The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Tampa
ArX Creative The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Tampa

Tampa, Florida, is expanding at a rapid pace these days, with an array of new developments adding to the already vibrant culture and community.

Nick Perez, president of condominium development, Related Group
NICK GARCIA Nick Perez, president of condominium development, Related Group

Miami-based Related Group is one of the developers behind this renaissance, recently making a game-changing $1.5 billion investment in the city through a diverse range of housing options from affordable workforce housing to ultra-luxury boutique residences.

The crowning jewel of Related’s investment in Tampa is The Ritz-Carlton Residences, set on the iconic Bayshore Boulevard. The project marks the first collaboration between The Ritz-Carlton and Related. However, the prominent developer also has committed itself to adding thousands of affordably priced and mixed-income units to the community.

We sat down with Nick Perez, president of condominium development for Related Group, to learn more about what’s happening in Tampa.

What compelled you to invest this much into Tampa?

Related first entered the Tampa market in the early 2010s, drawn to the area for its unique waterfront location, robust job market, and long-term growth potential.

We’re looking forward to seeing how the city will continue to grow and evolve, both as a lifestyle destination but also as a strong, diverse community where everyone—no matter their background— has the opportunity to thrive.

Tampa has a huge draw for renters. When planning residential projects, how do you balance marketing toward investors versus end users?

Our development process always begins by engaging our target buyers and working to understand exactly what they’re looking for. From there, we work with our design and architecture teams to ensure the project exceeds the needs of even the most discerning buyers.

With The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Tampa, for example, we set out to target a diverse buyer pool, including brand loyalists as well as newcomers eager to experience Ritz-Carlton’s best-in-class amenities and services. We were quickly able to see our target demographics were looking for primary residences, which allowed us to better curate the property to match their desired lifestyles.

Other projects, like our NoMad Residences Wynwood development in Miami, are much more geared toward a potential investment audience. These units are much smaller and come fully furnished, allowing them to be seamlessly listed on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

Ultimately, each of our projects has a clear end user in mind. We build everything around that intended audience and do our best to anticipate their every need.

What was the design process for The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Tampa? What inspired the look and feel of the building?

Working closely with the renowned architects at Arquitectonica and the award-winning interior designers from Meyer Davis Studio, we set out to design an extraordinary lifestyle experience rooted in The Ritz-Carlton brand. The design team’s efforts yielded a residential product that immerses buyers in The Ritz-Carlton lifestyle, giving them the opportunity to essentially live in their favorite hotel year-round.

Inspired by the city’s prime waterfront location, the interiors weave together Tampa Bay’s historic charm and coastal surroundings. Genuine wood, natural stone, warm lighting, and textured elements were handpicked to create an atmosphere deeply ingrained in comfort. Soaring floor-to-ceiling windows and oversized terraces were incorporated to maximize natural light and offer breathtaking vistas of Hillsborough Bay and downtown Tampa. Outdoors, an oversized rooftop terrace, complete with a generously sized bar, captures the impeccable service that is intrinsic to Ritz-Carlton–branded properties.

What amenities or extra features sets The Ritz-Carlton Residences apart from other luxury communities? Why did you choose those specific amenities and features?

Related was at the forefront of the branded residences trend and continues to expand its roster of projects that offer the ultimate hospitality-driven living experience. The Residences’ curated experience begins with a wealth of services and resort-style amenities, designed to surpass the standards set by even the most prestigious luxury resorts.

Panoramic waterfront views, a sports simulation room, on-demand spa services, 24/7 concierge, in-unit elevators, and tennis and pickleball courts are just some of the curated lifestyle offerings that blur the lines between hotel and condominium living. Our state-of-the-art fitness centers are equipped with cutting-edge equipment, providing residents with a top-notch facility for their wellness journey. Our resort-style pools offer an oasis of relaxation, complete with cabanas and lounging areas for unwinding in style.

