Bob Rohrlack, CCE, serves as the President and CEO of The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce (GTCC), the voice of business for the Tampa Bay area. He heads the Chamber’s VISION2026 Plan. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce was the 2013 Florida Chamber of the Year and is a U.S. Chamber 5 Star accredited Chamber. Only 1.6% of the Chambers nationwide have achieved this level of distinction.
He has over 34 years experience in the Chamber of Commerce/economic development profession and has worked at the local, state, public and private sectors. Since joining the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, they have realized a top tier membership increase of 260%. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce was the first of only 15 Chambers nationwide hosted by the White House for an Economic Briefing discussing Healthcare, Transportation and International Trade, all strong positions for the Chamber. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is the first, and currently, the only Chamber to achieve the “3 Star Chamber of Valor” award from the U.S. Chamber for their work supporting the military.
Bob has served as the Chairman of the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals (FACP), Board of Visit Tampa Bay, University of Tampa Trustee, Tampa Downtown Partnership, Westshore Alliance, and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. He was the 2017 FACP Florida Executive of the Year.
He graduated from the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and at the Institute of Organizational Management, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at the University of Georgia, where he also is on faculty for the program. He holds a Master’s Degree in Economic Development and is a 2019 candidate for his Doctorate in Business Administration
He grew up in Central Florida, has been married 29 years to his wife, Sue and has three sons. He enjoys travelling, running, having completed 9 marathons, and is part of Bible Study Fellowship.
Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park presented by the Tampa Bay Lightning is Downtown Tampa’s only outdoor (REAL!) ice rink. During its seven week installation running November 16 through January 5, Winter Village will feature 10 boutiques from local craftspeople and purveyors as well as specialty drinks and treats to complement the 5,000 square feet of real ice.
New this season, the Tampa Downtown Partnership is introducing a 360-degree choreographed light display that pairs with your favorite holiday sounds creating a holiday experience like no other. The Partnership is also bringing a bit of the beach to Downtown Tampa with a holiday sand sculpture crafted by local artists Sandtastic, who are featured in the Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival.
Tampa Downtown Partnership is also bringing back two experiences introduced last season through strategic partnerships with Tampa Theatre and TECO Line Streetcar.
Shown in the Great Lawn of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Tampa Theatre will present “Home Alone” on Winter Village’s opening night, Friday, November 16, and “The Santa Clause” after Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony presented by Friends of Tampa Recreation on Friday, November 30. The support of the F.E. Lykes Foundation makes the screenings possible.
The TECO Line Streetcar has renewed the partnership with Tampa Downtown Partnership to offer a holiday experience aboard a themed Streetcar with the Winter Village Express. Riders can board the Winter Village Express at the Centro Ybor or Whiting Station on Sundays beginning November 18 through December 23 between 3pm and 8pm to enjoy treats, music and activities during the non-stop ride.
For hours, ticket prices and more information, visit WinterVillageTampa.com. #WinterVillageTampa
Join us on November 29th at Armature Works as we celebrate businesses, organizations, individuals, events, and projects that have made significant contributions toward creating a unique, vibrant, and diverse downtown environment – and have made a lasting, positive impact on Downtown Tampa. Kari Goetz, Vice President of External Relations for the Florida Aquarium, returns at Emcee for this fun and honorable event. Each year an awards jury representing a cross-section of Downtown constituencies selects award winners honoring the leadership, innovation, hard work, talent and community spirit. The evening’s program includes networking, dinner, and an awards ceremony where winners will be announced.
Register to join the celebration today!
MEET THE FINALISTS
Tampa Hillsborough County Expressway Authority Pocket Parks Phase 1 Street Car Live by GMF Downtown Crawlers
Arts & Culture:
Tampa Museum’s Love is Calling Exhibit The History Center’s New Pirate Ship Exhibit Pep Rally Inc.
Street Car by HART 2018 Commuter Challenge Week Madame Fortune Taylor Bridge Historical Marker Ceremony and Unveiling
Two Wheel Bike Valet Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Franklin Street Block Party 2018 Riverfest
Tampa Theatre Armature Works The Hall
Don Me Now Duckweed Maven Market Channel District
Wilson Company Collective – Gin Joint SHUFFLE – The Heights Shuffleboard Society Tampa Bay Fiber
Julian B Lane Riverfront Park Florida Department of Transportation- District Seven Jackson Street Rampello K-8 Downtown Partnership School
Person of The Year:
Leo Rodgers Abbey Dohring John Bell
Leave it to the arrival of a visionary investor like Sir Richard Branson to help flesh out the vision for Brightline’s proposed Tampa-to-Orlando passenger train service.
