“A lot,” he said with a laugh. “But it needed to be saved. I asked our contractor what it would take to build something like this again. He told me that there was no way to do it. If we lost the cigar factories, we’d never see anything like those again in this city.”
Iconic clocktower El Reloj stands tall as Ybor City’s most beloved structure. Yet, the water tower of the Perfecto Garcia Cigar Factory is a worthy contender, according to contractor Robert Holsopple.
“You can see it from all over the neighborhood,” he said, “and have been able to for a long time.”
Over a century ago, the water tower and cigar factory at 2808 N. 16th St. were on the brink of being lost forever.
Thanks to Water Tower Holdings, this historic structure was saved from imminent collapse and is now being transformed into an apartment building.
Without their intervention in 2019, this four-story, 49,000 square foot building would have crumbled within a decade.
“It was in terrible shape, but we’re saving it,” he said. “But don’t call this a restoration project. This is a resurrection.”
The factory will be turned into beautiful apartments, but it won’t happen overnight. We’re talking about ripping out every wooden support beam and replacing it with steel, which will take some time. According to Water Tower Holdings’ managing partner Charlie Hettinger, the project might take three years or even longer. But trust us, it will definitely be worth the wait!
Once completed, the apartment building will offer a total of 36 units. Most of them will range between 500 and 700 square feet, perfect for comfortable living. And wait till you hear about the top floor – it will feature exquisite penthouses. These luxurious living spaces will even have private rooftop decks, offering breathtaking views of Ybor and downtown.
“I’ve been on the roof for sunsets,” Hettinger said. “It’s gorgeous. People will love living here.”
The historic Newman cigar factory, with its beautifully restored clock, is now open for tours. But that’s not all – the Newman family is also transforming a nearby building into a charming inn and cafe, creating a new public park, and even starting a tobacco farm right in the neighborhood.
And if that’s not enough, Ybor already boasts the city-operated Cuscaden Pool and the Ybor Misfits Microsanctuary, a haven for injured abandoned chickens.
“This neighborhood is going to be really cool,” Hettinger said. “There’s no room to invest over in Seminole Heights or the main part of Ybor anymore. So, development is moving here.”
Step inside Perfecto Garcia’s renovated apartments and be transported back in time to when Tampa’s cigar trade reigned supreme. While the exterior remains unchanged, its historic charm is meticulously preserved. Discover a captivating blend of old-world character and modern comfort within.
Perfecto Garcia, a non-designated local historic landmark, awaits a potential transformation. The developers had the chance to modernize the exterior or even demolish the factory. Tampa’s rich history is intertwined with cigar factories, making this project all the more intriguing.
“It would have been a lot cheaper to knock it down and start over,” Hettinger said. “We could have built a complex here that took up a whole city block. But this is important to the city. There aren’t many of them left.”
Discover the dwindling presence of Tampa’s historic factories as only a mere two dozen out of the original 200 still stand. A remarkable half of these remaining structures boast a protected, historic status. Now, the consideration to seek a local landmark designation for these factories is underway.
Step back in time to 1915 when Perfecto Garcia first emerged as a factory, capturing the essence of Tampa’s rich history. However, the exemplary structure we see today is twice the size it once was, thanks to two noteworthy additions made over the span of half a century.
“The original part was still in good condition,” Hettinger said. “But the further west you went, where the additions were built, the roof was compromised and parts of that side of the building were going to fall over.”
Water Tower Holdings acquires factory for $2.1 million, as stated on the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s website.
Hettinger declines to disclose expenses for preserving and transforming the factory into an apartment complex.