Monday Morning Memo

Monday, December 17, 2018

Board Member Spotlight: Jin Liu

Jin Liu represents Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), national builders, resort developers, and other developers of large commercial and residential projects in purchase and sale of both improved and unimproved property, business planning and implementation, transaction structuring, equity investment, and a variety of financing transactions. Jin also represents CMBS lenders, loan servicers, and other financial institutions in CMBS, and other loan transactions, loan sales, workouts, and disposition of real estate.  Jin has experience advising developers and financial institutions with respect to Florida condominium filings and condominium related due diligence issues.

Jin is a bi-cultural and bilingual attorney who received legal education in both the United States and China. She has represented international, in particular Chinese clients, in EB-5 investment immigration related development projects and a variety of other commercial transactions.

Jin currently chairs the Special Investors and Investment Structure Group of the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section. She has organized and participated in multiple presentation and writing projects on cross-border real estate transactions.

Urban Excellence Award Winners Focus: Armature Works

Armature Works won the 2018 Landmark Development Project Award during the Urban Excellence Awards held November 29. This award recognizes an iconic building that serves as a magnet to attract people to Downtown by improving the physical environment or by enhancing the economic, cultural or social well-being of the area.

Once known as the TECO streetcar warehouse, the Armature Works structure played a significant role for the City of Tampa as the repair and storage facility for the Tampa Electric Street and Railway Company (formerly known as the Streetcar Barn). The barn was an integral part of Tampa’s development in connecting the surrounding neighborhoods.

In 1946, the system was abandoned for more modern means of transportation, the automobile. Tampa Armature Works, a phosphate machinery manufacturer, purchased the building from TECO in 1960. Developers Chas Bruck and Adam Harden of SoHo Capital, envisioned a modernized neighborhood hangout for Tampa’s waterfront community and a national destination aimed to attract visitors from near and far. Today, Armature Works has been repurposed to its originality, becoming the heart of the Heights neighborhood as a mixed-use commercial building.

Finalists are chosen through a three-step process. First, the Tampa Downtown Partnership invites the public to submit nominations for each category. When the nomination period closes, each submission is considered based on the criteria set within each category. Finally, a panel of jurors representing a cross-section of downtown constituencies evaluate the nominations on a scale of 1-10 based on the criteria and their relation to six topics; innovation, creativity, engagement, sustainability, advancement, and impact.

Our Holiday Hours

Please be aware of the following special holiday hours.

Tampa Downtown Partnership Office:

December 24 – Closing at Noon
December 25 – Closed
December 31 – Closing at Noon
January 1 – Closed

Tampa’s Downtown Guides 

December 24 – 8am to 5pm
December 25 – Off
January 1 – Off

Tampa’s Downtown Clean Team

December 24 – 7am to 4pm
December 25 – Off
January 1 – Off

For Emergencies (Police – Fire – Medical) DIAL 9-1-1
For Non-Emergencies call: (813) 231-6130

Mayoral Candidate Forum: Join Us!

Be informed and join us for a chance to have your questions answered by the 2019 Mayoral Candidates on Wednesday, January 16th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at the Rialto Theatre. A panel discussion with moderator will follow networking and casual conversation. Confirmed candidates: Jane Castor, Harry Cohen, Topher Morrison, Mike Suarez, and Ed Turanchik. Invited but not confirmed candidates: LaVaughn King and David Straz. Register today! Interested in sponsorship for this event? Check out our Sponsorship Packet.

Publix Buys Real Estate in Channel District

Publix Super Markets Inc. has acquired its new store in downtown Tampa’s Channel district from the developers who built it.

The Lakeland-based grocer paid $7.69 million for the 37,600-square-foot store, which fronts Meridian Avenue between Twiggs and Madison streets. It is part of the Channel Club, a development that also includes a 21-story apartment tower.

The developer is a joint venture between Tampa’s Mercury Advisors and Atlanta-based ECI Group.

The apartment tower opened to residents in November. The Publix store is expected to open in the second quarter of 2019, a Publix spokesman said.

The Channel district Publix has been hailed as a transformative development for downtown Tampa. Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn championed the store as a watershed moment for the city’s revitalization efforts.

“This really drives homes the reality that downtown Tampa has become a place to live, work and play,” Buckhorn said in 2015.

Publix has been buying more and more of its real estate in recent years, accelerating its acquisitions of stores and shopping centers beginning in 2008. Read more about its real estate strategy here.

“Publix buys its real estate in downtown Tampa’s Channel district”Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)

Port Tampa Bay Exec to Head Enterprise Florida

The next president to lead the economic development organization for the state is expected to be a top executive at Port Tampa Bay.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis announced on Dec. 13 he will recommend that Enterprise Florida Inc.’s Board of Directors appoint Jamal Sowell as its next president and CEO for the DeSantis-Nunez Administration.

