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Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, London or Dubai.

The $350 million Riverwalk Place tower would rise on one of Tampa’s most benighted pieces of real estate: the site once promoted as the future home of Trump Tower, a similarly lofty project that never happened.

As important, the team of Feldman Equities of Tampa and Two Roads Development, based in South Florida, set out a work schedule.

A sales center for the project — 50-plus stories of restaurants, offices and about 240 high-rise condominiums — will open in 60 days. Assuming sales go as planned, construction should start next year and take the better part of three years to complete.

"What we’re creating here is way more than just a building," Feldman Equities president and chief executive Larry Feldman said. "It’s going to be a destination in downtown. We think it’s going to be the front door of downtown Tampa."

RELATED STORY: South Florida company joins Tampa’s Riverwalk Place project

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For the design, Feldman and Two Roads Development turned to architects at Gensler, a firm whose projects include the 127-story Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world, and the 69-story Qianhai Shimao tower, also in China, one of the tallest "twisting" towers in the world.

"From the outset, our goal was to do more than just design another tall building," Gensler design director Shamim Ahmadzadegan said. "We wanted this, of course, to be eye-catching and iconic, but we also wanted it to engage the public in many ways."

Gensler’s design is for a tower with a footprint shaped like an arrowhead pointing southwest toward Tampa Bay. Its outwardly curving sides give nearly every office and condo a water view. The placement of the balconies — wrapping around almost all the way around the tower on the top, then less and less so on lower floors — create a three-dimensional, sail-shaped outline that’s meant to allude to Tampa’s maritime history and character.

"We noticed that you guys like your boats," said Ahmadzadegan, whose office is in Washington D.C.

Condominiums would start at the 22nd floor and take up about the 30 uppermost floors of the tower, which would be at the southwest corner of S Ashley Drive and E Whiting Street, site of the now-vacant CapTrust building. The condos would cover 1,200 or more square feet and have prices starting at $600,000 and going into the "many millions, depending on how well we do on the penthouses," Two Roads managing partner Reid Boren said.

Feldman touted the project as unlike anything Tampa has seen, though a couple of other developers are working on high-rise condo projects of their own. At Water Street Tampa, developers have unveiled plans for a 26-story condo tower. And on Bayshore Boulevard, Sarasota-based Ascentia Development Corp. is working on the Virage, a 24-story tower with 71 units, including a penthouse that went under contract for nearly $5 million.

They’re high-rises, all right, Feldman said, but not as high as Riverwalk Place.

"Buildings that are 20 to 25 stories in height is where our condos just begin," Feldman said, and Riverwalk Place’s location puts it in the middle of downtown.

BIG AMBITIONS: Developer hopes Tampa tower would ‘one-up’ Beach Drive in St. Petersburg as waterfront destination

The project also is planned to include a half-dozen restaurants, with outdoor seating next to the Riverwalk, plus:

• A plaza open to the Riverwalk and MacDill Park at the base of the tower.

• A separate residential entrance, with a doorman, plus private residential elevators that will open directly into each unit.

• Two floors of amenities, including a commercial kitchen and a dining room for 20, available only to residents.

• A parking garage with a rooftop bar and amenities, like a dog park, for residents.

• Five floors of "live-work" units on lower floors and 10 stories of office space.

Along with Gensler, developers have enlisted the Florida-based Adache Group Architects, and brought in GPB Capital Holdings LLC, a New York private equity fund with more than $1.5 billion under management, as a partner.

"These are very large bets from some very sophisticated folks that we’re really thrilled to have," Feldman said.

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In the 2000s, a different set of developers announced their own plan for a 52-story tower costing an estimated $300 million. They agreed to pay reality show celebrity Donald Trump, still years away from his run for the White House, $2 million plus a percentage of the condo sales to use his name in the project. The agreement also included a non-disclosure clause about the licensing arrangements for the use of Trump’s name.

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In the end, construction costs rose, financing evaporated and the real estate market collapsed. Nothing ever got built, despite Trump’s promise of a property "so spectacular that it will redefine both Tampa’s skyline and the market’s expectations of luxury.’’ Dozens of would-be residents had put down deposits, and some lost more than $250,000.

Boren, whose company specializes in luxury high-rises, said he knows the history.

"That," he said, "won’t happen here."

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Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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