During the Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Tampa Bay Convention Center, plans for the redevelopment of 40 acres of downtown Tampa were revealed. The redevelopment plans include office space, new residential units, a hotel development, retail space, and walkable parks. The redevelopment would occur around Amalie Arena in Tampa’s core.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik presented the plan at the conference. Images of the development design, including a planned 4-star hotel, were unveiled during his announcement. Vinik pledged to spend roughly $1 billion on the redevelopment efforts in partnership with Bill Gates’ billion-dollar Cascade Investment fund.
Since his purchase of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team in 2010, Vinik has been on a crusade to improve tourism in the Tampa area. Vinik originally purchased two vacant lots in downtown Tampa with the goal of improving the economically depressed area. Today, he owns or leases more than 1 million square feet of developable space and waterfront property.
This development is seen as another way to market Tampa Bay as a tourism destination. Several restaurants have recently announced that they will be opening in the Tampa Bay area and another planned development is slated to begin in Part Tampa Bay. More than 1,000 tourism industry professionals were attending the conference on Tuesday morning when the plan was revealed.
Local attractions continue to be a big draw for tourists visiting the area. According to Visit Florida, more than 97 million visitors came to the state last year. In the first six months of this year, the state recorded roughly 54 million visitors, putting it on pace to crack 100 million visitors this year.
The 49th annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism is being held at the Tampa Convention Center at 333 South Franklin Street from Monday to Wednesday. The annual event provides a venue for businesses and tourism officials to discuss the future of tourism in Florida.