There was a reason things were kept under wraps. Where some would rush to share their excitement with the public, the vision the team behind Armature Works had was constantly evolving. Every concept was tested and vetted to the last detail. When the doors to the mixed-use venue ﬁnally opened, walking through its halls gave every impression of a singular experience — a bold declaration of Tampa’s future.
“We never fully, truly ‘announced’ our project because we wanted to make sure, whatever we put out there, it was solid and set in stone,” says Taryn Bruck, co-owner and designer of Armature Works. “We went through many, many revisions after researching other markets and had a lot of people reach out to us once the word
got out, but we were very speciﬁc.”
Bruck, along with husband and SoHo Capital principal Chas Bruck, shared a vision of how a mixed-use building could serve as the cornerstone for what ultimately will encompass an entire quadrant of Tampa Heights. The building was a monumental undertaking in its own right, but as the epicenter for the property’s future, it constitutes only the ﬁrst half of phase one.
By April 2019, when the Tampa Riverwalk will be extended to the bridge at North Boulevard, the property will feature a riverside pavilion bar with a 90-foot pier and kayak rentals, in addition to the new rooftop bar M.Bird, Bruck says. Taken with Armature Works and The Pearl apartment building next door, the developments will be a major step toward creating the live-work-play neighborhood the team has envisioned since day one.
“We want to be a community-driven area. That’s always what we had talked about in creating this space,” Bruck says.
First built in 1910 to maintain Old Tampa’s trolley cars, the Armature Works had been shuttered for decades when the Brucks and SoHo Capital Principal Adam Harden began acquiring parcels of land around Tampa Heights, eventually amassing 43 acres along the Hillsborough River shoreline.
When renovating the building, Bruck says the team was highly selective of every last detail, from using the original hardwood ﬂoors to determining where certain vendors’ stalls would be located, but the end product is an awe-inspiring look at modern Tampa’s potential.
The community’s response was equally staggering. In just one year, Armature Works has counted more than a million visitors, hosting over 100,000 people at 500 private events, 97 weddings and 135 marketing events — nearly half of which took place in a span of four months.
“What continues to impress me the most is the constant reception that we’re getting from people,” says Armature Works president Frank Scalfaro. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday morning or a Friday night, I’m amazed by the diversity and that there’s always different groups of people out here.”
Scalfaro says he has a “Disney mentality” when it comes to running the facility; it’s kept immaculate, clean, safe and operating seamlessly. Maintaining services at a ﬁrst-class rate is a 24-hour job, but he uses every opportunity to examine ways of improving.
“I love walking around and seeing people experiencing such an incredible variety of food options, kids playing checkers on the front lawn, music playing in the courtyard, and a bride walking to get married in the Theater. I think it’s all incredibly motivating,” Scalfaro says.
Sharing resources while adapting to the frenetic pace of Armature Works has been a challenge for vendors, but for Swami Juice co-owner Kim Dionisio, the camaraderie has more than made up for it.
“This has given us a chance to trade notes on what distributors we’re using, or sharing produce deliveries. That’s been key,” Dionisio says. “We’re all looking at ways to funnel our businesses into certain directions, so we’re all beneﬁting from it.”
As phase one closes and phase two begins, upkeep will involve more than the facility and its surrounding property.
Of the 43 acres currently being developed by SoHo Capital, Armature Works occupies a mere fraction of it, just over 3 acres in itself. The rest is slated to become an altogether new district of Tampa Heights, with plans in the works to soon outﬁt the neighborhood with two hotels, an office park and a grocery store.
“The second phase is already being started,” says Bruck. “We know what we’re building around it — an office village, a hotel — but we’re [also] building the infrastructure that Armature will help sustain and activate while everything else is being built around it.”
Taken with the rest of Downtown Tampa’s revitalization, the developments centering around Armature Works promise to redeﬁne the future not only for the neighborhood, but for Tampa as a whole.
WHAT’S AT ARMATURE WORKS
11,000 square feet of coworking space
More than 35,000 square feet of space in eight locations
Full-service Southern-inspired chophouse with Florida-raised grass-fed beef
Oak & Ola
Full-service EuroAmerican restaurant with seasonal cuisine
Heights Public Market
Food hall with more than a dozen vendors:
Union by Commune + Co.
Coffee, tea, draft beer and wine
BAR at Armature
Craft cocktails, wine and beer
General store with locally made goods
Butcher and Barbeque (BnB)
Breakfast and brunch all day
Wood-ﬁred Neapolitan pizzas
Cold-pressed juices and acai bowls
Inside the Box
Sandwiches and salads with house-roasted meats
Wine bar with small plates
Astro Ice Cream
Design-your-own ice cream treats
Sushi rolls and burritos and poke bowls
Modern Cuban cuisine
Empanadas and tacos
Soul Food Street Kitchen
Southern soul food