Don’t count Teddy Roque among Ybor City’s hand wringers and naysayers. He’s the general manager of the new, $12-million Hampton Inn & Suites at the corner of 13th Street and East 7th Avenue, and he’s thrilled to be opening the red-brick property with 138 rooms (including 50 suites) by Thanksgiving.
“You have to look on the bright side,” says Roque, an engaging, continental sort from Split, Croatia. “I would love to see more investors bringing dollars to Ybor City, but it takes people who can see beyond the present. For example, the developers who are bringing in condos on 5th (Avenue). They obviously have a vision. As do we. We think we’re in the right place at the right time with the right deal. We think this is an ideal site for both the leisure and business market.
“Ybor City has a bright future,” underscores Roque. “Sure, I wish it were happening faster, but the last five years I’ve seen impressive growth. From here to Channelside. And we’re in the middle, with the trolley taking guests back and forth.”
Roque’s first-hand look at the evolving market comes courtesy of his four-plus years as general manager of the highly successful, 95-room Hilton Garden Inn at 17th and 9th Avenue. Hampton is part of the Hilton chain.