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Jeff Vinik-backed construction material firm headed to Port Tampa Bay

TAMPA — With $3 billion in construction on the boards, Water Street Tampa will need a lot of concrete, so a company whose largest investor is Jeff Vinik is moving to Port Tampa Bay to begin importing fly ash, a component of concrete.

Spartan Materials of Tampa ultimately plans to import up to 350,000 tons a year of fly ash and similar materials, most of it from coal-fired power plants on the western coast of India, to 6.6 acres on the eastern side of the port.

"Jeff has a big project going on here at Water Street Tampa ... so as a result we found an opportunity to partner with some of the existing cement companies here in the market to bring in ash and slag that will help them with the operations as they build these facilities," Spartan Materials president and CEO Geoffrey Mather told port board members.

Vinik has partnered with Bill Gates through the Microsoft founder’s Cascade Investment personal wealth fund to develop Water Street Tampa. Project plans include a medical school building for the University of South Florida, three Marriott hotels, 1,500 apartments and condominiums, a grocery store, gym, a new home for the Museum of Science and Industry, office buildings and about 50 stores and restaurants — a total of 3.5 million square feet of development in the first phase, which is scheduled to be complete in 2021.

RELATED COVERAGE: Water Street Tampa expects to have 10 buildings under construction within a year

Spartan’s arrival is new business for the port, with rents starting around $166,000 a year, and the company’s operations are going to an area created by filling in 23 acres along Causeway Boulevard.

"This is another example of Mr. Vinik being involved in this community in a positive way, and certainly those of us at the port appreciate his participation," board chairman Stephen Swindal said. "He could have gone somewhere else."

VIDEO: The vision for Water Street Tampa

Initially, Spartan plans to lease a 65,000-square-foot warehouse on Hooker’s Point and will start bringing in fly ash in 3,000-pound bags, Mather said. The new facility that Spartan plans to build will have rail and truck pickups, with the intention of distributing materials into south and central Florida as well as in the Tampa Bay area.

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In an unrelated vote, the port board agreed to spend about $2.1 million to buy 19.1 acres of land along U.S. 41 near Port Redwing in Gibsonton. The port plans to use the land for a road that to connect two pieces of property it already owns: 110 acres at South Bay east of U.S. 41 and 150 acres with deep-water berths at Port Redwing.

The sellers are Swei Nu Chen Hsu and Chen Fong Hung of Huntington Beach, Calif. The appraised value of the land is $2.3 million. The purchase price is $2.025 million. The port also will pay a brokerage fee of $60,750 to CBRE, whose California office helped arrange the deal, a longtime goal of the port.

"We’ve been trying to buy that property in Port Redwing since I’ve been on the board for eight years," port board member Patrick Allman said.

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

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