TAMPA — About six years ago, Mark Sharpe spoke with the dean of University of South Florida’s college of pharmacy. The dean said the area lacked a good place to grab a beer. But Sharpe had a place in mind.
That place was the Yuengling brewery just south of the university in Tampa. And on Monday, Sharpe — who is the director of the Tampa Innovation Partnership — spoke at a ground breaking for a new hotel and other expansions at Yuengling’s Tampa location.
“I knew that what we had here, in the raw, was a diamond, and that this university area could take off,” Sharpe said.
Despite hits to the tourism industry during the pandemic, Yuengling plans to add a 15-story hotel to its Tampa location, as well as a restaurant, concert pavilion, gift shop and outdoor beer garden to its grounds.
The project is scheduled to be completed by early 2022, with the hotel projected to open a year later. Alliant Partners is developing the project, with design managed by Alfonso Architects and construction run by Miller Brothers.
Jen Yuengling, vice president of operations and part of the 6th generation of family members to lead it, said the pandemic allowed the company to step back and reevaluate its plans for the expansion, which it hopes will be completed by the time the tourism industry has rebounded.
“I think in some ways it was a godsend in that we didn’t have this already completed and then would be suffering,” she told the Tampa Bay Times.
Since the company first filed plans for expansion in 2019, and after the outbreak of COVID-19, the project has pivoted to focus more on outdoor spaces and sanitation, Yuengling said. Renderings for the project show modern, wide-open spaces with plenty of wood paneling and grays.
The company has two other breweries besides the one in Tampa. Both are located in Pottsville, Pa. where the company is based. It purchased its more than 350,000 square foot Tampa location from Stroh Brewing Company in 1999.
Yuengling believes the hotel will draw from a wide range of demographics, such as professionals with Moffitt Cancer Center, academics visiting USF and families visiting Busch Gardens. The Tampa brewery at 11111 N 30th Street is located near them all, as well as within 30 minutes from other destinations like ZooTampa and the Florida Aquarium.
“Our brewery falls centrally in the development zone, the focus of revitalization efforts and also around the city’s leading education, technology and entertainment enterprises,” Yuengling said during a speech at Monday’s groundbreaking.
Tampa District 7 city councilman Luis Viera connected the hotel to a wider trend of development in the North Tampa area.
“I always say that something that the North Tampa area, the USF area needs, is