TAMPA, FL — A major mixed-use development now under construction in Ybor City will bring more than 300 units of affordable housing to Tampa, the biggest private investment in affordable housing in the city’s history, along with Tampa's first indoor pickleball courts.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor joined developer Darryl Shaw and Bob Kettler, the founder and CEO of Kettler, and dozens of community leaders and elected officials Monday to mark the official groundbreaking of the 50-acre Gas Worx development in Ybor City.
“Today is a historic day for Ybor City. We needed the right partners with the right vision. Darryl Shaw and Kettler are those partners and together we are bringing more housing, more jobs and more vibrancy to this beloved neighborhood.” said Castor.
“Tampa is the most significant emerging market in Florida. We are honored to be a part of its story and find such incredible new partners here,” said Kettler. “The roots of Ybor City are grounded in stories of people from diverse backgrounds who built the foundations we build on today. We are committed to protecting and enhancing Ybor’s unique character and honoring its cherished history.”
A joint venture between Shaw and Kettler, Gas Worx is located between the Ybor Historic District and Channel District. Once complete, Gas Worx will include nearly 5,000 new homes, more than 500,000 square feet of office space and more than 140,000 square feet of new retail.
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Additionally, it will include 3.6 miles of new and reconstructed sidewalks, 1.2 miles of multi-use trails, 1.8 miles of new roads that will restore Tampa's historic street grid, a new TECO Streetcar stop along Channelside Drive as part of Tampa's popular mass transit system and two new CSX rail crossings with safety improvements.
What's significant, said Castor, is the development will connect Ybor City, the Encore District and the Channel District to downtown Tampa, continuing Castor's mission to create a pedestrian-friendly walkable city while making use of what was once an industrial site.
“We are excited to continue moving forward with a development that will not only complement and honor Ybor City’s character and rich history, but also help to connect the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Kettler Senior Vice President Graham Tyrrell. “When completed, Gas Worx will be one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Tampa, with priority given to pedestrians and bike traffic while adding needed greenspace in the city’s urban core.”
Located next to the Selmon Expressway, the site was once home to a large gas production facility owned by Tampa Electric Co. and People's Gas. It was decommissioned years ago and the property was remediated for any contaminants. Shaw said he chose the name "Gas Worx" based on the property's historic use.
Shaw said Phase I will include four- and five-story apartment buildings, including the desperately needed affordable apartments that will be connected by a pedestrian sky bridge.
Ten percent of the units will be workforce housing, representing a $3.8 million investment, replacing the dilapidated Tampa Park Apartments housing project that was demolished.
“The beauty of Ybor City is truly the people who call it home — engaged, passionate, and dedicated to this area. Today we celebrate each and every person who has left their mark here and I look forward to seeing more people call Ybor City home.” Shaw said at the ground-breaking ceremony. “Gas Worx will have a place for everyone.”
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The first 317-unit apartment development within Gas Worx is scheduled to be completed in 2024.
In 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays, in their continuing search for a new stadium, unveiled plans for a stadium on the Gas Worx site. The project was later dropped when the Rays opts to redevelop their current home at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
While a Major League Baseball isn't part of the current Gas Worx site plan, Castor said the city hasn't given up on the idea of luring the Rays to Tampa with a stadium in Ybor City as the end of the Rays' lease with Tropicana Field ends in 2027.
If that happens, Shaw said he'd be willing to accommodate the Rays.
"I don’t know what’s going to happen with Major League Baseball," he said. "I would love for them to come here, but I think that’s got to play out."
That doesn't mean the project won't include world-class sports.
The Tampa Pickleball Crew has signed a lease for the 28,000-square-foot existing warehouse at 1701 E 2nd Ave. on the Gax Worx property.
Under the terms of the lease, the warehouse will be converted into at least seven courts, with initial renovations budgeted at around $100,000. It will open in late spring or early summer, Shaw said.
The Tampa Pickleball Crew, led by co-founders Susan Forsyth, Jennifer Plummer, Dr. Dené Williamson and Kayla Goldman, said the facility will be Tampa’s first indoor establishment solely dedicated to what has quickly become the nation’s fastest-growing sport, reaching more than 36.5 million players in 2022.
The buildout will revitalize the existing 70-year-old warehouse into a covered and weather-resistant experience world-class pickleball facility with state-of-the-art lighting and sound along with fenced bays, said Goldman.
“We’re thrilled to take the passion of pickleball from retrofitted tennis courts to a custom-built
and climate-friendly experience for our athletes,” said Goldman. “Our goal is to create a fun and friendly environment for people of all skill levels to come together, socialize, and play.”
“Bringing indoor pickleball courts to Ybor seemed like a natural fit,” said Shaw. “The goal is to activate the space with a positive and healthy experience for the entire community.”
The facility's seven pickleball courts are intended for open and reserved court time, private
lessons, clinics and tournaments, and corporate/private events, Goldman said.
Members can book court time via an app daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m..
The Tampa Bay Pickleball Crew Warehouse will offer memberships ranging from four to 30 hours
of play each month, and guests can join on a drop-in basis, subject to availability. A limited
number of founding memberships will be made available in April.
The crew will give residents a chance to try the sport of pickleball when it hosts its inaugural pop-up tournament on April 1 at Cuscaden Park in Ybor City. Limited space remains. Registration is available here.