With Gas Worx groundbreaking, Kettler enters Tampa Bay market

The long-anticipated Gas Worx project officially kicked off construction with a groundbreaking ceremony Monday that included Tampa touches like hand-rolled cigars. 

The 50-acre mixed-use redevelopment project is Ybor City developer Darryl Shaw’s vision to remake an area of vacant and older industrial properties between Ybor Historic District and the Channel District into a vibrant mixed-use community. Gas Worx also marks Washington D.C. area real estate developer Kettler’s entry into the Tampa Bay market as Shaw’s partner on the project.

Kettler officials met Shaw through connections on the Water Street Tampa development team who used to work with D.C. area developer JBG Smith. They shared a vision for what Gas Worx could be and Shaw decided to bring Kettler on board. During Monday’s event to celebrate the start of construction, Kettler founder and CEO Bob Kettler shared some insights on what attracted the firm to Tampa when they were looking to expand their Florida presence beyond the Orlando area, where their projects include the Delamarre apartment development in Celebration.

“Tampa’s metrics are undeniable,” Kettler says. “It was first on our list because it’s the top U.S. city with what our business requires for success - including strong in-migration and high job growth, a great job base, talent, particularly in tech, great climate, low taxes, fantastic lifestyle and relative affordability. In short, Tampa’s attributes compare to major gateway cities.”

Kettler also points to what the firm brings to Gas Worx, specifically extensive experience in complex mixed-use projects, including office and retail redevelopment at three D.C. area malls to make better use of their sprawling parking lots. In the Mid-Atlantic region, the company has also done mixed-use redevelopment projects at three older office and industrial properties that had “lived through their functional life cycle,” Kettler says, a similar scenario to Gas Worx. The company’s portfolio also includes high-rise projects such as the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center Hotel and Residences, which reaches 38 stories and 508 feet.

“Gas Worx has a piece of every one of those projects,” Kettler says.

Once Kettler got involved with Gas Worx, the company opened a Tampa office off Seventh Avenue in Ybor City and brought in a senior leadership team with experience on similar projects. Graham Tyrrell, the company’s senior vice president and senior manager for Gas Worx, has moved to Tampa. 

During the Monday event, Tyrrell says the first phase of Gas Worx now starting construction will have 317 apartments and 2,500 square feet of retail space. It is expected to be completed in early 2024. 
Tyrrell says Ybor firm Curts Gaines Hall Jones Architects’ design for the building was inspired by the “simple elegance” of Ybor’s historic cigar factories. He says the development team also hopes it’s a local business that fills the 2,500-square-foot retail space. 

This first phase is just the start of a major transformation, Tyrrell says. After that, the next phase will add four buildings and 800 residential units and convert an old brick warehouse off Channelside Drive into a mixed-use hub with office space, retail and restaurants.

Tyrrell says that, beyond the numbers, Gas Worx is about connecting neighborhoods and people, bringing in jobs and adding retail, including small local businesses. Keeping with Shaw’s vision for Ybor City, the arts will have a presence. Gas Worx will also add park and greenspace to a former industrial area lacking it. There will also be a new TECO Line Streetcar stop along Channelside Drive.

At build-out, Gas Worx is planned to have nearly 5,000 residences, more than 500,000 square feet of office space and more than 140,000 square feet of new retail. Plans include more than 300 units of affordable housing. 
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Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.