Sowell’s responsibility at the port is coordinating the operations of the president and CEO’s office.

Mike Grissom is currently the interim president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, following the departure of Pete Antonacci.

“A native Floridian, Jamal Sowell is a person of integrity who has served his country and, now, has successfully helped to lead and grow the Port of Tampa Bay — one of the largest economic engines in the region,” DeSantis said in a news release. “I am proud to recommend Jamal to serve as the next president and CEO of Enterprise Florida. I know he will bring his acumen to the department, keep our state competitive and ensure our workforce has opportunities.”

Sowell previously worked as assistant to the University of Florida president and also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Enterprise Florida board is expected to vote on Sowell in the beginning of 2019.

DeSantis also announced that Visit Florida CEO Ken Lawson will serve as the new executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“Under Ken’s leadership as head of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and more recently as CEO of Visit Florida, Florida was able to create more than 1.6 million private-sector jobs while setting remarkable visitation records,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a release.

“Port Tampa Bay exec recommended to become CEO of Enterprise Florida”Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)

Florida Aquarium Challenge to Skip the Straw

We are joining the Florida Aquarium and taking the challenge to skip the straw. Pledge to skip plastic straws and help protect Tampa Bay waters.

Did you know that a plastic straw can take hundreds of years to break down? Plastic straws are used for only moments and then thrown away, sometimes ending up in our oceans and waterways where they can harm the animals that live in them. Plastics remain in oceans, rivers and lakes for hundreds of years, polluting the habitats and threatening the health of our blue planet. Plastics, like straws, can break down into even smaller pieces over time (called microplastics). Microplastics have been found in foods we eat such as canned tuna, in table salt, beer, bottled water and even in the air we breathe.

We challenge you to join us in taking one small step—a first step—and skip the straw when dining out, getting an iced coffee or heading to the the drive thru. Each time you skip you’re saying YES to cleaner waters, a healthier natural environment and a healthy planet. Don’t want to or can’t Skip the Straw? Ask for a paper straw or purchase reusable stainless steel or glass straws and keep them with you everywhere you go.

Learn more at

Application Window Closing for Rampello K-8 Downtown Partnership School

Rampello K-8 Downtown Partnership School , Urban Excellence Award Finalist in the Public Sector, is currently taking applications to their lottery for the 2019-2020 school year. Rampello is a highly competitive, A-rated magnet school that was nominated for their positive and significant contribution to Tampa’s Downtown. The students get to experience their magnet theme of cultural arts and humanities by being explorers of downtown’s museums, parks, theaters, and more. Applications will be taken till December 31st. To find out more information or schedule a tour please visit:

Sparkman Wharf Featured in Food & Wine Magazine

The following is taken from a December 11th article titled “You Should See What’s Happening in Downtown Tampa” –

On a Sunday afternoon in December, the temperature in Tampa had climbed well above eighty degrees, the sun was out, hot, and in one corner of the city, on the other side of town from where the Bucs were beating the Panthers, you couldn’t even move for the traffic. Then, once you found somewhere to put your car, there were the people to contend with. So many of them, everybody seemed to be down here, in a part of downtown Tampa they call the Channel District, which is where the cruise ships dock, where you will find a handful of the sort of things, beginning with a very popular aquarium, that keep cruise ship passengers, casual tourists and conventioneers occupied. The draw today, however, was the latest and greatest addition to the neighborhood, which wasn’t so much something new, but rather the reinvention of something old, something nobody really cared about, until quite recently.

The story of Sparkman Wharf, the new thing everybody was here to see, begins back at the turn of the century, back when the Channelside Bay Plaza was completed, an entertainment complex that from day one never really met its potential. Today, the complex is essentially shuttered, painted top to bottom in fashionable slate gray, but people are not interested in the building itself, but rather what has happened on the expansive waterfront plaza, right in front of the building, which will eventually be converted into commercial and retail space. All of that comes later, and is less interesting, honestly—right now, the people are here to eat. And they are eating very well, indeed—Tampa, itself no stranger to the food hall concept, has managed yet another such project, perhaps its finest yet, ten venues in total, many helmed by prominent local chefs and restaurateurs, working out of a speedily, cleverly put-together container park. Roof, walls, this is Florida in December, we’re on the water, who needs them.

Read the full story at

Tampa Chamber Hits A Milestone In Its Diversity Goals

At its annual meeting Dec. 13, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce marked the end of the first year of its two-year Minority Business Accelerator cohort of four businesses, and welcomed three new ones as a second cohort.

