Tampa Bay Business Journal: December 6, 2013

TAMPA - In this week's Tampa Bay Business Journal segment, editor Alexis Muellner discusses the deal that allowed the Epicurean Hotel become a reality, how Tampa Bay is becoming a gastro-destination, and why the Department of Transportation wants better port cooperation.

The $40 million Epicurean Hotel is scheduled to open on December 18. It took eight years for the developers to get to this point.

The hotel concept focuses on all things foodie. It is the collaboration of a renowned restaurateur, a hospitality development veteran, and a made-to-order global eclectic hotel brand..

Just three years ago the project on South Howard Avenue in Tampa was on life support. Design changes to the scope of the project and an improving economy finally helped get the hotel off the drawing board.

The Epicurean is expected to help make the Tampa Bay region a "gastro-destination." Recently, eighteen of the top celebrity chefs took part in the St. Pete Arts and Food Festival.

"We are really making a push to being an epicurean destination," said DT Minich, CEO, Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater."

Officials believe by getting people to come to the area for more than just the great weather and beaches, it broadens the appeal of the Bay Area for potential tourists.

The Florida Department of Transportation is trying to get the Port of Tampa and Port Manatee to play nice together. Up to now the two ports have seen each other as competitors.

"There is greater pressure to cooperate on a regional basis, not necessarily consolidation," said port planning and logistics consultant John Vickerman.

For more information on these stories, click on the video player on the left, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pqrn6bDhSO8 or pick up this week's Tampa Bay Business Journal available on newsstands.

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