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Water Street Tampa Gets Wellness Certification — a First in North America

Water Street Tampa was awarded a health and wellness design certification that it’s been working on since its inception. The International WELL Building Institute, a corporation focusing on improving building designs, announced Wednesday that Water Street received the WELL Community Certification — which recognizes developers that design neighborhoods to promote a healthy lifestyle for residents.

It’s the first community in North America to get this designation. The certification organization calculates how design affects the quality of life for residents and visitors by accounting factors such as air, water, nourishment, light, temperature, sound, building materials and more. Water Street was the first in the world in 2019 to pilot the community wellness standards established by the International WELL Building Institute when it was expanding from building certifications to neighborhoods. New projects across China, Australia, France and New Jersey also worked to meet those standards. Now, the Tampa project has the certificate saying the development accomplished its goals.

The WELL certification highlighted Water Street’s air quality, public art, regular free events such as farmers markets and community fitness classes, new bike lanes, planting of native trees, access to drinking water with water stations, free public Wi-Fi, a GreenWise Market (set to be rebranded to a regular Publix) and ease of walkability with wider sidewalks. These design choices help improve productivity and physical and mental health, according to the International WELL Building Institute. “From the very beginning, we conceived of Water Street Tampa as a place that would honor and promote the well-being of all our residents and visitors in unique and thoughtful ways,” said developing firm chief executive officer Josh Taube in a statement.

Water Street was developed by Strategic Property Partners, a collaboration between Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. Vinik has since left the firm and sold his stake to Cascade Investment in June but maintains an advisory role. The new $3.5 billion downtown project has transformed an area once filled with empty parking lots. Since late 2020, the first phase of construction has opened, ranging from new retail businesses, office towers and luxury hotels. The neighborhood is expected to bring Tampa an economic impact worth $520 million yearly.

Water Street’s Thousand & One office tower was the first in Tampa to receive WELL’s building certification earlier this year. “By deploying WELL’s comprehensive and interdisciplinary roadmap to support human health and well-being at the community level, Water Street Tampa has secured its place as a true pioneer, serving as an inspiration for other neighborhood projects around the world,” said International WELL Building Institute president Rachel Hodgdon in a statement.