Each amenity has been carefully selected to meet the desires and lifestyles of our residents, creating an ambiance of unparalleled luxury. Our approach seems to be paying off, with The Residences’ first tower now fully sold-out and sales on the second well underway.

What role is Related taking in the redevelopment at West River?

Related is proud to be a driving force behind this transformation, contributing to Tampa's growth and serving as a national example of how public-private partnerships can address critical housing needs and foster community empowerment. This ambitious project, spanning 44 acres, envisions a complete revitalization of the area, introducing over 1,700 mixed-income residences, including affordable, workforce, market-rate rentals, and for-sale offerings.

Beyond housing, the community will incorporate 250,000 square feet of commercial and office space, extensive green areas, and more, transforming West River into a fully functioning and vibrant neighborhood. Through extensive community outreach and partnerships with organizations like Urban Land Institute (ULI), we've listened to the needs and priorities of residents. We've ensured that the redevelopment preserves the heritage of this historic neighborhood while introducing modern amenities and housing options that enhance the quality of life for all residents, from affordable to market-rate housing.

Our dedication to mixing incomes, generations, and cultures reflects our mission to create a truly thriving ecosystem in West River. The successful early phases of this project have already had a positive impact on the area, breathing new life into it and setting an example for other cities facing similar challenges.

Is building a fair mix of affordable and luxury housing projects something that’s important to Related? Why?

We are deeply committed to fostering diverse and inclusive communities that cater to a wide spectrum of residents. This approach aligns seamlessly with our vision of responsible development, contributing to the resilience and stability of local housing markets.

We inspire our teams to stay true to the company’s founding promise to “build better cities.” We want them to focus on creating diverse, thriving communities for generations to come. Our mixed-income projects, exemplified by initiatives like the transformative 13-phase West River development in Tampa, serve as models for cities grappling with housing affordability challenges, embodying our commitment to transforming neglected areas into thriving, socially diverse, and safe neighborhoods that communities can cherish.

To date, Related and its partners have delivered a total of 783 units across six phases of West River (Renaissance, Mary Bethune, and Boulevards). These units include senior housing, as well as public, affordable, and market-rate. Once complete, the new West River neighborhood will be unrecognizable and feature more than 1,700 mixed-income residences, including affordable, workforce, market-rate rentals and for-sale offerings.

Similarly, the nearby Rome Yards development will bring a total of 954 units across a wide range of affordability. The first phase is projected to consist of 306 units (affordable, workforce, and unrestricted), and we expect to commence in the third quarter of 2024.

Building a fair mix of affordable and luxury housing products is not just a business strategy for Related; it's our pledge to create neighborhoods that enhance the quality of life for all residents while making positive contributions to the cities we are privileged to serve.

How do you keep prices down when developing affordable/workforce housing?

Having such a wide variety of projects allows Related to leverage economies of scale, which in turn helps lower costs and improve overall quality. Our unique, vertically integrated structure also allows us to handle nearly every facet of development for our affordable products in-house. That includes everything from design and architecture to construction and property management.

We also continue to partner with the local, state, and federal government to access incentives and grants that offset some of the construction costs, but definitely not all. It’s all part of our commitment to build better cities.

Does Related consider itself a community builder? Why?

Related’s commitment to the community and the arts is a hallmark of its corporate identity. The firm touts not one but two philanthropies, the Jorge M. Perez Family Foundation and the Related Philanthropic Foundation, both of which support various community and arts-focused causes.

We view our role as extending beyond just constructing physical structures; it's about creating thriving, inclusive neighborhoods that enhance the quality of life for residents and contribute positively to the cities we serve. We actively engage with community, residents, and stakeholders to ensure our projects align with the unique character and aspirations of each neighborhood.

In Tampa, Related recently bestowed a sculpture by the late Colombian artist Fernando Botero to the city and a $1 million cash gift to the Tampa Museum of Art. Related is also investing over $8 million in improvements for the Riverwalk to create a new pedestrian underpass under the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge.