Tampa may be putting on the Ritz

The developer proposes razing a Radisson to put up a five-star hotel.

Published May 27, 2007

TAMPA -- What's billed as the first five-star hotel in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties may soon land on a renowned piece of real estate off the Courtney Campbell Parkway.

Clearwater developer Sandip Patel is close to finalizing negotiations with Ritz-Carlton to bring the high-end hotel chain to property now occupied by the Radisson Bay Harbor Hotel at Rocky Point, Tampa officials said Saturday. The Radisson would be razed.

If they reach agreement, Tampa would add a glitzy new weapon to its arsenal as it fights for conventions and tourists seeking rooms that are as luxurious as they are pricey.

"It really is an element that will make us more competitive for certain kinds of convention and tourism business," said Mark Huey, Tampa's economic development administrator.

"A five-star hotel like the Ritz-Carlton has been something that has been missing from the Tampa brand."

The $300-million project would encompass two 18-story towers and 381, 500 square feet. One tower would include 274 hotel rooms and 48 residential units, while the second would have 136 condominium units, developers told the Tampa City Council on Thursday.

Developers have previously said the hotel would have two restaurants, a spa, bar, pool and banquet hall, which would be shared by hotel guests and residents.

Developers also are applying to put a dock on the property.

"It's a pretty exciting evening for the city of Tampa," City Council member John Dingfelder said Thursday at a council meeting. "We got an Ikea on one end of town. We got a Ritz-Carlton on the other end. I'd say, if we haven't arrived before, we have now."

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has announced plans for a store off Adamo Drive near Ybor City that would employ 400 people.

Huey said developers have indicated they may know by July if the deal is done. Ground-breaking would be next year with completion coming within two years.

Ernst & Young in Miami, a hospitality consulting practice, told the St. Petersburg Times last year that building a Ritz-Carlton hotel can cost $400,000 or more per room. Under a standard rule of thumb for hotel projects, an owner would need to charge an average of at least $400 per day to recoup the investment.

The Radisson was the site of one of the bloodiest chapters in the city's history.

On Dec. 30, 1999, a hotel employee went on a shooting rampage that left four co-workers dead and three wounded, along with a woman killed for refusing to give up her car.

Times staff writer Rick Gershman contributed to this report.