s Channel District. In April, the first phase of vertical construction began with a groundbreaking for the 26-story JW Marriott luxury hotel. Over the coming year, developers anticipate construction to be underway on 10 of Water Street’s planned 22 buildings, with openings anticipated as early as summer 2020.
Tampa isn’t the only downtown venue undergoing transformation. Across the bay in St. Petersburg, 17 major construction projects are underway downtown — from high-rise apartment buildings to a new police station — for a total of $500 million. Likewise, Clearwater is moving ahead with “Imagine Clearwater,” a $555-million redevelopment plan to transform the city’s downtown waterfront and Coachman Park areas with the addition of public gardens, a concert venue, gateway plaza and walking paths overlooking Clearwater Harbor.
Tampa Bay’s largest university — the University of South Florida — is having quite a run. In 2017, USF received a record 116 U.S. utility patents, propelling the university to No. 5 in the nation — and No. 12 worldwide — among public universities for patent production. In June 2018, USF was designated a “Preeminent State Research University” by the Florida Board of Governors. The long-sought title held by just two other schools — UF and FSU — rewards high-achieving universities based on 12 metrics, including graduation rates, research expenditures and patent production. And in August, USF became home to a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Good things happened at other Tampa Bay educational institutions too. Florida’s newest accredited university — Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland — graduated its first four-year class in May 2018. At Florida Southern College — best-known as home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture — the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise was included for the first time in The Princeton Review’s “Best Business Schools.” And in Sarasota, the newly created Cross College Alliance allows the 16,000+ students enrolled at New College of Florida, USF Sarasota-Manatee, Ringling College of Art & Design, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota and FSU/Ringling Museum to cross register for classes and compete for internships and job opportunities countywide.
At the high school level, four Tampa Bay schools earned gold medals in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best High Schools 2018” rankings. At No. 19 nationwide, Pine View School in Osprey was Florida’s top-rated high school; Tampa’s Plant and Robinson high schools and Newsome High School in Lithia also were cited.