While the eyes of the Tampa Bay commercial real estate world are fixed on the future of the 86-acre Tropicana Field site in St. Petersburg, just to the north, in Pasco County, Moffitt Cancer Center has embarked on what might be a more impressive — and, in some ways, more impactful and transformational — construction project.
Dubbed Speros FL, the project, when fully complete decades from now, will be a 775-acre biotech and life sciences research, innovation, and treatment center located at 16828 Ridge Road in Land O’ Lakes.
What’s in a Name?
The word Speros is a derivative of the Latin verb “sperare,” meaning “to hope” or to “look forward to.” Grounded by principles of accelerated advancement, collaboration, and high-quality care, Moffitt says Speros represents the future of revolutionary cancer treatment.
Featuring 140 buildings with a total of 16 million square feet of lab, office, manufacturing, and clinical space, it will be anchored by Moffitt facilities but, according to David de la Parte, Moffitt Cancer Center’s executive vice president, general counsel and executive sponsor of Speros FL, as much as 85 percent of the campus could be available for development by private industry.
“The goal,” de la Parte says, “is to create an ecosystem of the best and brightest companies and workforces in cancer and other diseases, in research and innovation, and in patient care. It will be an accelerator for discovery and for advances in science and access to the newest technologies.”
Moffitt, de la Parte says, spent nearly 15 years looking for the right property for Speros FL, but came up short in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. As luck would have it, Metro Development Group is creating an immense master-planned community — more of a city, really — called Angeline in Pasco County.
Angeline’s 6,000 acres are being developed with a high priority on health and wellness (some of its features include a community farm, wildlife corridor, miles of bike paths, STEM magnet school, and a new regional park), making Speros FL an ideal addition, and Moffitt was approached by Lennar Homes, which is building residential sections of Angeline, with an opportunity to buy a large parcel in the property’s southwest corner. Moffitt jumped at it, paying $25 million for the 775 acres.
“Of course, locating the land and acquiring it was important,” de la Parte says. “But the thing that made this project happen was the state of Florida and Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, and over half a billion dollars in construction funding for the roads and infrastructure, our research buildings, and our proton therapy facility. Moffitt on its own would not be able to do this.”
Phase 1A of the project is expected to be completed by 2028 and will consist of $600 million in spending from Moffitt, the state of Florida, and Pasco County, and $1 billion from private-sector partners. A total of 1.5 million square feet, including 650,000 square feet of facilities, will be developed during that time, including at least 300,000 square feet of dedicated research space. About 5,000 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created during the project’s first phase, de la Parte says, adding, “Over the next 10 years, there will be approximately 9,000 new jobs.”
To put the sheer size of Speros FL into perspective, Moffitt says it expects to have about 14,000 employees working there when it’s totally built out. And that number doesn’t account for employees of other companies and organizations that will have a presence there.
“We’ve had quite a bit of unsolicited interest,” de la Parte says. “But we are also ramping up a significant sales and marketing program around the campus. And we expect over the next year to have some exciting announcements.”
Excitement is already building around the $70 million highlight of Phase 1A of Speros FL — a state-of-the-art proton therapy facility. Proton therapy is a way to treat cancer that has fewer side effects than conventional radiation treatment. It’s also more precise, using high-energy protons that can target cancer cells while ignoring healthy tissue, which is particularly useful when a cancerous tumor crops up near a vital organ.
Tampa Bay is one of the only major U.S. metro areas without a proton therapy facility.
“It will be the most cutting-edge proton unit in the state,” Moffitt Cancer Center President and CEO Patrick Hwu says. “It will shred the DNA of a tumor.”
The proton therapy center and all the other innovative features of the Speros FL project couldn’t come at a better time for Floridians, Hwu adds.
“Florida has the second-highest number of cancer deaths in the country — 49,000 a year,” he says. “So, we need to work hard with other partners throughout the state. And we know that this new campus will help take our mission to the next level. It will help patients, including cancer patients, throughout the state; it will help us collaborate with many of the state’s academic institutions; and it will bring entrepreneurship and enterprise of huge economic value to Florida. This is going to be a resource for the entire state and Southeast U.S.”
Speros, FL by the Numbers:
Approximate number of Moffitt team members at project completion.
Acres of the total 775 acres to be developed, allowing for environmental preservation.
Number of buildings to be built on the site.
Miles of new road construction for the entire project.
Years in which construction is planned to complete Phase 1A of the campus.
Estimated cost of Phase 1A.
Total investment in Phase 1A by Moffitt, the state of Florida and Pasco County (includes $200 million for research, $80 million for clinical, $70 million for proton therapy and $100 million for infrastructure).
Private sector investment for Phase 1A.