On Friday, Miami-based Brightline announced that Branson’s Virgin Group had taken a minority stake in the company, and that Brightline will change its name to Virgin Trains USA. Leave it to the arrival of a visionary investor like Sir Richard Branson to help flesh out the vision for Brightline’s proposed Tampa-to-Orlando passenger train service.
On Friday, Miami-based Brightline announced that Branson’s Virgin Group had taken a minority stake in the company, and that Brightline will change its name to Virgin Trains USA.
Creating the Tampa-to-Orlando service has an estimated cost of $1.7 billion. Virgin projects 2.9 million passengers a year as a result of expanding its system from Orlando west to Tampa, with an estimated average round-trip ticket price of $73 — more than $100 less than the average Acela fare of $174. That would generate nearly $212 million a year in ticket revenue. Virgin expects food and beverage sales, parking, naming rights, sponsorships and partnerships, merchandise, advertising and other fees to equal about 14 percent of total revenues, or about $12 per passenger.
Virgin anticipates a Tampa terminal somewhere in or near downtown Tampa with “adjacent real estate for commercial development.” Brightline’s business model combines using rail to connect cities with traffic and congestion, and developing real estate around its terminals to cater to businesses and residents drawn to the alternative that rail provides in a dense urban environment. In the Overtown area near downtown Miami, its terminal is at the heart of a 1.6 million-square-foot privately financed development that includes two office towers, two apartment towers, 130,000 square feet of stores and restaurants.
But in Tampa, Virgin said, “we have not yet acquired all real property interests necessary for the Tampa Expansion,” adding that some “must be acquired from private parties.”
Of the Tampa sites that Brightline is known to have scouted, the old Morgan Street jail site is owned by the state of Florida, Tampa Union Station is owned by the city of Tampa, the Tampa Park Apartments are owned by a nonprofit group headed by Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper publisher S. Kay Andrews and the GasWorx property, near the proposed Ybor City site of a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium, is owned by investor Darryl Shaw.
Virgin also said it expects to contract with “municipal and private parties to purchase, lease or otherwise obtain the right to use land for the construction and operation of the Tampa expansion.”
First, however, the Florida Department of Transportation has to consider Brightline’s proposal — the only bid received in response to a state request for proposals — to create and run the service. That decision is scheduled for Nov. 28.
“Brightline-Virgin rail service from Tampa to Orlando has estimated cost of $1.7 billion” – Tampa Bay Times
The Pennsylvania-based investors who bought Skyhouse Channelside in mid-November paid slightly more than the building’s sellers did two years ago.
Willner Realty & Development Co. paid $90 million for the 23-story apartment tower, according to Hillsborough County property records. That breaks down to $278,637 per apartment.
Cushman & Wakefield Inc. announced the sale of the tower in mid-November but did not disclose a purchase price.
The sellers, New York-based AVR Realty, paid $88 million or $272,445 per apartment. Skyhouse includes 323 apartments that average 794 square feet. The property also includes a 567-space parking garage and 6,482 square feet of ground-floor retail, where tenants include District Tavern, the UPS Store and Great Expressions Dental Center.
The sales price is at the top end of Tampa Bay’s luxury apartment market. Element, a 35-story tower in downtown Tampa, sold for more than $284,000 per unit in 2017. A property not far from Skyhouse, 2Bayshore, sold for more than $300,000 in 2014, setting a record for downtown Tampa apartment sales.
The overall record for Tampa Bay market-rate apartment sales was set in downtown St. Petersburg, where a tower sold for more than $350,000 per unit in January.
Investors willing to pay that much price per unit have confidence in the Bay region’s multifamily market. They see a long-term ability to command top-dollar rents that will justify those purchase prices — or the potential for condo conversions. A Canadian group that owns the majority of units in the fractured condo The Place at Channelside has kicked off a sales campaign to convert the rental units there to condos.
“Purchase price for 23-story Skyhouse Channelside revealed” – Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)
The CV Pilot Showcase will take place on Thursday, November 29, 2018, from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. After brief opening remarks, media will travel to three demonstration sites to witness the first-ever demonstration of how the connected vehicle safety applications on transit vehicles can help prevent crashes between cars, transit vehicles, and even pedestrians. Transportation to each destination is courtesy of HART.
