Vinikville: a healthy place to live and work


 Lightning owner Jeff Vinik unveiled his $2 billion project for downtown Tampa on Tuesday, aiming to enable and promote a healthy lifestyle for those who live and work there. 

In collaboration with New York-based real estate firm Delos and Bill Gates’ personal investment fund, Cascade Investment, Vinik plans to create the first city district in the world to make residents, employees and guests healthier, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Vinikville, as some call the result of Vinik’s proposed renovations to downtown Tampa, is one in a series updates to the currently shifting infrastructure of downtown. The renovation is set to break ground in 2016.

Vinik, who purchased the Lightning in 2010 and moved to Tampa two years later, has made clear his intentions to sculpt the landscape of Tampa.

In July 2014, Vinik purchased several large plots of land around Amalie Arena, where the Lightning play, according to the Lightning website. Later, he announced plans for a retail and residential complex, as well as a hotel, near the arena. 

Last December, Vinik announced his $1 billion plan to remodel the downtown area. But with Tuesday’s update, the price has doubled, and Tampa is looking at an even more drastic change. 

The USF Morsani College of Medicine, which will be combined with the USF Health Heart Institute in a new 12-story building on the corner of Channelside Drive and Meridian Avenue, is among the projects Vinik has invested in as part of Vinikville.

In October 2013, USF brought its original proposal for a medical facility before the Board of Governors (BOG) Facilities Committee. Seven months later, the Florida Legislature passed the state’s annual budget, which included a $15 million allocation for the accompanying Heart Health Institute and $5 million for a new College of Medicine. 

Following Vinik’s land donation to the university, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to relocate the College of Medicine downtown. 

In July 2015, the Florida Legislature approved a request for another $17 million to build the facility. With a total of $56.3 million in state allocated funds and $41 million in private donations, the university is closer to reaching its $152.6 million goal for the project.

This month, USF began lobbying for another multimillion-dollar installment from the state in 2016, according to the Times. The $22.5 million could be the difference between a 2017 ground breaking and later date, USF President Judy Genshaft said at a Sept. 22 BOG meeting.

“It would not be optimal for us to delay,” she said.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the plan is described as “WELL certified,” a set of building standards which would include components like “posture supportive flooring; purified air and water; circadian lighting; … and surface coating that can address immune health in high touch areas.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has also publicly supported the project. 

“This gives us a significant leg up in terms of what that generation is looking for,” he said according to the Times. “They’re looking for a place where they can walk to work.”

And walk to work they will, with Vinik pointing to “inaccessible sidewalks” as a major issue in many cities that “contributes to inactivity, which leads to poor health outcomes,” according to the article.

With the first phase of Vinikville complete within five years, Tampa is on its way to having more to boast about than the longest continuous sidewalk.