When Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's real estate venture -- Strategic Property Partners -- named James Nozar as its first CEO in March, that was a sure sign that something big was about to happen.
The remake of a 40-acre area around Amalie Arena will include an entertainment and residential district -- as well as a planned USF medical school.
Tampa Bay Business Journal reporter Ashley Kritzer landed the first interview with Nozar since he arrived. She told WUSF that residents will begin to see changes as early as this summer, when work on the infrastructure of the neighborhood begins. His previous experience is key to changing the district that’s not known for being pedestrian friendly, Kritzer said.
“His background is in retail and (creating) that street-level experience when you walk into a neighborhood. That’s especially important here because they’re not just building residential with street-level retail. That’s part of it,” Kritzer said.
“But what they really want to do is create a miniature city within the heart of downtown. To do that, they have to create a heart and soul for the development.”
For insiders, there are other clear signs the long-awaited project is gaining steam. Kritzer said the people working for Strategic Property Partners have moved out of the Amalie Arena and into their own office space In the Channelside Bay Plaza.
That’s a sign, she said, “they’re really growing up as a corporation."