Plan for Tampa Armature Works site includes market, restaurant, hotel

At a news conference, developers joined Mayor Bob Buckhorn to announce a project called "The Heights."  Phase One includes a complete renovation of the old Armature Works building, which was built in 1911 and is currently crumbling.

"It's been a long time coming," said Buckhorn. "I was on City Council back in the 90's when we  approved this original plan. It's lived through the recession. It's had its ups and downs. It has emerged as, what I think, will be one of the most significant redevelopment projects."

The structure will include the Heights Market, which includes 16 walk-up vendors, along with two restaurants, a rooftop bar, an event space, and a theater.

SoHo Capital is the company behind the project.

"The Armature is the center of our project. It's a true meeting space where we want the people who are  living here and working here to come together and congregate," said Chas Bruck, one of SoHo Capital's  principals.

The Armature Works renovations are expected to be finished by January 2017. It'll be the hub of a 43- acre district where people can shop, live, and work.

Developers scoured the country looking for ideas.

"We've traveled to Chicago, Boston, Portland, Denver, Atlanta," Bruck said, adding he saw a unique  opportunity in this building. "We have the works here: an office component, we have two restaurants, a  rooftop bar, the event space and the market hall all coming together and being one place. So in our travels we didn't find a building exactly like this."

For lifelong residents, like Rick Fernandez with the Tampa Heights Civic Association, this is a long time coming.

"For the Tampa Heights area, this is huge. For the community, for my neighbors, for my friends, this  is huge. For the city of Tampa, it is a game-changer," he said.

These projects continue the developments in along the Hillsborough River that began with Water Works  Park and Ulele restaurant.

Armature Works will soon be the northern hub of the Riverwalk.

"Anybody that's lived here for their whole lives or even for a significant period of time had to know  that the river was an untapped resource and now finally it's happening," Fernandez said. "It's a wonderful experience to live through, I'm glad I'm around long enough to see it."

Brand new apartments, called The Pearl, are expected to be open by next fall.

Phase Two of the project will include a hotel, along with more shops, restaurants, and office spaces.

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