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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

TAMPA-Figuring the best use of a triangular three-acre lot in a high-traffic area takes some doing, but two Texas developers have finally pulled it off. Granted, it took them more than three years.

Construction Management Technology has topped off its four-story, 50,000-sf office building at the point where Boy Scout Boulevard converges with Spruce Street in Tampa’s Westshore district. The class A structure will eventually be joined by an upscale 12-story hotel with 170 rooms, a parking garage and an as-yet-unnamed steakhouse.

The $65-million project, dubbed TriPointe Plaza, technically began with the CMT’s purchase of the odd-shaped lot, formerly the headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America Gulf Ridge Council, for $2.4 million in July 2004. Several developers had passed on the opportunity to buy the property by the time the Addison, TX-based company’s principals began scouting sites throughout Tampa.

“Tampa ended up being our first choice,” says Richard Roder, president of CMT. The city’s demographics and per-capita income were the biggest factors in their decision, he says, along with the fact that the area’s tourist seasons are more steady than those in other parts of Florida.

The search for a suitable site ultimately narrowed to Westshore, the city’s strongest office submarket with over 11 million sf of inventory and possibly a few million more on the way in years to come. Once CMT’s principals found their triangle, or bull’s-eye as they characterize it, they had to figure out what type of development would fit best there.

“It takes a lot of sketching and drawing,” says John McMillin, CMT’s senior VP of development and pre-construction services. He estimates going through as many as 150 variables before reaching the final office/hotel combination.

“It’s a lot like a Swiss watch: everything has to work together in unison and harmony,” he says. “Most developers wouldn’t want to touch something like this.”

Before starting construction on the office component late last year, CMT signed Synovus Bank to a long-term prelease for half the building’s space. Roder says three or four smaller tenants are being sought for the remaining floors, with GVA Advantis marketing the space with a series of hard-hat tours through mid-May.

The most appealing aspect of TriPointe Plaza, Roder says, is the hotel across the parking lot from the office building that will carry the new Element brand by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. The extended-stay hotel will feature various green amenities and will be Element’s first hotel built higher than four stories.

Las Vegas-based LaPour Partners Inc. is working with Starwood to build the prototype hotel and paid CMT $4.1 million for its segment of the site, measuring just under an acre. As a bit of a tradeoff, Reder says his firm’s “boutique” office building will avoid overshadowing LaPour’s hotel.

“It’s going to appeal to a certain group of people,” namely lawyers, accountants and other high-rent professionals, he says. “It’s a special building that requires special tenants. It isn’t intended to be a back office.”

Reder adds that he isn’t bothered by larger class A office projects under way literally within view of TriPointe Plaza, in practically all directions. Approximately 600,000 sf of new offices are under construction in Westshore, where vacancy remains in the high single digits and asking rents are exceeding the $30-per-sf mark in some cases.

“We’d like to have more high-quality development to occur around us because we feel like we have a special part within this area,” he says. “It’s a special site with a special shape, and it took special efforts to turn it into a special building.”

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