New medical school, centerpiece of world’s first WELL Certified™ city district, breaks ground in Tampa

January 12, 2016

In December, the University of South Florida (USF) broke ground on the new Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute, scheduled to be completed by 2020. The 11-story complex, which will be adjacent to a 1,800-space parking garage and companion medical office building, will anchor the $2 billion, 40-acre mixed use development being built along downtown Tampa’s waterfront and be the centerpiece of the world’s first WELL Certified™ city district.
Developer Strategic Property Partners (SSP), a joint venture of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment, LLC, unveiled its plans to create the new district at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. Together with Delos®, founder of the WELL Building Standard®, SPP will invest more than $20 million specifically for health- and wellness-focused, state-of-the-art technologies and design strategies for the project.
The buildings in the area will also pursue WELL Certification, which is based on air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.
The project team envisions setting a new global standard for urban design that supports public health – featuring enhanced walkability, abundant green space, access to healthy foods, daily monitoring of air quality, and waterfront amenities.
“Tampa is proud to be the first city in the world to be home to a WELL Certified district and to be the pioneer for this exciting initiative,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn at the groundbreaking. “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.”
It is estimated that roughly 7,500 individuals will directly benefit from the wellness community through living and working environments. However, an additional three million people who use and visit the downtown district will be positively affected every year.
SPP and Delos cited research showing that people living in walkable, compact neighborhoods enjoy better health, including lower rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Placing a medical school in the midst of such a neighborhood reinforces the centrality of wellness for all aspects of work, life, and leisure.
With its new downtown location, the USF medical school, currently situated on its main campus eleven miles to the north, will move closer to Tampa General Hospital, its primary teaching facility. USF’s Morsani College of Medicine currently ranks among the top 100 funded by the National Institutes for Health, but is the only one among them to be more than a 25 minute drive from its main teaching hospital.