The safety applications in the vehicles have been successfully demonstrated and reported on previously; this event will highlight applications involving HART buses, TECO Line System streetcars, and pedestrians for the first time. Media will have the opportunity to ride in a car, bus and streetcar that are equipped to “talk” to the roadway and other connected vehicles.
Date: Thursday, November 29, 2018
Location: Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority Board Room, 1104 E. Twiggs St. Tampa, FL 33602
When Taylor Martin received an influencer package from the developers of Sparkman Wharf, she headed for the property armed with the instant camera that came in the box.
“Got the cutest package from @sparkmanwharf including a Polaroid camera … so naturally I went down to shoot with it. Cannot wait for this place to open on November 30!” Martin, who has more than 3,600 followers on her @allthingstampa account, wrote underneath a photo of the instant film photo she took at the wharf.
It’s a bit meta — a photo of a photo of the wharf, taken and posted at the wharf — and it’s also exactly what Strategic Property Partners was aiming for when it sent marketing boxes to around 25 influencers in the Tampa area in mid-November. SPP, controlled by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC, is the developer of Sparkman Wharf and the surrounding Water Street Tampa neighborhood, which spans 50 acres and will total more than $3 billion at full buildout.
Commercial real estate development, particularly within urban cores, has long focused on creating a sense of place: a combination of physical elements that add up to an intrinsic identity that residents and visitors feel as much as they see. In 2018, though, that sense of place has to go beyond the vibe to create a space that people want to photograph and share, especially on Instagram, which is ground zero for millennial foodies and travelers.
Sparkman Wharf and Water Street are massive, multibillion-dollar real estate developments. Some facets of the projects — like recruiting corporate users to the office space within Water Street or the high-level research that will be conducted at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine — are very serious endeavors that don’t and probably shouldn’t play well on social media. But creating an overall identity that looks and sounds good on social media is critical to the success of both the wharf and Water Street, said Gabby Soriano, marketing manager at SPP.
“That’s the way you get people to be your own ambassador out in the streets,” she said. “We can say it all day long: ‘This is so cool; come check it out.’ But when you have people in and around the community or better yet, visitors, posting about it — that is the best. That’s what you’re always striving for.”
The first phase of Sparkman Wharf, the property formerly known as Channelside Bay Plaza, will officially open on Nov. 30, kicking off a grand opening weekend of events and live music.
There’s a growing awareness in commercial real estate on the importance of social media to a property’s overall success, Jon Iadonisi, founder and CEO of Dallas-based marketing agency VizSense, recently told Propmodo, which covers real estate and technology.
“What the data is showing us is that there’s a growing symbiosis between the online world and what people are posting and how the community and businesses are responding,” Iadonisi told Propmodo. “Real estate developers and owners have a massive opportunity — they just may not know about it.”
SPP’s developments are far from the only ones in the Bay region to consider Instagram as part of their real estate strategy. St. Petersburg developer Jonathan Daou, who has revitalized much of the city’s Edge district, has made murals and experiences that can’t be replicated online a big focus of the urban neighborhood.
“We’re setting the markers that make people who are living a part of their life on social media feel right at home,” Daou told the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2017. “They feel that, ‘This is designed for the sharing of my life, so my friends can experience the good things I am experiencing.’”
The Heights, home to the historic brick facades of the Armature Works building and a giant-sized chess board on the Hillsborough River, has also capitalized on Instagram. And the redevelopment of Hyde Park Village, where Soriano worked before joining SPP, includes photo ops at seemingly every turn, from large-scale murals on dock doors to small, tucked away sentiments like “you left a mark” painted subtly on the side of a white brick building.
But Sparkman Wharf and Water Street are different: Everything about Water Street is new, literally from the ground up, beginning with a realigned road grid and underground cooling pipes that free up the district’s rooftops for things like yoga classes and dog parks. Part of the reason that Sparkman Wharf’s previous incarnation, Channelside Bay Plaza, struggled for most of its existence is that it didn’t have a strong identity, long before Instagram was even a thing.
That means SPP has had to create social media-friendly identities for both the wharf and Water Street — well before the first influencer ever set foot on either property.
To do that, Soriano said, the developer is thinking about where to place different touch points to interact with visitors as they make their way around the neighborhood — the creation of those “Instagrammable moments.”
“With Hyde Park Village, the canvas was already here. It was, where are those moments within this where we can create that?” she said. “With Water Street, we can conceptualize that from the beginning. It also gives you more pressure because you have this one moment and opportunity to do it.”
