Big mixed-used project has everything but a name

Jeff Vinik
Jeff Vinik

A $2 billion mixed-use development promises to reshape 40 acres of downtown Tampa. In September, contractors will start $35 million of road construction and infrastructure work for the development. Extended roads, wider sidewalks and additional on-street parking will be part of the development.

But after more than five years of planning, the development is still missing a critical component: a name.

The developers themselves have plenty of name recognition. Behind the downtown Tampa development is Strategic Property Partners (SPP), a firm formed by Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, and Cascade Investment, controlled by Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.

Sometimes news reporters refer to their development as the “Jeff Vinik project” or the “Vinik-Cascade project.” Few still call it “Vinik-ville,” a common nickname in news media reports in 2014.

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Vinik himself has called it the “Waterfront District,” and early blueprints in December 2014 identified at as “The Waterfront.” But neither has served as the formal name of the development.

The mixed-use development in downtown Tampa encompasses construction of condos, rental apartments, hotel rooms, offices, restaurants, retail stores and parks.

In January 2015, the Tampa Bay Times polled readers for suggested names, and the newspaper’s readers responded with such proposals as “Waterside” and “SoDo,” short for south of downtown.

Stephanie Darden, president at Prismatic, an Orlando-based branding and marketing firm specializing in real estate development, said in an interview with the Naples Daily News: “How do you Google it? Without a name, it means every and any bit of information related to the project is scattered. A name brings it all together.” [Naples Daily News] — Mike Seemuth