Westshore Marina District finally taking shape

A plan to build up part of Tampa’s waterfront went belly-up after the recession, but developers are now turning that area into a 52-acre residential and retail community.

It’s set to create a lifestyle Tampa didn’t have before near the Gandy Bridge. Developers are transforming the area into the Westshore Marina District.

“Really, up until very recently, it's been rather desolate,” said Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen of District 4.

Cohen said he’s excited for the opportunity this development brings.

“There are 500,000 to 600,000 people moving to the area in the next 20 years,” he continued.

Developers are turning property into luxury townhouses, apartments, and condos as well as walking trails, retail shops and waterfront restaurants.

“So I think that having the opportunity to pull your boat up, have a dinner on the water and still be able to go home is just a really fun and great opportunity,” said Mark Metheny, the division president for WCI, one of the companies working on the marina district with developer BTI.

Metheny said it fills a void in Tampa. “Right now, we spend a lot of time going to the Pinellas beaches and places. And there's only a couple of restaurants where you can go now on this side of the bay."

To handle the influx of new people, city leaders planned ahead. “So, this area is really going to get a tremendous amount of infrastructure development related to storm water and flooding,” said Cohen.

And if you’re worried about more traffic, city leaders said improvements are underway. “We are actually adding lanes and adding capacity to the Westshore-Gandy intersection, and this particular development has its own entrance west of that intersection from the Gandy Bridge,” said Cohen.

The idea is to create a resort-style life in the city. “People will be able to come from Pinellas County, from all over Florida and visit here and shop, dine and live here,” said Britney Mroczkowski, the vice president of retail development at BTI.

While some homes are currently for sale and apartments now leasing, developers said you’ll see construction for another 18 months to finish other parts of the project.