The City of Tampa has joined with real estate developers to become the first U.S. city to design a district with public health as the driving principle. Every aspect of the 40-acre waterfront area — its buildings, walkability, low-pollen trees and more — is intended to make its inhabitants live healthier lives.
The partners in the effort are New York-based Delos, which, according to its website, “places health and wellness at the center of design and construction decisions,” and Strategic Property Partners, which owns the downtown land.
“More than half of all people in the world now live in cities, and we spend 90 percent of our time indoors,” said Paul Scialla, founder of Delos, in a press release. “The built environment — our cities — are human habitat, and we have the knowledge to design them to sustain our health, not to harm it.”
After making a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to create guidelines for health-focused building design, Delos developed what it calls the Well Building Standard. Once finished, the district would be granted “Well Certification,” with office space and residences constructed will inhabitants’ health in mind. Think everything from air and water quality to optimal lighting and comfort. There will be a new hotel, an office tower, retail space and the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.
In its report on the deal, Tampa Bay Business Journal points out the move is also about economic development.
Vinik, who is working to lure a corporate headquarters to anchor the district, said Tuesday that the wellness focus is a “major selling point” for potential tenants.
“Not only among millennials, but all age groups these days, health and wellness is a major item that people are focusing on and care about,” Vinik said. “Some of the companies we’ve talked to are already aware of Delos and some of them aren’t, but in every single case it has if nothing else piqued their interest.”
Beyond the buildings, other plans are being laid out for the area, including better walkability, more green space, sound barriers to cut down on noise pollution, air quality monitoring and green infrastructure. According to the Tampa Bay Times, SPP “estimates there will be $20 million in public and private funds invested on health- and wellness-focused technologies and design strategies,” with the city’s contribution in the infrastructure area like bike paths and better sidewalks.
Phase one, in what’s expected to eventually be a $2 billion project, is set to begin next year.
“Together, we will demonstrate that city design — not just building design — can be healthy and sustainable, making Tampa a leader in the wellness industry and our downtown, a destination,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “We look forward to participating with our partners Delos and SPP to play a role in crafting a WELL Community Standard that will become the basis for similar projects in other cities.”
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.