“When we started this, we wanted to help good businesses that happened to be minority-owned grow,” said Bemetra Simmons, 2018 MBA Program Chair, in a prepared statement. “That’s what we’ve done with this group.”

To back that up, it prepared a report card showing the companies collectively filled 71 openings and created 12 new jobs in a year. One company secured capital and 13 assets were acquired among them, the chamber said.

The chamber chose businesses that were financially sound, but struggling to grow. The accelerator aims to address a range of issues common to minority-owned businesses, including access to capital, strategic planning, reaching decision-makers and learning how to grow their businesses.

Ahead of the program, the chamber hired an economist to analyze minority-owned businesses in Hillsborough County and found that nearly half of all private businesses were minority-owned, yet only 5 percent of the county’s revenue came from those same businesses.

“We want our business community to reflect its demographics,” Chamber President and CEO Bob Rohrlack told the Tampa Bay Business Journal in June. “We want our membership to reflect the county.”

The new cohort includes Envision Construction Services, OHC Environmental Engineering, and ProFit Development.

Chamber’s MBA first year highlights: 

  • Chameleon Custom Solutions Marketing increased its business credibility score and secured three pieces of technology
  • McKenzie Contracting has a 50 percent increase in its line of credit for working capital
  • Matcon Construction Services secured a high-dollar contract with a new corporate client
  • MidFlorida Armored and ATM Services had a 47 percent increase in gross revenue

“Tampa chamber hits a milestone in its diversity goals” – Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)

Downtown Calendar

Your Downtown Calendar

The following is just a sample of upcoming events in Downtown Tampa.  Visit the Downtown Tampa Events Calendar for a more comprehensive list.

Winter Wonderettes

Through Sunday, December 23
Stageworks Theatre
The Wonderettes are back! This social celebration finds the girls entertaining at the annual Harper’s Hardware Holiday Party. When Santa goes missing, the girls use their talent and creative ingenuity to save the holiday party! Featuring great ‘60s versions of holiday classics such as Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Jingle Bell Rock, Run Rudolph Run, and Winter Wonderland. The result is, of course, marvelous! This energetic and glittering holiday package is guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. For more info, go to Winter Wonderettes.

Cirque du Soleil presents “CRYSTAL”

Wednesday, December 19 to Sunday, December 23
Amalie Arena
This unique arena production showcases synchronized and freestyle ice skating alongside circus disciplines such as swinging trapeze, hand balancing on chairs, and hand to hand. Watch world-class ice skaters and acrobats explore their new frozen playground with fluidity with never-before-seen acrobatics. The show fuses circus arts and the world of ice skating in a stunning new production that will take the audience on a journey into a surreal world where figure skating blends with acrobatics and aerial feats. CRYSTAL is suitable for all ages. For more info, go to Cirque du Soleil presents “CRYSTAL.

Downtown Tampa Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

Saturday, December 22, begins 6pm
Tampa Riverwalk
See the river beautifully lit up with loads of holiday-themed boats. Nearly 100 lighted boats participated in last year’s parade, and this year will be another fan favorite. The route traditionally goes along the Tampa Riverwalk and down the Hillsborough River through Downtown Tampa. For more information, go to Downtown Tampa Holiday Boat Parade of Lights.

Candlelight Christmas in the Park

Sunday, December 23, begins 5:30pm
Water Works Park
Experience the joy of a candlelight Christmas with Hyde Park United Methodist. Gather to sing Christmas carols, hear timeless stories, drink coffee from The Portico Cafe, and meet other people. This event is a fantastic way to get ready for the holiday and ramp up your Christmas spirit! For more information, go to Candlelight Christmas in the Park.

Taking the Stage at the Straz Center

Amythyst Kiah – Monday, December 17, begins 7:30pm
Patel Conservatory presents FREE Jazz Jam concert – Tuesday, December 18, begins 7pm
Latin Nights – Thursday, December 20, 9pm to 1am
Next Generation Ballet’s Nutcracker  – Friday, December 21 to Sunday, December 23
Calandra® an Eloquent Blending of Strings® – Saturday, December 22, begins 7:30pm
Live & Local – Sarah Morey  – Saturday, December 22, 5pm to 8pm
Live & Local – Jariah Higgins – Sunday, December 23, 3pm to 6pm

On the Marquee at Tampa Theatre

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – Through Thursday, December 20
Hotel California: A Salute to the Eagles – Tuesday, December 18, begins 7pm
Mary Queen of Scots (2018) – Friday, December 21 to Thursday, December 27
White Christmas (1954) – Sunday, December 23, 3pm to 5pm

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Monday Morning Memo –Monday Morning Memo is a weekly update of “insider downtown information” regarding developments, transportation, special opportunities and other useful information to help you make the most of downtown. Subscribe to receive this weekly newsletter.

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