Tampa !p 2021 State of Uptown: Continued transformation of North Tampa

North Tampa neighborhoods surrounding the University of South Florida (USF) continue evolving as new developments spring up at places like AdventHealth Tampa and James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, where new bed towers and research centers will provide improved and expanded care to patients; down the street, Yuengling is building a multimillion-dollar hotel and entertainment complex.
And at the epicenter of this growth in the Uptown District of Tampa is RITHM, a 100-acre mixed-use transformation of the former University Mall on Fowler Avenue into a nerve center of innovation. These are among the many happenings in the USF area, as recently announced at the Tampa !p 2021 State of Uptown event held at RITHM on Thursday, May 20.

The Uptown District has been witnessing an unprecedented concentration of major private-public investments totaling over $1 billion over just the past few years.

Innovation thought leaders and socioeconomic influencers are descending upon the community to infuse new life and cutting-edge opportunities in neighborhoods that for decades faced blight and poverty just steps away from tourism magnets like Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, and the Museum of Science and Industry.
One of the most recent changes in the North Tampa area is the topping off of Moffitt Cancer Center’s new 10-story inpatient surgical hospital on Malcolm McKinley Drive, a $400 million expansion of the hospital’s campus that is slated to open in July 2023. 

Meanwhile, Dean Dr. Robert Bishop of the USF Institute of Applied Engineering, an arm of the USF College of Engineering located at RITHM, heralded its $85 million partnership with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to build a pipeline of diverse talent recruits for engineering opportunities at SOCOM’s headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base and elsewhere. 

Diamond View Founder and CEO Tim Moore showed off his innovative filming studio at RITHM. That’s where a special, curved screen measuring 20 feet tall and 100 wide and made of LED displays known as VU panels enable Mercedes Benz, Gatorade, the Atlanta Braves, and other well-known organizations to create visually stunning commercials using immersive digital technology. The digital film studio allows clients to shoot commercials in an endless array of virtual environments that appear photorealistic on-screen, helping production companies save hugely on expenses and eliminate logistics nightmares that might be faced by sending entire film crews to shoot on location in distant, exotic, or dangerous locales.  

Elsewhere at RITHM, where a Sears department store once stood since 1975, a 20-story crane hoists concrete panels in place to construct a new structure that will provide ample parking spaces for individuals working at and visiting future developments at the evolving community hub. Among the next projects to unfold at RITHM are a world-class hotel, new apartments, technology labs, and entertainment venues.  

“I want to thank RD Management for the vision they had and the faith they had that the place we’re in right now, standing in, could become so much more than it was,” says Tampa Innovation Alliance (!p) Executive Director Mark Sharpe of the company that owns and operates RITHM. “We all spent time here [at University Mall]...” he reminisced during the State of Uptown presentation. “I used to come to Dunderbak’s [German American restaurant] all the time as a student. But to see what RD Management has been able to do and how they turned this 100 acres of property into something new -- it’s just amazing.”

To learn more, visit the Tampa !p website and Rithm at Uptown.

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Read more articles by Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a freelance writer who was born and raised in Tampa. He earned his BA in English from the University of South Florida and spent more than three years as a full-time copywriter for a local internet marketing firm before striking out on his own to write for various blogs and periodicals, including TheFunTimesGuide, CoinValue and COINage magazine. He has also authored local history books, including Images of America: Tampa's Carrollwood and Images of Modern America: Tampa Bay Landmarks and Destinations, which are two titles produced by Arcadia Publishing.