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Living in Harmony with the Native Landscape

Discover how Water Street Tampa is blending a beautiful and balanced people-centric community with native flora in Florida, creating a sustainable, walkable, and connected neighborhood.

Originally published on Water Street Tampa

As one of the largest cities in the Sunshine State, Tampa receives more than 300 days of sunshine each year. That sun, although coveted by tourists, makes being outside difficult in the summer months and wreaks havoc on utilities. According to a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study, more than one-third of Tampa is covered by arboreal canopies— making it one of the most tree-prolific cities in the country. 

Tourists walk with luggage through Raybon Plaza in Water Street Tampa

“The health, environmental and economic benefits of a robust tree canopy and landscape are tremendous. In Water Street Tampa, we’ve made an enormous investment in the landscape for the benefit of the public who will be able to enjoy the comfort and beauty that it provides,” described Brad Cooke, Vice President of Master Planning and Special Project Development for Strategic Property Partners. 

Water Street Tampa, when complete, will be home to more than 550 new trees which will grow to maturity and enhance the living, breathing infrastructure that beautifies and builds a sustainable city. 

Cooke continues, “We’ve also pushed the boundaries of green urban infrastructure by creating numerous opportunities for rainwater to be retained onsite in “rain gardens” that will hold and naturally filter the water into the ground rather than running into and overwhelming the city’s stormwater infrastructure. As a developer working in such a special environment, we see it as our responsibility to create places that respect and nurture our surroundings.” 

Renowned landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand serves as the public realm master landscape architect for the Water Street Tampa neighborhood focused on bringing nature to land and cities to deepen people’s connection with the natural environment. 

A streetcar glides past a pedestrian down a vegetation-lined track and sidewalk in the Water Street Tampa neighborhood just outside of Heron, a residential building

“Water Street Tampa is designed for its residents, visitors and workforce, encouraging walkable streets and spaces to linger comfortably. Shaded boulevards with several rows of mature trees will host an array of public cafes, shopping and restaurants as well as unique spaces for informal gatherings and serendipitous meetings.” explained Gary Hilderbrand, Principal at Reed Hilderbrand. 

The Reed Hilderbrand team devised landscape guidelines for the selection of all plant species native to the area or well-suited for the Tampa climate limiting the need for resources such as water or fertilizers.  

Beyond the streetscapes of the Water Street Tampa neighborhood, the buildings also emanate biophilic design principles. One trophy office building, Thousand & One, features sky gardens and terraces that allow for office workers to reap the benefits of greenspaces and being outdoors during the day. 

Heron, the community’s first residential building, hosts a residential garage occupied by a green roof of native Florida vegetation improving the mental well-being of residents through visual appeal and is also functional in helping to clean air, minimize stormwater demands and reduce energy needs from heating and cooling.  

As residents and workers begin to populate the Water Street Tampa neighborhood, the attention to tree canopies is vital to ensure a thriving, maintainable and sustainable place that will grow and live on for many years to come.