Water Street Tampa earns honor for focus on health, wellness

Water Street Tampa’s neighborhood-wide focus on health and wellness is earning precedent-setting accolades for its urban design and development now under construction.

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public-benefit corporation working to improve health and well-being in buildings and communities, has recognized the 56-acre mixed-use development on Tampa’s waterfront with a WELL Design & Operations designation under its WELL Community Standard.

Water Street is the first neighborhood in the world to achieve the designation, which recognizes developments for design and policy actions that improve the lives of residents in areas such as air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, sound, mind, and temperature.

“Our vision for Water Street Tampa has always started with people,” says James Nozar, CEO of Water Street Tampa developer Strategic Property Partners. “We aim to create a place that enables people to live the best life possible -- whether they’re a resident within Water Street Tampa, someone who works in the neighborhood, a guest or a visitor. We consider it our responsibility to develop places that facilitate environmental and physical health, social interactions and community connections. These are all of the things that make a city a great place to live, work, and visit. Thus, this is why we chose to pursue the WELL Community designation and LEED-ND certification. We believe that if we do these things, we’ll create long-term value for the neighborhood and Tampa Bay overall. With this as our foundation, we hope to lead by example, creating a new standard for responsible development that focuses on the overall wellbeing of the people whose lives we touch -- and hopefully, inspire others to do the same.”

Strategic Property Partners’ health and wellness-focused initiatives include promoting walkability with sidewalks ranging from 14 to 45 feet in width and street blocks scaled to improve pedestrian connectivity. Activities such as yoga in the park promote physical activity. Health measures include publicly available air quality monitoring data, filtered water bottle refilling stations, dimming public lighting in some areas to reduce light pollution and using light-colored pavement and tree canopy to reduce heat.

In addition, fountains help to moderate microclimate temperatures, recycling is available throughout the development and landscaping features native plants. There is free public WiFi for digital connectivity, public art and culture programming, a community wellness center, with a demonstration kitchen to promote healthy cooking options and, in the future, a full-service neighborhood grocer with fresh foods.

Nozar says the size and scale of Water Street provided Strategic Property Partners a unique opportunity to develop take a comprehensive strategy for health and wellness that will help attract residents and businesses.

“We have tried to be thoughtful and holistic in our approach to planning, design and how we will operate the neighborhood over the long-term,” he writes in an email to 83 Degrees. “The scale of Water Street Tampa itself -- spread over 20 blocks and literally doubling the size of downtown Tampa in a diverse mix of uses and building forms -- allows us to think and operate much differently than most other one-off development projects and even other neighborhoods. Thus, instead of a series of one-off amenities or programs, we’re able to think much bigger -- at the neighborhood level. Things like the sizes of our neighborhood blocks and width of streets and sidewalks affect the human perception of a comfortable, walkable environment. Also, the placement, size, and programming of neighborhood parks and plazas, as well as a comprehensive cultural and public art plan, will create wonderful neighborhood gathering places. While many of these things will be subconscious to many people, we do believe they will create a livable neighborhood that people will want to live and work in, and visit. Thus, the neighborhood and its collection of public spaces are primary drivers in how we’re planning to attract -- and retain -- residents and businesses.”

Strategic Property Partners was also a driving force behind the creation of the WELL Community Standard. In September 2015 company representatives joined President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative to make a commitment to incorporating wellness and sustainability throughout the development.

Here are links to learn more about the organizations featured in this story: International Well Building Institute, Water Street Tampa, Strategic Property Partners.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather and the wealth of outdoor festivals.
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