Within Sparkman Wharf, the shipping containers that house new concepts from nine Tampa chefs feature Tampa-centric, brightly colored murals. There’s also a space that SPP is internally calling “the selfie wall,” though Soriano didn’t want to say what that will look like.
The developer is hoping, she said, that it becomes as iconic as the Tampa mural on North Franklin Street or Nashville’s “What Lifts You” painting of wings.
Small white lights are strung along the row of shipping containers that make up the wharf’s dining garden, creating a cool, urban backdrop; even the food, like fried buffalo chicken sandwiches oozing melted blue cheese and square, bubbling Detroit-style pizzas beg to be photographed.
The wharf’s Instagram strategy will be ongoing, Soriano said. The wharf and Water Street have a major public art aspect, and Soriano said plans are in the works to bring temporary immersive art exhibits to the wharf — things like the Museum of Ice Cream, which had a pop-up in Miami Beach last year, or The Beach, which turned Amalie Arena into a giant ball pit for adults, filled with more than 1 million pearlescent orbs.
The Beach was sponsored by the Vinik Family Foundation, which has brought other major art exhibits to Tampa, including Yayoi Kusama’s “Love is Calling,” an infinity room on display at Tampa Museum of Art through February. Penny Vinik has told the TBBJ that she’s looking forward to helping create the public art experience within Water Street.
Creating Insta-worthy moments is certainly part of the public art component within Water Street, Soriano said. But there’s more to it than that.
“It’s also about exposure, for people who may not have exposure to art on a daily basis,” she said.
And as an added bonus, maybe visitors will post photos of that public art on Instagram — creating just enough FOMO to draw even more people to Water Street.
“At Sparkman Wharf, opening this weekend in downtown Tampa, Instagram is as important as the nuts and bolts of commercial real estate” – Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)
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.
Urban Excellence Awards 2018
Thursday, November 29, begins 6pm Armature Works The Urban Excellence Awards event gives the downtown community a fun and social occasion to recognize the pioneers, trailblazers and Downtown champions that have contributed to the success, transformation and revitalization of Tampa’s Downtown. This event celebrates the extraordinary people, businesses, programs and projects that make downtown a great place to live, work and play. Each year an awards jury representing a cross-section of downtown constituencies selects award winners who have made significant contributions that have made a lasting and positive impact on Downtown. Awardees are honored for their leadership, innovation, hard work, talent, and community spirit. For more information, go to Urban Excellence Awards 2018.
Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony
Friday, November 30, begins 6pm Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park Enjoy a beautiful evening along the river at Tampa’s top tree lighting ceremony. The evening will include a countdown to light the tree with Mayor Buckhorn and a free movie in the park. Blankets, low back chairs, coolers and dogs on leashes are allowed. Concessions will be available as well. Admission for this event is free. For more info, go to Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Tampa Theatre Outdoor Holiday Classics – The Santa Clause
Friday, November 30, begins 7:30pm Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park Tampa Theatre will build on the success of last year’s Holiday Classics film series in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park by returning to the park this yuletide season, thanks to a new presenting sponsor, the F.E. Lykes Foundation. Bringing its massive 40-foot screen and high-intensity projector back to the Great Lawn, Tampa Theatre will present The Santa Clause. This screening will take place after Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, presented by Friends of Tampa Recreation. The event is free and open to the public. Lawn seating is first-come, first-served, so please don’t forget to bring blankets or folding lawn chairs. For more info, go to Tampa Theatre Outdoor Holiday Classics – The Santa Clause.
Taking the Stage at the Straz Center
Patel Conservatory presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – Thursday, November 29 to Sunday, December 2 Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus – Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 2 Glenn Beck LIVE – Addicted to Outrage Tour – Friday, November 30, begins 8:30pm Eden Shireen – Live & Local – Saturday, December 1, begins 6:30pm
On the Marquee at Tampa Theatre
Boy Erased (2018) – Through Tuesday, November 27 Movie Bingo on #GivingTuesday – Tuesday, November 27, begins 5pm An Evening with Louise Penny – Wednesday, November 28, begins 7:30pm Kevin O’Leary Live – Wealth Retreat – Thursday, November 29, begins 5pm A Christmas Story (1983) – Sunday, December 2, 3pm to 4:30pm
This Week at Amalie Arena
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Anaheim Ducks – Tuesday, November 27, begins 7:30pm Elton John: Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour – Wednesday, November 28, begins 8pm Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Buffalo Sabres – Thursday, November 29, begins 7:30pm
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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