City Grill

Steve Cona III

Steve Cona III
ABC Florida Gulf Coast

“Right now, there’s quite a buzz in the AEC community here in Tampa Bay,” says Cona. “One big topic on everyone’s radar is the city’s infrastructure development plans.”

The area’s rapid population growth is fostering anticipation around upcoming projects aimed at addressing transportation, utilities and other infrastructure needs. The Tampa Bay area has grown to nearly 3.2 million people from 2.7 million in 2010, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, a steady growth of roughly 50,000 people per year.

That growth is translating to bricks and mortar as well, with Cona noting big projects including expansions at Tampa General Hospital and Tampa International Airport and the University of South Florida’s plan to build a $340-million football stadium at its Tampa campus.

City Scoop Tampa

April, USF announced its construction management team of Manhattan Construction Co., H.J. Russell & Co. and DuCon LLC for the project, designed by Populous Architects. The 615,000-sq-ft, 35,000-seat stadium will host both USF football and women’s lacrosse teams as well as community events when completed in 2027.

The Florida Dept. of Transportation is also keeping busy in the area. The nearly $600-million Gateway Expressway project is nearing completion on the west side of Tampa Bay. The Archer Western-de Moya joint venture began constructing two four-lane tolled roadways to connect US 19 and Interstate 275 in 2017.

Tampa International Airport has multiple projects in the works as well, including expansions at its main terminal and at several airsides to update older buildings and improve facilities.

Currently underway is the Red Side expansion, according to the airport’s website, which will function much the same as the airport’s Blue Side project, which earned the airport and contractor Hensel Phelps an ENR Southeast Best Project award in 2022. Once complete, travelers who don’t need to check baggage and have their boarding passes can go directly to the main terminal. That main terminal level is also growing to add new retail space and shuttle platform area for future expansions.

1970s-era administration building

Columns from the airport’s 1970s-era administration building are prepared for demolition.
Photo courtesy Tampa International Airport

“Overall, the construction business in Tampa is thriving, and we expect it to continue on this trajectory,” Cona says. “Despite challenges like supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, demand remains strong, driven by population growth and economic development initiatives.”

In terms of trends, he adds, sustainability and resilience are becoming increasingly important, with a growing emphasis on green building techniques and designs that can withstand impacts of extreme weather events.

The Tampa market has been steadily growing compared with last year, Cona says, with the city’s robust economy and favorable business environment continuing to attract investment across multiple sectors, including residential, commercial and infrastructure, while rising interest rates are leading to a slight slowing of private projects.

Health care and mixed-use projects are the most active in Tampa, he says, though there’s still plenty of work in commercial development, especially in the downtown area.

“Overall, the construction business in Tampa is thriving, and we expect it to continue on this trajectory.”
—Steve Cona III, President/CEO ABC Florida Gulf Coast

The robust activity is occurring despite the added headwinds of labor shortages, rising material costs and regulatory hurdles that Cona says are the main challenges.

“Finding skilled workers has been a persistent issue, and we’re continuously exploring innovative solutions to address this challenge,” he says. “Additionally, navigating regulatory processes for permitting and inspections can sometimes slow down project timelines and increase costs.”

Looking ahead, Cona says firms in the Tampa area are anticipating continued growth and evolution in the local market as the city continues to expand and diversify.

“We may see increased focus on smart city initiatives, digital technologies and collaboration among stakeholders to drive sustainable development and economic prosperity,” he says.