Construction for the new SkyCenter One broke ground in late 2019. While the global pandemic has changed, and derailed, a lot in the world, this project is still on track to open this summer.
VanTrust Real Estate, a privately held commercial development group based in Kansas City, is the developer of the SkyCenter One project.
“We’ve always been looking for an opportunity in Tampa,” says John Carey, executive vice president for Florida for VanTrust Real Estate.
SkyCenter One is a Class-A, 270,000-square-foot office building project on Tampa International Airport property.
TIA needed a company to plan, and develop, the project in addition to leasing out the balance of the building. VanTrust started on the project three years ago.
“We obviously were excited about this project being in Tampa but, honestly, the Tampa Westshore office market is probably the strongest suburban office market outside of South Florida,” Carey says. “With the airport being there, it makes it a tremendous submarket.”
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority will take up about 110,000 square feet in SkyCenter One, leaving about 160,000 square feet to be leased.
The Aviation Authority is moving to the new building in phases, with the first batch of employees transitioning to the new space in spring 2022, with all employees expected to be moved into SkyCenter by summer 2022, according to TIA spokesman Danny Valentine.
“While COVID-19 may, or may not, be an issue when we move in we have taken the pandemic into careful consideration and have made some fundamental changes to our office design as a result,” Valentine says. “First, and foremost, we have transitioned permanently to partial work from home, allowing us to reduce the number of workstations on our floors. The reduction has allowed us to increase the space between workstations and to adjust the configuration of desks to allow for social distancing between seated employees.”
There are three other tenants signed on for space taking up about 15,000 square feet.
So far, those tenants include the companies working on the project, such as J.E. Dunn, SkyCenter’s general contractor, which is moving its Tampa offices to the building and Avison Young, who is handling leasing for the building.
VanTrust also plans to occupy office space, opening its Tampa office in the building.
“We’re having some very interesting conversations with a number of companies right now,” Carey says. “Certainly, COVID has caused a little bit of a pause. Many companies are trying to really think about what they need [in an office space], but we feel like, at the end of the day, this building will do just fine.”
When COVID hit, the project had just gotten underway and certain changes needed to be made at that stage, like touchless entry and elevator access, Carey says.
One of the topics of discussion, of course, is with the changes that COVID brought to the workplace, how much demand will there be for new office space?
“All companies are reviewing their needs, office-wise,” Carey says. “A lot of people have been working from home and I think a lot of companies will conclude that they can have a component of their workforce working in the home.” He adds that those companies that still need office space could need more space, even with some of their workforce working from home, because people will need to be spaced out.”
There’s still room for a two or three-floor occupation on the top of the building, which would provide building signage. It’s prime real estate for signage with the number of planes landing every day and passengers seeing that company’s name.
There are also amenities galore in the new building, creating other perks of moving into the space.
“The building’s facilities will be second-to-none in the Westshore Business District including an upsized fitness center, a wellness-oriented employee café and access to a pedestrian, and cycling, trail that circles the SkyCenter One building. It will also have dedicated bike storage and dozens of charging stations for electric vehicles,” Valentine says.
Not to mention a direct connection to the No. 2-ranked airport in North America, according to a J.D. Power 2020 North American Airport Satisfaction Study.
“Florida markets are a great alternative to the northeast,” Carey says. “Once things settle out a bit, that will be a net plus for Florida suburban markets.”♦